It’s not Croquet, but it’s pretty cool.

Gage Flandreau 2012

So, that’s my Middler, there in the orange and black. He’s “shooting“…which means, he’s going for the other guy’s legs. Then he goes on to “break him down“, and eventually “Pins” him. I put all the technical wrestling words in quotes for you, because until I had boys that wrestled, they were very technical to me. I look at these words…Shooting. Breaking down. Pin. Hmmm. Very harsh, you know? As my husband likes to say, “Well, it’s not croquet, Lis.”

No. No indeedy.

But what is it exactly? My friend and I, fellow wrestling Mamas who put in a lot of time together on bleachers, have mused over this subject so often. We face quite a bit of judgment from others that know nothing about the sport of wrestling. When I had a nasty case of the sniffles a couple of weeks back, and was couchbound, I put in one of my favorite comfort movies: A Knight’s Tale with the gorgeous and dead Heath Ledger. I realized that wrestling these days is almost a little like jousting was hundreds of years ago: not for the faint of heart, and practiced by boys that are brave and noble. (Well, I would say 98% of them noble. You get a few bad apples, but you could get those in croquet, too. Have you ever seen those mallets? Put that with an angry Croquet-er…and….)

Well, anyway. My point is this: it takes incredible self-confidence and courage to go one on one with an opponent, and know that some of them are so good they can bend you into the shape of a pretzel. My boy takes this risk every time he walks out onto the mat. And so does the Littlest, by the way. But 6 year-old wrestling is much less intense than 11-12 year old wrestling, for the simple fact that many of the small ones never even end up catching each other.

My son just qualified to go the state tournament that will take place in a couple of weeks. I was so proud of him that I nearly broke the sound barrier with my scream.  I’ve told him time and time again how much he inspires me with his bravery. I’ve watched him work hard at practices, tournaments, with his Dad here at home; and his never give up spirit makes me sing. I feel like I need to go on record about this sport that so many “don’t get“.

The day of the Regionals, the day that the top 3 kids out of many would be chosen to go to State out of each weight bracket was a long and grueling day.

This was Gage’s bracket from Districts, where he got 1st place. The order of tournaments goes: Districts, Regionals, State.

We arrived to Britton, SD in typical nasty SD winter weather, only to wait outside for about 20 minutes in line.


These folks are NOT the happiest of campers.

We spent roughly 11 hours in the gym, my son wrestling 5 matches about 2 hours apart. We know these kids that my boy had to wrestle, because most of them, he’s been wrestling all year at different tournaments around the state. We know the parents, too. After winning his first two matches, Middler went into the semi-finals. All he had to do was win his third match, and would be guaranteed a ticket to State.

He was winning, right up until he lost.

Phooey. (That’s the G-rated version)

Now he had to win 2 more matches to get 3rd at Regionals. (Remember, only the top 3 get to go on to State)

He won his next match pretty easily, but we knew the second match would be much more tricky. Middler had to wrestle a boy he’s wrestled often, and the pair of them are very evenly matched. It could go either way. Right before the match began, the father of the opponent, the one my boy would be wrestling for that Third Place Spot, came up to my husband and son. He genuinely wished them good luck, and said some other nice things to my boy, as well. Of course he wanted HIS boy to win, but he wanted to show Gage, my Middler, that he respected him as a wrestler, and he sincerely wanted him to wrestle his best.

My boy won. And one of the first things he said, was that he wished his opponent could be going to State, too. He didn’t want to knock him out of the tournament. Gage respected the boys he wrestled: the ones he beat, as well as the boys he lost to.

THAT is what this sport is about. As the boys stood to accept their medals, another parent said to the boys at large: “Good job boys. ALL of you. What a FINE group of boys.”

Gage 3rd in Regionals
Gage is in black, 3rd down. What you can’t see on his face is his intense happiness. He’s tricky like that♥

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

If you go to a wrestling match, you may see things that make you judge it harshly. But if you look carefully, you’ll see boys wrestle their hearts out, and sometimes HUG each other after the match and big brothers hugging sad little brothers who just lost.  You’ll see parents that encourage kids that AREN’T even theirs. You may see a Father’s eyes fill with tears of pride for his son who just got the honor of winning Third Place at Regionals, and who gets to go on to wrestle for the State Championship for the first time.

I saw all of that, and I’ll never forget it.




9 thoughts on “It’s not Croquet, but it’s pretty cool.

  1. I’ve said it until people are tired of hearing it: kids can learn things in sports they don’t learn anwhere else — if the sports are done properly. It sounds like your sons are in a good program. Your story of your youngest son reminds me of the wonderful scene in “The Big Bang” when two of the characters circle each other on a wrestling mat for hours while the third one, who was supposed to referee, falls asleep on a bench nearby! Fun stuff. [Welcome banck!]

  2. I have missed you, Lis. It gave me great joy to see your post. What a fine young man you have there. To care about his opponent at the end shows the greatest of character. The wrestling, the confidence building, the character building. You have made a Knight of the first order. Heath Ledger’ s character doesn’t stand a chance against him. You deserve to be proud of him and his accomplishments. All the best. BTG

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