Life's Lessons Learned on the Mat

By Justin Emeigh '22


If you have recently walked into the Delone Catholic High School wrestling room, it looks very different than it has in past years. In January, the room received a makeover for the first time ever thanks to an anonymous donation. The original room definitely needed an improvement. Now you walk into the room and it screams pride. The new upgrade includes black mats on all walls that look like realistic stone. One wall includes wording that says, “Be Doers of the Word” while the another says “Delone.” The remaining walls have the Squire mascot on them. It took a lot of time and muscle to upgrade the room. To most, it may just look like a rectangular room with mats on the floor and walls and a small locker area. To our team, our brotherhood, it is a place where we have learned many life lessons.

While wrestling is a team sport, it is very much about the individuals who make up that team. When you are out there on the mat facing a competitor, the smallest of adjustments can make or break the six minutes you have to prove yourself to your coaches, your teammates, the competition, and the fans. Make a mistake and there is no one else to place blame on besides yourself. Accountability is a tough pill to swallow when you are potentially being man handled by your opponent. While competing, you feed off the energy of those around you. Your teammates and coaches will continue to cheer you on and give guidance no matter what because while wrestling is very much about technique, it is also a game of mental toughness and resilience. You quickly learn how important your teammates are to your experience and how important their success is also to you. Have a good work ethic, be patient and disciplined, trust the process, and you won’t be disappointed.

On the mat and inside those four walls is where we have been taught that if you want something in life, hard work and determination is a necessity and there is no such thing as entitlement. There is always going to be someone better than you. Be ready for that moment and be sure to leave everything you have on the mat. If you give it your all, there is no reason to feel ashamed or humiliated while the crowd is cheering as your opponent’s arm is being raised to signify the win. On the other hand, if the shoe is on the other foot, stay humble and the sense of accomplishment will add to your confidence. How you choose to learn from the success and defeats you will experience on the mat will help shape the character you build in this sport. How you choose to react to those highs and lows will determine what type of athlete you are and the respect you receive from others.

Respecting authority is another lesson you will learn. Think about the amount of hours you put into your sport. Have you ever thought about the time your coach(es) put in? Yes, they are with you at practice and during competitions. But it doesn’t stop there. They go home and research and strategize and take time away from their families to continue to help you in any way that they can. In reality, he/she is probably putting in more time than you are. For that reason, take the time to listen, make eye contact, and respect the wealth of knowledge that they are willing to share and teach. Most times, they have been there before you and are trying to help you avoid making the same mistakes they have made in life or help you advance quicker based on the lessons they learned themselves. A good coach can make a huge impact in your life like Coach Chad, Coach Kevin, and Coach Lucas have in our team’s lives. But that can’t be done without having a mutual respect for each other.

In short, whether you play on a field, court, or mat, make the most of the that time. Like our small team does, also realize the importance of what happens in that work space. Try to realize the lessons you are learning while in the moment and carry them with you for the rest of your life. It will make you a better person and maybe one day you too will have the opportunity to inspire and teach others in some way. I am proud of my time spent as a wrestler and only wish I had found the sport sooner than high school. If you are looking to try something new or are curious about the sport after this blog, venture over to the new wrestling room next winter and see how it can change your life, too.

Click the link below to see before and after photos of the Delone Catholic Wrestling Room!