They sprinted off like a bullet out of a gun, and I pumped my thin, muscle-less legs as fast as they would go. I wasn’t last, thank goodness; Cody was still behind me. Three laps was all I could do in five minutes and at the end of that interval I began convulsing over a hallway garbage can with an uncontrollable cough. I’d never run so fast in my life.
We then did the same thing only this time for four minutes. Then three. Then two individual laps at the very end. At the finish of each interval my legs felt less like solid foundations and more like jello. My throat felt as if someone had shoved a hot metal rod down it. My nose felt like it was bleeding liter fluid. Snot and sweat covered my face and I continuously stood over the garbage can, dry-heaving and spitting away my cotton mouth. My whole world was enflamed.
The eternal speed laps finally came to an end; that’s when we entered into the real jungle.
Coach told us to go back into the wrestling room; we weren’t allowed to get a drink. Everyone was sweaty, and the smell and heat rolled off of our bodies in waves. We put on our wrestling shoes as fast as we could; some of the guys yelled at me to tie my shoes faster.
The feeling of putting on my wrestling shoes and walking about in them gave me a sense of pride that I couldn’t explain. I felt as if I were meant to wear them; they belonged on my feet.
Coach said, “We’re doing push-ups!” We’d all picked out a circle and stood in it, the majority of us facing Logan, Thomas, and a third boy I didn’t know. They were obviously the leaders of the team.
I felt incredibly confident (probably too so I would say); Logan had drilled push-ups so far into my body that they came as naturally as walking. However, when he started counting off, I discovered how much quicker everyone else completed their push-ups and how far behind I was. We were supposed to do ten, but I only counted six.
“Juliet! Do the rest!” Thomas yelled at me. I blinked.
“Okay.” I got back down and did four more push-ups, my face getting hot with embarrassment as the rest of the team watched me.
Next was squat thrusts…I don’t understand how in the world the other wrestlers did them so quickly. I squatted down and put my hands on the mat, pushing my feet out behind me and then bringing them back in, and jumped up to do the next one as quickly as my heavy led blocks for legs would let me, but I could not keep up. We did them on one leg and then the other as well.
“Coach, I gotta go to the bathroom.” Cody said. He then ran out of the room.
Thank God, I get a break! I thought to myself. This gave me relief until I noticed that everyone else was getting into the push-up position.
“What are we doing?” I asked Broiled, who stood next to me.
“Whenever someone goes to the bathroom, we have to either do push-ups or stay in the push-up position.” He explained. My eyes widened.
“You’ve got to be kidding me…that boy better pee quick.” I said, gasping after the sentence left my mouth. Did I really just say that?
He smirked at me as I got down into the push-up position. Broiled did at least fifty push-ups by the time Cody returned, yet I was having one heck of a struggle with just holding myself up.
“Okay, up. Get on the wall.” Coach ordered. We all jogged over to the matted wall of the gymnasium and stood, awaiting his instructions. “Everyone pair up with someone close to your weight.”
All the other wrestlers paired up with each other, and I was left standing alone. Logan jogged over to me and told me that I’d be Cody’s partner since he was around my weight. Great.
“Hey.” Cody greeted me with a wink. I mentally rolled my eyes.
“Alright, I want bear crawls, backwards, forwards, and sideways, down to that wall,” Coach gestured to the wall opposite us. “and back. Go!”
Cody sprinted across the mats like an animal on all fours alongside Logan and some of the other wrestlers. My eyes widened as I saw how smoothly they glided across the mats like cheetahs chasing after their prey. How the heck am I supposed to do this? I asked myself. Wrestlers aren’t human.
I completed the bear crawls with the speed of a turtle tied down with cement blocks, but I did complete them nonetheless. We then did crab walks in the same fashion, forwards, backwards, and sideways. Roll-overs (the act of somersaulting while on the ground) were to be done forwards and backwards as well. Finally, we were permitted to detach ourselves from the wall and return to our circles on the mats.
“Incline push-ups!” Coach yelled.
Logan showed me how to do these; Cody held my ankles at his waist while I did push-ups, and then I did the same with him. I nearly dropped his legs twice and my legs buckled many times more. The hand stand push-ups, where your partner holds your legs up in the air by his head while you do push-ups upside down, were much more challenging.
I tried to bring my feet up so Cody could help me, but I kept falling down. My wrists felt as if they were strings that tied my hands to my arms, and they were stretching and straining every time I brought myself down for a push-up. I just couldn’t get my legs up.
“Kick them over your head! Come on!” Baked yelled. I put my hands on the mat along with the top of my head and kicked off from the mat as hard as I could. Cody caught me, and we commenced push-ups. When we switched and he brought his feet up, I lost my grip and dropped him…three times. Eventually I braced myself on the mat and held onto his feet with all the strength I had left in my arms.
By the time we finished, the room was spinning around my head at an alarming speed. My blood was boiling. The dry-heaving recommenced but, after a few convulsions, my breakfast found its way back up my throat and out onto the mat, bringing me to my hands and knees. The room spun faster. Vomit covered my hands and my face was hot. I’d never felt more mortified within the time span of my existence than in that single moment.
Logan jogged over to me (I only knew it was him because I saw his wrestling shoes; my head was too heavy for me to lift up to see) and put a hand on my back as I kept my face towards the mat.
“Juliet, you okay?”
No! Of course I’m not okay! Half of my insides are now outside my body! I can’t handle this!
I didn’t answer him…I couldn’t answer him. Every bit of energy left in me was now spewed all over the mat before me. He patted my back and walked away. Coach then ran over to me with paper towels; he expected me to get up and keep going.
Okay, Juliet. Here’s where you’re going to have to choose; are you going to give up? Nobody is going to help you right now. Are you going to be strong and keep going, or stop? You don’t have to keep going. Nobody would be surprised if you just stopped. Actually, it would be easier for you if you just got up and walked out right now and never came back. Nobody important knows about your being a wrestler, so it wouldn’t matter. You can stop right now. Just stop. Stop.
I sighed and leaned on my knees as I silently and slowly cleaned up my puke, aware of everyone watching me and waiting for me to give up. I let the world around me fade into fable until I gained the strength to stand up; once I’d found the strength, I walked over to the garbage can sitting by the bleachers. All the boys kept asking me if I was okay; I ignored them. I fished the other vomit out of my nose (since it had originated from there as well) and chucked the dirty towels into the can.
As I walked by, back to Cody, all eyes followed me. Coach asked me if I was okay; I’d decided that he was the only one I would answer.
“Yes.” I said.
This is an excerpt from a book I finished a few months ago. I realize that my writing is mediocre and I know I’m still learning, but there is still the method to my madness that I wish to reveal. Anyway, in my junior year of high school I began writing this book about wrestling told from the perspective of a girl wrestler. My father is a wrestling coach, so there was no shortage of opportunities for research. Yet, at the beginning of my senior year, I was faced with the fact that I could not write about something I had never experienced…therefore, I became a wrestler.
I joined my father’s wrestling team and put myself through more physical difficulty than I ever thought I could handle. The night before the first practice, I was talking to God about how absolutely nervous I felt.
“God…You know I can’t do this, right? You also know that this is crazy? I can’t do this without You.”
“I know. You need me. I will give You the strength to do this.”
“You’re really going to do that, even if it’s just for a story?”
“This will bring You closer to Me. Yes.”
“Okay, Lord; in that case, I’m going to need not only Your strength, determination, endurance, power, and level-headedness….I have a feeling I’m going to want to cry like a little baby at least once or twice.”
“I know. I will be there.”
Needless to say, I needed all of those divine characteristics along with many more. Without God, I would have given up and quit when I thought I had enough research. But, I lasted through the whole season and even went to the Girls’ State Tournament.
MY POINT!! During my season as a wrestler, my coach (my father) constantly yelled at the guy with the lower hand in a match to look up. He always told his guys, when they were in a tight spot, they needed to look up, right up to the ceiling. My worst days of practice were only as bad as they were because I was always looking down.
This is the same with my relationship with God, with those days where I wake up spiritually exhausted and I feel as if the mass of the world is against me.
I woke up spiritually exhausted this morning and I couldn’t figure out why. I just felt like giving up because no other “Christians” on campus seemed to want to do anything about the fact that everyone else here sees our God as a joke. I felt overwhelmingly alone. I was thinking, “I feel really overemotional right now; I really need to stop doing this. Why can’t I just be normal?”
I think it’s a girl thing.
As I was walking out of the gym, I caught myself looking at the ground, which I don’t normally do. I had been looking down for a while.
“When you’re in a tight spot, you need to look up.” -Jim DuVall, Unadilla Valley Wrestling Coach
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” —Psalm 121:1,2
“You can turn your eyes to the heavens, and the Creator’s watching over you, with arms of love to hold you and draw you near.”
—Draw You Near, Out of Eden.
All of these ran through my head along with many more.
So I looked up. My shoulders became straight, my heart became lighter. No, I didn’t feel completely better, but I did feel less alone and much more hopeful.
When it comes to being in a tight spot, in any case—wrestling, money, school, relationships, illness—you have to remember that when you look down, the only things looking back at you are Satan and the ground. When you look up, your scope is not only much wider, but you have the One who’s on your side to find comfort in. He’s looking down at you, but only because He’s helping you up.