The Athlete I Strive to be
Going into my senior year, I only have one more shot at making my dream become a reality. I want to be the next Wrestling State champion from Utica High School. Going into the summer, I wanted to go to a wrestling camp that would push me past my limits. I found Bad Boys Intensive Camp, held by Steve Fraser, the Olympic Gold Medalist from America in 1984, and the head coach of the USA Olympic Wrestling (Greco-Roman) Team. I signed up, thinking it would help me a little bit, but little did I know that Steve Fraser would change my life, and be my hero.
As soon as the camp started, Steve had a talk with the wrestlers about the mindset to have on the mat. He told us to enjoy the battle, don’t ever be nervous for a wrestling match, because that is where one makes mistakes. One day, a few other wrestlers and I were talking to Coach Steve, and he emphasized,” Never let any other wrestler break your confidence in a match. Nothing matters except the match that you’re in at that very moment. You make the choice whether you want to work hard and be the best, or if you want to fall short of your goal.” That’s a conversation that I will never forget as long as I live, and I will live by that all season long. Coach also teaches one to keep telling themselves they are the best wrestler around. No matter what, with mental toughness and hard work, anyone can accomplish their dream.
Additionally, Coach Fraser showed that hard work can bring anyone to the top of the podium. Coach Steve began wrestling when he was in eighth grade, and he did not win a single match. He never let that get to him, throughout high school, Steve Fraser worked his butt off, and the results came with it. He never gave up. He kept working harder and harder remembering he had to work harder than the next guy. By his senior year, Steve Fraser became a Michigan Wrestling State Champion. He was smart, and it inspires me; I can relate to Coach Fraser in that sense.
I too, did not win a single match in my first year of wrestling. I work hard trying to be better every season, but Coach Fraser put in perspective that anyone with the will to win, will win. Steve showed me wrestling moves I had never heard of, and I have never felt as comfortable on the mat as I did when I was using his techniques. The hours he puts into wrestling makes me want to work 24 hours 7 days a week. I can tell he believed in me, and I know that he knows that I will follow in his footsteps and conquer greatness.
Steve also put things into a reality. One day after a session he told this to the group.” You will have better days, you will have worse days. Some days, you will get beat, some days you will take first at the tournament. Win with pride, lose with pride.” Good sportsmanship is just another characteristic that Steve has. He leads by example by never losing his cool in a match, no matter what situation he is in. He taught us to just leave everything we have left out on the mat. If the wrestler isn’t completely gassed at the end of his match, he didn’t leave it out there. Coach would emphasize to us that if we wrestle as hard as we can, our opponent is never going to want to wrestle us again. Steve made people fear him on the mat, which is inspiring to any wrestler.
Aside from his inspiration, Steve Fraser pushed me harder than anyone has ever pushed me before. At the end of his camp, I ran twelve miles, which is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Every lap a voice would come into my mind and tell me to quit, but I just kept thinking about how hard Steve must have had to work to be the best, how he would never stop wrestling, never take any time off, always train year round, and then I went past my limits, and became mentally strong. Steve was waiting for the wrestlers at the end of every mile, and every time I would turn the corner and see Coach, I would push myself even more. I ended up winning that race and I have Coach Fraser to thank.
Coach Steve Fraser inspired me to be a better wrestler and a better person in general. The best wrestlers are ones that can control their anger off the mat, but are ready to unleash when the whistle blows. The hard work Coach taught me paid off, because at the end of the camp, I was awarded Most Valuable Player. The only reason I came that far is because of his coaching. When I am standing at the top of the podium in the Palace at the end of this season, I’ll be remembering all of the things I learned from Coach Fraser, and I will be thanking God for bringing such a great role model into my life.
I have been reflecting on some things and people lately. I just wanted to say, thank you. You gave me many opportunities that I am forever grateful for. Your beliefs and trust, helped me become a better more knowledge coach to some amazing young men throughout my career.
I am humbled and grateful for your friendship and mentoring.
-Chris James, Coach
Hey Coach Fraser,
It's Tristan Koch. I just wanted to thank you for all you showed me at the Adrian camp. It really helped me become tougher and more competitive on the mat. I've already seen a huge change in my wrestling and I attribute all of that to your camp. Thanks again and I'll keep you posted on how I do this year.