Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Mom’s Perspective…

December 9, 2012 by  
Filed under News, Parents, Reference

By Kelly Ann Fukuhara    (Lauren ’12 & Justin ’15)

 

I have always told my children that we are spending a lot of money sending them to Punahou so they need to take advantage of all the opportunities that Punahou has to offer.  I wanted each of them to have at least one activity each semester.

 

With that said, I should not have been surprised when my 7th grade son came home and told me that he wanted to join the wrestling team.  But I was…just a little.  It was something different.  What really DID surprise me though was when my 10th grade daughter came home and told me that SHE wanted to join the wrestling team, too.  Do girls wrestle?  My daughter was a graceful, hula dancing Holoku princess… Princesses don’t wrestle!  What was she thinking?!

 

After absorbing the sport they both had chosen for the season, I had to ask them if they really thought that this was a good choice.  I had absolutely no idea what wrestling was about.  I envisioned Hulk Hogan throwing my kids across a ring with bouncy ropes on the sides then landing on them with his thigh…maybe even throwing a wooden chair at them, too……No. No. No.  That’s not going to happen.  We need to change sports.

 

I suggested something like swimming, tennis, something non-contact….even bowling or golf.    They didn’t buy it.

 

SO, taking a deep breath and trying to be a supportive parent, I checked on our medical insurance and reluctantly accepted the fact that my children were going to the ER sometime in the next few months.

 

The first team parent meeting was called as it usually is.

I came and sat in the back of the absolutely freezing room with no jacket and introduced myself to a woman sitting next to me.  It was Michelle Buck, Kolu Buck’s mom, who was wearing two jackets at once.  I took it she was an experienced parent as I was freezing my butt off.  She welcomed me and assured me that this was a great sport.  She told me that her burly son was something like 6 foot something and 215 pounds and loved wrestling.  SURE…great sport for the Incredible Hulk!  All I could picture was my teeny-tiny-hula-princess at 4’10” and 95 pounds on a good day after lunch in a ring with her son!

Hulk Hogan came to mind again.

 

Coach Oney introduced himself and his team of coaches and training staff.

I knew that when a coach has to introduce his “training staff”, it’s NOT a good thing.  It’s a disguise for being the MEDICAL staff, in case you didn’t know.

Mr. Beachy, the team trainer (or doctor as I call him), started out with an overview of injuries and things that could happen to our children over the course of the season.  Dislocated this, dislocated that, concussion to the head AND ankles, mind you.  He even taught us how to ice injuries, when to go to the doctor…..Again, I was SURE this was NOT a good thing.  When he showed slides of ringworm and explained how it’s contracted and how common it is in wrestling, I was then ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED that this sport was NOT for my children.

 

So, we went home that night and I again asked my kids why they wanted to wrestle.  My son Justin, said that he really wanted to get in shape and have ‘abs’.  It was a boy thing.  Okay.     Then I asked Lauren, my 95 pound 4’10” daughter.  She said that it was the only sport that she could compete with someone of her size category and still have a chance.  I thought back.  …and she was right.

 

She ran cross-country until it took two of her strides to match one of her taller counterpart’s.  She was on the volleyball team and was pretty good until her vertical jump couldn’t keep up with the other 6′ girls.  Okay.  I get it….an even playing field.

 

SO, again being a supportive parent, I RE-checked our medical insurance and reluctantly sent them both back to wrestling practice.

 

As the season started, they complained about the practices and how hard they were pushed.  I told them they could quit, but they declined.  There were days their bodies hurt. There were days of over-sprained muscles.  There were days of eating only healthy foods.  I told them they could quit, but they declined.  There were days of sweating to a point where losing an ounce extra would either make or break them.  I still couldn’t see anything good in this sport.  Was this really healthy for growing teenagers?  Again, I told them they could quit, but they declined.

 

Not attending practices, I still had no idea what wrestling really was about.  I knew there were mats involved with ropes and stairs…..lots of stairs.  Lots of sweat, stinky shoes, stinky clothes, stinky everything.  I tried to understand ‘hydration’ and ‘weight classes’ and ‘getting a spot’.  I tried to understand how these coaches were running my kids harder than they’ve ever been runned… but my kids wouldn’t quit.  They actually liked being pushed.  I didn’t get it.  Why this drive for challenge didn’t work in the field of academics with my kids is beyond me.

 

Then came the first meet.

First, I learned that there are no bouncy ropes or Hulk Hogan thigh cracking in a square ring.  It’s just an open mat with circles and lines.  Second, I learned that wrestling was a real strength and agility competition.  I watched two lean, muscular bodies at a time push each other around a circle extending themselves to the limits of physical endurance.  Third and most importantly, I saw my children really enjoy the challenge.  Wrestling is an INDIVIDUAL-TEAM sport.  They are pushing themselves individually for the TEAM.

 

I watched my children get smashed like pancakes, tied into knots, rolled into positions I didn’t even know possible….but each time, they got up and humbly learned defeat or success.  They really enjoyed it.           …They enjoyed it, so I enjoyed it.

 

I still didn’t know how points were scored.  I watched them flip, roll, throw, trip, and do things I hadn’t seen.  I just figured that if my kid was on top, they were doing well.  I was just waiting to see whose arm the referee would raise at the end of the match.

 

I also learned that our coaches teach our children humility…..something that I had to learn as a wrestling parent, too.  At the first meet, when the ref raised my child’s arm up for winning, I stood up and clapped hysterically…..THEN I realized that this wasn’t a football game where you sing ‘Cheer Boys Cheer’ when they score.  You sit there quietly and clap like you’re at high tea…..no fist pumping…..no hooting…..no jumping up and down…..just humbly accepting a conquer or loss.  It was character building.  Although there’s always a winner and a loser of each match, you really can’t lose if you practice good sportsmanship and know you tried your hardest.

 

As the season progressed, I learned that wrestling is an all day sport.  There really is a dedication to being there for the entire day to see your child in the ring for two measly minutes of this intense muscle challenge.  I also learned to check the schedule carefully before running to the bathroom during a meet….the odds are that the two minutes you’re tinkling, your kid is in the ring and you’ll miss what you sat all day for.  It’s happened to me more than once.  I also learned that the saying ‘it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you played the game’ pertains to this more with it being ‘it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how hard you tried’.  Again, it’s character building.

 

So that year, I was introduced to something that I was truly reluctant about in the beginning of the season but really enjoyed at the end.  Wrestling IS a good sport.  It offers opportunity for even playing fields.  It teaches kids about their bodies and physical limitations.  Yes, we HAVE gone to the ER and yes, we HAVE had ringworm more than once but it’s part of the game.  Like any other sport, you WILL have injuries.  But you go with the punches and know that Punahou has the best coaching and training teams behind you and your child for this.

 

Apparently my both my children loved it too.  My son put a lot into his first season.  He was voted a team captain for the following year.  I was so happy and proud of him until I found out that it’s traditionally the team captain’s mom who becomes the ‘team mom’ with him.

 

Nonetheless, I have met many new parents and hope to ease the reluctance of others allowing their children to join the sport.  Having both a son AND a daughter going through the Punahou Wrestling program has broken down the Hulk Hogan stereotype that I had four years ago.  The self-awareness, perseverance, and character building that your child gains with this Punahou team is PRICELESS!

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