The whistle blows and the wrestlers take their places in their separate corners of the ring. In the next three minutes, any action could mean the difference between winning or losing. The tension builds in the wrestlers’ minds, imagining every move that they will make and every countermovement they will need to perform in order to be the victor. The referee blows his whistle once again, signaling the start of the match.
Wrestling is a sport at Berkeley High School (BHS) that isn’t given as much attention as it deserves. Wrestling, like other BHS sports, often get overshadowed by the crowd-drawing basketball and soccer teams. But our wrestling team doesn’t let this keep them from winning their way through the season. So far this season, they have had a great amount of success with an impressive eight medals under their belt. The ultimate goal of the team is to put as many wrestlers as possible into the Northern Coast Section (NCS) tournament.
The team is coached by Ben Nathan, who is also a math teacher at BHS. Nathan is a former high school wrestling captain who helped send six wrestlers to the state tournament in his home state of Georgia. He is currently in his fifth year of coaching wrestling at BHS. While his role is to teach his students and athletes, he also learns from them. “I have a much better understanding of how they interact with each other, seeing as how the way they connect in the wrestling room is very different from how they do in the classroom,” he said. According to Nathan, wrestling teaches self discipline and hard work, and teaches young people how to be contributing members of society. “Everyone that grows up who wrestled when they were younger tends to come out as good people. We work hard, have fun, and when you win, you know it is because you put in more work than your opponent,” said Nathan.
In talking to athletes on the team, a noticeable trend is the intense focus, commitment, and determination that all the wrestlers have with regards to the sport. This makes sense considering that in order to be a successful wrestler, one must stay within their weight class. Everything from one’s daily diet to exercise regimen has to be accounted for. Wrestling is a sport that requires one’s attention and focus even off the mat, which is different than some other sports where the game ends once the match is officially over. Sunish Patel, the team captain and BHS junior, said, “Looking back on how all the training I put in paid off after winning a match is my favorite part of wrestling.” Another lesson that seems to be ingrained into the wrestler’s minds is the idea to never judge someone on a few experiences, because the small underdog in the ill-fitting unitard could still take down the big, muscular wrestler if they have trained more than their larger opponent.