Dear Wrestling Moms and Dads,

Over 13 years ago, I was introduced to the sport of wrestling. No one could ever have prepared me for this journey. Maybe reading this letter will help you realize you are not alone in your love-hate relationship with this sport.

It sounds cliche to call this sport a roller coaster of emotions, but it truly is. One match your child wins-you can breathe again (until the next round), but on the adjacent mat, your child loses, your emotions hit rock bottom. If you're a wrestling parent, you know this feeling. Wrestling is a sport like no other. I don't need to tell you that.

Like me, you have spent countless hours on the football, baseball, soccer, or lacrosse fields. The glorious moments of winning the Pee Wee Championship Football Title were so much fun. Fun? I wouldn't categorize wrestling as a fun sport. All of those sports mentioned have the benefit of playing with other athletes. Wrestling, as you know, is all about the individual-no one to blame but yourself. If you are stuck on the bottom during a match, your coach or no one else is coming out to rescue you.

My husband always told me to trust the process. The process? The process of watching youngsters walk away from the mat in tears after an unbearable loss? I didn't believe him. I couldn't see the benefits he could see, having been a wrestler himself. Looking back on it now, I wish I would have told myself to be patient; he is right.

​Before my eyes, this sport shaped our boys into the incredible men they are today. Looking back on it now, I wish I could have told myself that their losses, victories, and sacrifices were teaching them lessons neither my husband nor I could have taught them through our words of watching.

Ironically, while they were learning their life lessons, wrestling was also teaching me a few. One of the my sons is a senior this year. Watching his journey unfold in the stands at leagues, counties, and states allowed me the blessing of watching my boy grow into a man. I finally understood what my husband was trying to tell me along along about this sport. The knot in my stomach, lump in my throat, and pain in my back from sitting in one spot on the hardwood bleachers for hours opened my heart to the newfound love for this sport.

I admit I have always thought it was about the medals; it's not. It's about the journey, the gamut of emotions, and the blessings you get along the way that mold and shape you in a better human. I guess I took the long way around to realize this, but the gratitude I now have for this sport is something I think only a wrestling Mom or Dad could appreciate and understand.

So, after my senior son earned his accolades at the championships, he posted this on his Instagram account: "It's been real wrestling, thank you for everything, even though I hated you sometimes." I chuckled after he posted it, but totally related to his words. Now his successful journey is over, and I strangely, cannot wait to sit in those bleachers for hours, sweating, in tears, knots in my stomach, with my underclassman son. Honestly, I am so glad this gut-wrenching journey isn't over just yet because somehow, I feel wrestling has more to teach me. 

With Gratitude,

​Crissy Tietjen