It’s about more than winning

Guest blog by Derrick Calloway

Social Studies Teacher, Avery County HS, NC

I am the head wrestling coach at ACHS. This season one of my wrestlers is ranked number one in the state. At one of our recent meets the opposing coach told me that a boy with autism would be up against our number-one-ranked wrestler.

Before my wrestler took the mat that evening, I told him about his opponent, but I didn’t coach him in any other way. I just told him what the other coach told me. Upon taking the mat, my wrestler looked focused and ready to wrestle.

None of us (the crowd, the teams and coaches) knew that we were in for an amazing demonstration of humility and generosity. My wrestler, who could have pinned his opponent in the first thirty seconds, made the match last the entire bout. He made some offensive moves, but he also made it look like his opponent was making good offensive moves, too. At one point, he even let the opponent begin to pin him. Being humble in his athletic ability and being generous with his “mistakes,” my wrestler ended up winning by a single point.

The smile on the happy yet exhausted autistic opponent was priceless. My wrestler hugged his opponent after the match. Everyone was clapping and cheering.

Later, when I asked my wrestler why he chose to wrestle that way, he said, “Sometimes we all need some encouraging. I win a lot and it feels good. I wanted him to know what it feels like to have your hard work pay off.” I smiled and patted him on the back.

This High school student looked past just competing to win. He helped another human being, and he inspired all who were in attendance. This was a beautiful display of understanding, imagination, humility and generosity.

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