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Where Do We Go From Here   by Richard Rockwell


What a difference a week can make. We literally went from getting ready to root for some our favorite youth and college wrestlers, to trying to remember what life was like before the Wuhan Virus that has completely brought our world to a halt. From schools to sports to shopping to how we interact with one another, our lives have completely changed.

What once used to be handshakes or high fives have been whittled down to elbow bumps and head nods. Cough in public and get the death stare. Mass hysteria as crazy idiots run wild through the grocery store circuit like they are Dale Earnhart. Shoulder checking anyone into the wall that is in their path just for a roll of toilet paper and hand santizer. And soap has suddenly become a new thing amongst every day people. As wrestlers, soap has always been our friend. Being clean is taught in every single wrestling room to stave off basic infections since we are a combat sport but most importantly because wrestling has always taught us basic life skills. We've been prepared for this our whole lives, yet everyone else seems to just be learning how to wash and scrub themselves. Things like Defense Soap are mentioned and the responses are met with confusion, as if we have no clue.

While the wild animals grab every food imaginable off the store shelves as they doomsday prepare, us wrestlers know how to do more with less when it comes to food. We know how to survive on less. No other sport has the discipline at the dinner table as a wrestler does. What others are currently worried about, we've trained for daily. More than ever, our world needs wrestling. Not because we are better but because the stuff everyone else takes for granted, has became our daily routine.

Then comes the cabin fever, as you can only keep a caged animal in its cage for so long before it snaps. We need to train. We need to live. We need to let loose. Back yard pummel drills get mentioned. Bundle up and need to run up and down the street to get some release and shed some unwanted pounds. Sooner or later, we all start tucking our socks over our sweats in order to feel normal. If you're one of the lucky ones with a home mat, you likely spend half your day in there now. Math and Science become as after thought to doubles and throws. You rename your throwing dummy and start to have conversations with it in order to keep your sanity. Wilson sounds appropriate for its name.

One thing that can possibly save us is the internet. We can get our wrestling fix from watching the matches of old, but will it be enough. Not likely for those seniors who didn't get to finish or those underclassmen looking to finally make a name for themselves. A kid like Travis Wittlake Jr, who has had an outstanding freshman campaign with a legit chance at an NCAA title and poof its gone. Or a upcoming coach in Chad Hanke at Cal State Bakersfield who has helped lead a resurgence for a once dominating program. And head east to American U, where Tanner Harvey, an underrated recruit, who was finishing his last season there. NJCAA and NAIA mens had got to finish their seasons out, but all three of NCAA's divisions got cut short. Seasons stolen and never to return.

Yes, its a sad state of affairs now and while I have my own opinions of this hysteria, it is possibly for our benefit. But at what cost long term. Jobs will be lost, businesses will close and likely never recover, we all become hermits and shadows of our former selves. All we will have left is our memories and what could've been. Eventually our society will have to return to a somewhat normal life but will it ever truly be the same. Will students return to schools? Will restuarants get their customers back? Will we all be forced to be govt drones due to lost wages? And sports? Will sports events ever be allowed again? Who even knows at this point, especially in a new world of "what if" and how crazy everyone has responded. 

In all this madness, one thing is certain, much like when 9/11 occurred, we will forever be changed by this. In the meantime, find a way to get your workouts in, watch some technique videos or matches and be prepared for when we do get to step back on the mats again. There is a reason we are the oldest known sport. We are resilient, we are tough and we have stood the test of time. This will be no different because the world needs us. 

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