Again – Chapter 16 – JohnA Passaro
Once you’ve wrestled,
Everything else in life is easy.
I can remember the exact day when I considered myself a wrestler.
It happened at a baseball field, during my brother Joe’s high school game.
I was 13 years old and I was struggling with the transition of going from the small fields to the big fields.
No matter how hard I tried, my 100-pound body just couldn’t hit a ball out of the infield, especially on a day that the wind was blowing in.
Which, unfortunately, at William Floyd High School, was every day.
“Hey Passaro, come here for a second,” said Ray Flores, a high school wrestler.
I had heard that Ray was one of the top wrestlers in Suffolk County that year.
I was in awe.
“Is he actually calling for me?”
“Let me see your glove for a second,” he commanded as I walked over to him.
“My glove?” I thought to myself.
I prided myself on being a great defensive ball player, so asking to see my glove was as close to crossing the line as it could get.
I reluctantly handed it over to Flores.
He took my glove from me and simultaneously reached into his pocket and pulled out a pen.
“What is he doing… is he crazy?” I remember thinking to myself in a sudden fury.
I tried to grab my glove back before he sacrilegiously defaced my identity, but he shielded me with his 160-pound main frame.
My heart sank.
It was a Rawlings.
You see, I oiled my glove once a week.
I baked it in the oven with a baseball in the palm, held tightly with rubber bands in just the perfect shape.
It took me a year to get it to be a perfect glove.
How could he take it upon himself to just scribble on it like that?
“Here you go, Passaro,” he said as he turned back around and handed the glove back to me.
And there, scratched in the oil bound leather of the left forefinger of my most prized possession, was the advice that changed my life.
“Hey Passaro, throw the glove away. Get a head gear and wrestle.”
I slept with my glove that night, as I did every night, but when I woke up the next morning, I was a wrestler instead of a ballplayer.
Thirty-six years later, I know that one of the greatest assets I have in my life, besides my family and friends, is the sport of wrestling.
We spend 8 hours a day, for 10 months a year, for nearly 17 years sending our kids to school to help prepare them for life.
In all of that time, there is never a course in overcoming adversity, goal setting, sacrifice, and perseverance, being a great teammate or family member.
I guess that is what the sport of wrestling is for.