58: The Pin

58: The Pin

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Possible

The Pin

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels.

~Maya Angelou

Ever since joining my high school’s wrestling team, I dreamed of pinning a boy. I knew that it was rather farfetched as I was smaller and weaker than the boys in my weight class, who appeared to have been training for wrestling ever since they were born. After being unable to compete freshman year due to a serious concussion, I made it my mission to pin a boy during my sophomore year, and every second I spent at practice was another second I was closer to achieving my dream.

That victory would come sooner than I expected.

In early January, my team was invited to participate in a tournament at a local high school. Despite losing all my matches so far in the season, I remember feeling rather optimistic that my dream would come true as I packed my singlet and headgear into my duffel bag.

My first match in the tournament was over in two minutes. I was near the edge of the ring, sprawling with my legs stretched out far from my body. But in an instant the boy had hooked his arm around my leg and toppled me over to my back, pinning me. I lost my second match too.

By this point in the tournament, I was exhausted, both physically and emotionally. I wanted to give up and go home. But then I gave myself a lecture: “You don’t practice two hours each day to go home,” I thought, preparing for my third match. “You practice to succeed.”

As I stepped onto the mat with my opponent, I took a moment to observe him. He was around my height and definitely stronger. Nervously, I shook his hand, starting the match.

We spent the first few seconds tugging and pulling on each other, snapping each other’s heads down. Thinking I had the opportunity to shoot, I took a shot — lurching forward as I glided my knees across the mat and grasped his leg. Within an instant, he sprawled, kicking his legs back and dropping his weight on me. I struggled to hold onto his leg, feeling my fingers slipping as he continued to stretch his legs back and dig his hips into my neck. So instead of holding on, I decided to slide out from under him.

Quickly, I moved my right leg and slid out from under him. He fell on to the mat, and as he sprang back up, I heard cheers around the mat as the spectators realized that it was a girl who had slid out of a boy’s grasp.

I felt my confidence growing. The second round had started. I started on my knees and had to scramble onto my feet. He made an attempt to lock me in his arms, and I successfully peeled myself away from him. We continued to pull and tug at each other’s arms as we contemplated what to do next.

By the third round I was out of breath, and I began to fear I’d lose out of pure exhaustion. But as he made a grab for me, I managed to slip around him and wrap my arms around his torso, making a quick but sturdy butterfly grip.

I tried lifting him off the ground by bumping his hip with mine. He just teetered forward, too big for me to lift him. Instead, I turned my body in a corkscrew-like motion, twisting him to the ground as I landed on top of him. My heart hammered in my chest. I kept my knees off the ground as I continued to apply pressure by digging my hips into his broad back. I felt him flatten under me, and I continued to push harder as I gasped for air, completely aware of all the eyes staring at me.

As my coaches and teammates shouted words of encouragement, I shuffled around him to line up with his side. Quickly, he lifted up his arm so that his elbow made a bend as he started to get off the mat. Yet all those hours of practice flooded back to me in a split second and I fiercely hooked my arm into his and began to drive forward so that he, once lying on his stomach, was beginning to turn over onto his back.

“Stay off your knees!” I heard someone shout.

“Keep pushing!” another person roared.

The referee got down on the mat as I felt my opponent’s shoulder touch the mat. I locked my feet in place, my legs shaking as I struggled to apply pressure by staying off my knees. I could feel him squirm under me, and the referee began the countdown to a pin.

The referee slapped the mat once.

I made my grasp around the boy tighter.

He slapped the mat again.

I looked up at the ceiling — “counting the ceiling tiles” as my coaches put it, so my chest would apply pressure to my opponent. He slapped the mat again.

I could feel sweat dripping from my hair cap, my body almost crumbling from exhaustion.

The referee blew the whistle with a final slap, and the whole gymnasium erupted in cheers.

“I did it,” I thought, pulling myself off my opponent. I was practically beaming as I realized what I had just done. “I pinned a boy!”

The referee grabbed my arm and lifted it in the air, signifying my victory.

I was a champion, and everyone on the bleachers could see it. And even though I didn’t place in that tournament, I accomplished my personal goal. All the hours of sweat and exhaustion I had endured through practice had led up to that sweet moment of success. But my greatest victory that day was not my win, but my realization that by working hard, I could do anything I set my mind to, no matter how impossible it might seem.

~Madison Kurth

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