Andy Bluestone

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Wrestling to Find a Network

When my son was young he was actively involved in the community youth sports programs. Dylan loved soccer, baseball and basketball, and I enjoyed attending and coaching his baseball games while watching him grow as an athlete and teammate. At the middle and high school levels many kids drop out of sports programs as they begin to realize they are not as talented as some of their peers. Dylan too began to recognize that his skills were merely average compared to friends who were starting to excel in baseball, his preferred sport.

As a matter of practice, in my family we have family standards; school work and doing your best to get good grades is a priority, playing an instrument, community involvement and participating in sports is mandatory. None of my kids are star athletes, but good enough to qualify for teams of choice. More importantly they are all academically successful and actively involved in extra-curricular and community activities.

Dylan, the last of my three, when leaving middle school proclaimed that baseball was going to be his sport in high school. He realized the competition was tough, that he would struggle to make the team, and that he may even sit on the bench throughout his high school years. He wanted to make the commitment and I supported his choice.

The spring baseball season was several months away from the beginning of the school year and I hoped that Dylan would acclimate to high school faster and wanted him to get involved in a fall or winter sport. I suggested wrestling. He was not very enthusiastic about the idea but agreed to try. The summer before 9th grade he attended 3 weeks of baseball camp and 2 weeks of wrestling camp. Surprisingly, he actually thought wrestling would be a 'cool' thing to do! The part I neglected to realize is that most kids who wrestle in high school have been working on this sport since age 6 or 7...duh...just like baseball, soccer and all the other activities kids do.

Dylan trained hard to learn the sport. He improved rapidly and even qualified for the Varsity team which offered exposure to upperclassmen who brought him into the fold as teammates and friends. When you enter high school, having the opportunity to meet new kids is a huge win for everyone. This group of athletes has a great work ethic, excellent study habits and overall personal discipline I haven't seen in other sports and activities. Much to my surprise, and Dylan's, the wrestling team offered much more than wrestling...it offered a completely new network of friends.

The wrestling network is so important to Dylan that his less than stellar win/loss record was a minor concern. With his full attention on academics and wrestling, his high school baseball career never got off the ground. Spring time is now devoted to wrestling clubs and camps. As he challenged himself to learn a new sport, he never gave up, continued to grow as a person and has developed lifelong friends.

Dylan is learning the power and the value of networking at a very early age. Awesome!!

High school wrestling team....an awesome network!!

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