Alone on the Mat, Together in Spirit

Amidst the echoes of shouts resounding through the gym, the wrestler only sees the competition in front of them on the mat. In that moment of anticipation, they know that it’s up to them to demonstrate all the theory, dedication, and training put in will count during the meet.

On Saturday December 10th, the Enloe wrestling team embarked into the 2nd Annual Joe Johnson Wrestle for Pride tournament which was held at Enloe, full of fervor to win. And win they did. In a series of bouts that would have rendered the Ancient Greeks speechless, we had four Eagles place in their respective classes: Elliot Hollis 1st, Quincy Cormier 2nd, Aaron Hollis 2nd, and Jesse Middleman 4th.

A frantic, exciting energy could be felt upon entering the tournament, which was hosted in the West Gym of the Nest. Team captains on both sides of each match could be heard, shouting advice and words of encouragement to their teammates in the ongoing matches. Enloe’s optimism could be felt whilst speaking with the team, and their coach, Ryan Baity. “The success of this team depends on how hard we work on the mat, in the classroom,” says Baity.“If we can stand together, we’ll be a tougher team to beat.” 

Elliott Hollis, this year’s captain, explains the life lessons one can expect to learn from entering the sport. “You have your team that you train and practice, making each other better. And then that makes them your family. You learn about leadership, hard work, and just a lot about yourself. I’ve seen it make a lot of kids better people.”

When asked how his personal relationship with wrestling reflects this, Hollis describes, “My growth in wrestling and my growth as a person really occurred in tandem. Over time, my biggest development was my focus changing from being just about myself to the betterment of the team. I get more happy watching my teammates win than when I win myself.”

Hollis recalled one of his favorite memories of the team. He fondly recalls, “I’ll never forget the day we lost Grady and Jesse.” On a practice day where they were doing cardio conditioning, the wrestlers were doing a long-distance relay exercise near Enloe along a greenway segment. “We have two guys on the team, Jesse and Grady, who are faster runners than everyone else,” Hollis explains.“We spent thirty minutes running up and down the trail, looking for Jesse and Grady, trying to call them. It turns out they had just kept going along the beltline. That was the most memorable team bonding moment I’ve ever had.”

Francisco Loncan, a freshman on the team, calls wrestling one of the most demanding sports there is and confirms that the sport is definitely not to be underestimated in difficulty. As he puts it, “Not in terms of physicality, per se, but definitely in terms of mentality. It’s a lot to do with quitting. When you quit here, it only becomes easier to quit and quit [in life]. Not all practices have to be fun, but if you’re working to gain some benefit, they’ll never come if you quit.”

Coach Baity also attributes the team’s successes to their perseverance,“We have to maintain discipline and stay committed. If we can do that, then this program will grow more and more.”

More than impressive feats of strength, Enloe’s wrestling provides the opportunity for anybody to grow, on and off the mat, granted they have the commitment to work hard. That being said, anyone who joins wrestling can count on it that their efforts would never go unsupported with a community that rallies around each other as fiercely as the wrestling team at Enloe does.

Enloe’s next wrestling match will take place at the Nest on December 20th. They will be up against Broughton, Athens, and Cardinal Gibbons. Make sure to show up and show support for our fellow Eagles!

Photography by Sarah Lynerd @millsmedia.jpg