Being the Best on the Mat
I grew up going to church, and my parents were believers with a strong faith in God. In eighth grade, I accepted Christ while on a trip to Georgia. I knew I needed Christ to show me the way, and that’s when I made Him the No. 1 point in my life. Getting involved with church youth groups and going on mission trips solidified my Christian faith for me.
My dad was a wrestling coach and I fell in love with the sport. I grew up in sweaty wrestling gyms from age five and started competing in tournaments at age seven. I had a successful high school career but did not win state my freshman year, so I almost gave it all up. I took some time off to come to my senses and ended up with a new club coach. I won three state titles the next years, had a pretty successful college career, and started coaching.
I want the guys I coach to know I am doing things the right way and not for show. I want my faith to show through my everyday activities. I think there are a lot of coaches that want their kids to do the right things but aren't doing the right things themselves. My motto is preparation changes your expectations.
I've been in awe of the Olympics for a long time and always thought it would be great to go someday. I took fifth place in the 2008 Olympic Trials and second in the 2010 World Championships; I knew what it took but wasn't pushing through. So I thought maybe I was done with wrestling. I took second at the World Team Trials in 2009 and then took the year off for the birth of my daughter.
I decided to get back out there, that I had one more go in me. I won the U.S. Open in 2010 and then took second at the World Team Trials on a controversial call. I knew I didn't want to go out like that; I needed closure. I started training then for the 2012 Olympic Trials.
In April 2012, I competed in the Trials in Iowa. I never felt so confident or at peace in a match. I drew some tough matches and came in the fifth seed, wrestling five returning World Team members. The finals match was me against the guy I lost to in 2010, and this time I won.
I think God has given me this opportunity to tell my story. I’m around a lot of people as a coach and through camps, and it’s a way to share my walk with Christ. There are struggles in life, and you’re going to have to persevere. In the ultimate end, God has what’s right in mind, no matter what level it is.
It’s not just about being the best on the mat, but being the best you can be in every walk of life.