Warriors On and Off the Mat
There are many aspects of our Warrior community that unite us. Whether its connection to our teachers, to our fellow students, or to Des Plaines, there is much that brings us together as one strong Maine West family. This is one of the most impressive qualities of Maine West. Before Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to be further impressed by the sportsmanship and camaraderie displayed at the Maine West Wrestling Warriors community wrestling clinic. I can honestly say that I have never been so blown away by another group of students, and I walked away very proud of the amazing things I saw taking place on the mats.
These wrestling Warriors will take to the mats tonight — Friday, Dec. 13 — at home at 5:30 p.m. in the B-Wing gym against Vernon Hills, and I have no doubt that they will bring the same sportsmanship, talent, and respect to the mat as they did when they were working with the kids of Des Plaines.
When I first arrived at West that Saturday to witness their clinic, I didn’t expect to see such a turn out of people. Not only this, but I recognized my own neighbors, people I never anticipated running into at 10 a.m. on a Saturday. I soon had the opportunity to meet Chris. Brassell, the current wrestling coach, who eagerly told me all about the program and the goal that the Warriors had in reaching out to the community. He explained that every single student that arrived that morning would be paired with a Warrior for the entire clinic. Soon I was able to witness exactly what he was talking about.
In a few seconds, I myself was on the mats. No shoes of course. I situated myself against a wall and began to watch an amazing surplus of Maine West students and the many, many young children running around them, all of them chasing gator skin dodgeballs, and jumping joyfully around the team members. I watched as one team member handed a dodgeball to a child, and help them figure out just where to throw it. I even saw one team member run with a child in their arms to help them get someone out. Through all of this, everyone was smiling. They were all having fun.
Soon, the lesson shifted gears, and all participants were jogging, bear crawling, jumping, and shuffling around the mat. Every kid was following their partner, looking up to see exactly what they were doing, comparing their own technique against that of the wrestlers. At one point, one child took a complete wipeout, face-first into the mats. But they got up very quickly, looking bashfully at their much-taller-than-them partners, and continued the exercise gleefully.
After their warm-up, another exercise began, this time with the children trying not to touch jump ropes held around three feet in the air by several Warriors. Soon, every little boy and girl were trying their hardest to avoid touching the ropes above them, all the while the Warriors cheered them on, congratulating them through every step, and encouraging them to focus on the task in front of them.
Even this was not the most impressive part of the meet. Before their first water break, the Warriors and their young partners, all rallied together and in one voice chanted “Maine West-Warriors! Maine West- Warriors! Maine West- Warriors!” These words meant so much. They displayed the teamwork, dedication, and love for wrestling that all members of the team shared. Even more so, they gave a real example of who Warriors are. This spirit was clear in every single interaction that I witnessed taking place that Saturday. Whether it was in giving a child a ball or helping a mentally disabled student participate in the clinics, the Warriors were truly impressive in their conduct and demeanor.
“You want to be a champion on and off the mat,” said Brassell. “It’s what you learn from the sport and take away from it. That’s one thing that we really practice with these guys — it’s about giving back to others. We aren’t just out here for ourselves.” It was clear the Warriors had this in mind that day.
So, to all those will represent West tonight, I applaud you and thank you for representing the true spirit of the Maine West Warriors. If you couldn’t tell, every boy and girl on those mats looked up to you the entire time you were mentoring them during the clinic. Literally, but also figuratively. You demonstrated sportsmanship. You demonstrated what it looks like to devote yourself to a sport, but also to the people around you. Thank you for representing our school well, and ultimately for demonstrating to the entire community what it looks like to be a Warrior.