Wrestling team promotes cohesiveness

Wrestling team promotes cohesiveness

For a sport played between two people, wrestling is actually about the whole team.

Some think of wrestling as an individual sport, or even as a selfish one. A varsity team captain, senior Ramesses Akamefula experienced this firsthand when he decided to quit football to focus on his wrestling career.

“I had a lot of guys call me selfish, self-centered, because I chose wrestling, which is an individual sport, over football, which is a team sport,” Akamefula said. “It was just the best decision I could’ve made at the time.”

While Akamefula agrees that in the end, wrestling is focused on two individuals in a match, he finds wrestling more team oriented than traditional team sports, creating a unique team environment that helps every individual train together.

“Something that coach Carver’s really taught me is that there a lot of team aspects in wrestling,” Akamefula said. “It’s different in football; you have a lot of guys on the sidelines, not doing anything at all, but in the wrestling room you could be a first year guy or a state champ, everyone’s doing the same work.”

Akamefula finds that the team atmosphere has motivated him to push harder, citing the fact that everyone on the team, no matter age or level, practices together. Doing the same conditioning helps wrestlers, even if they are freshman beginners or state champions.

“You see one guy who works their butt off, and that makes you want to work harder. It excites me when I see a teammate of mine do exceptionally well,” Akamefula said. “It makes me want to strive for the next level.”

Akamefula’s teammate, junior Yuvi Shatil, echoed this sentiment. During his freshman year, his first year as a wrestler, he sometimes practiced with a more experienced junior.

“He would always dominate me, but it actually made me a lot better, going with someone who was so much better than me,” Shatil said.

As he enters his third year on the team, Shatil believes that the wrestling team atmosphere is beneficial in matches. According to Shatil, any small improvement made in the wrestling room helps a wrestler to push harder, versus a team sport, where efforts and improvements are made to improve the overall team.

“It’s important that your teammates do well for the team, but a teammate making a mistake isn’t going to directly affect you in the same way,” Shatil said. “This goes back to your not counting on anyone else. You’re not relying on anyone else, your team can’t be carried by one good wrestler.”

According to Shatil, this creates a more intense atmosphere during matches.

“The whole idea behind the sport is that we work harder than everyone else,” Shatil said. “The fact that it’s all you means that if the other wrestler is putting out everything they have for the duration of match you have to do the same.”

Shatil also finds that his coach, Michael Carver, aides wrestlers by constantly offering corrections and pushing them to work harder, after both good and bad meets.

Carver said that the mindset of a wrestler fluctuates with losses and wins throughout the season, and does all that he can to help wrestlers tackle both the mental and physical elements of wrestling.

“[In] wrestling, losing is completely your responsibility,” Carver said. “If you lose a wrestling match, what typically runs through the mind is ‘What did I not do well? Was I prepared enough? What mistakes did I make?’”

Carver employs many techniques to help wrestlers combat this mental doubt, including team activities. One such activity is to help wrestlers work on focus by having them sit in a dark room as a team, and visualize the outcomes of their meets.

Carver sees wrestling as a sport that should hone one essential skill and thought.

“We talk about visualizing [those] things. You visualize yourself scoring points, and using techniques that you’ve practiced, and then ultimately see yourself winning,” Carver said. “You’re training not only your mind but your body to constantly have that sense that you’re going to win.”

Akamefula, a varsity member since freshman year and States placer, is still motivated by this team atmosphere and Carver’s exercises. As one who may be looked up to by others on the team in such an intense sport, Akamefula brings one simple philosophy with him to every match.

“Going to each match, I’m just going to do what I can do, and do everything that I can do to win.”

Julianna Kaplan can be contacted at [email protected]