By Steve Fraser
January 10, 2018
Happy New Year! With the New Year, we can think about new dreams, new goals and new habits. We can let frustrations and bad habits dissolve away. Now is the time to focus on a new beginning to the rest of our lives. Today is the day and 2018 is the year we can forget about the past and feel positive and good about our future.
We can be happy about our past year’s success and/or effort and then regardless if it met our expectations or not, we can move forward with a whole new resolve.
Anything and everything is possible. It doesn’t matter how we did last year. Do you believe this? Well you should. Because it is true.
Who would have thought an average kid from Hazel Park, Michigan could ever accomplish something like winning a gold medal in the Olympic Games? Who could ever imagine this? Probably not too many people, especially people from Hazel Park. The small suburban town of Detroit, Michigan, Hazel Park was known for their strong wrestling program and had many very successful wrestlers, no doubt. But Olympic Champion??? Come on, pretty big vision, one might say.
Even I did not see the potential back when I was in high school. Yes, I wanted to become a state champion. But Olympic Champion? I did not think that big at this time in my life.
Next for me was to make the University of Michigan’s starting line-up. Ugh! And as a freshman, with senior Mark Johnson, two-time NCAA finalist in my weight class, it was going to be a big task.
Then the goal was to become an All-American, Big Ten Champ and even NCAA Champ. This was no longer high school though. All the wrestlers at the college level were all the best of the best at the high school level. Dang! The competition just got stronger in a big way.
For me, it was during the latter part of my college career when I started thinking, hmmm… maybe, if I keep improving and getting better I can give international wrestling a shot. Maybe I can do something fun and big in the sport of freestyle and Greco-Roman. Hmmm… maybe I can win a World or even an Olympic medal? Maybe even a gold medal!
As a National Coach for 20 years, I have come to realize that there are many different paths that the best wrestlers in the world take to become champions. It varies to some degree, for sure. An athlete’s dreams and goals might begin at various stages in a career. Those dreams and goals also get adjusted, rethought and change as we win and lose, succeed and fail. The journey we take throughout our careers doesn’t always look like our fellow wrestler’s journey.
This is where patience, fortitude and determination come into play. Might you ever think that the top champions in our sport ever have some doubt whether or not they can actually accomplish their dreams and their goals? Ha! I assure you, many do at times.
In the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, who would ever have thought Rulon Gardner could ever have beat the Russian Bear, Alexander Karelin (multiple world and Olympic champion), who hadn’t lost in 13 years? Ha! No one did! Even Rulon Gardner did not think that he could beat this wrestling superstar icon.
Who would have thought our US Greco-Roman program could ever win a World Team title? In 2007 do you think the world and the United States were surprised that Team USA Greco won it all? USA Greco? World Champions? Come on! Especially considering that in World Championship and Olympic wrestling history, USA Greco once struggled to win even a few matches in those competitions.
What about the athletes that went from the wrestling world to the fighting world… do you think Randy Couture, Dan Henderson, Matt Lindland, Daniel Cormier, Cheal Sonnen to name a few, were clear and predictable winners in the UFC? I don’t think so.
Only one thing is certain in this life we live in. One day we will breathe our last breath and our short life will be over. No one can predict when that day will arrive. It doesn’t matter who you are, we are on this earth for a time and then we are gone.
I encourage everyone reading this column to “go for it!” Don’t wait for tomorrow. Don’t wait for next month. Don’t wait for next year. Don’t wait for the perfect situation. Just do it. Do it now. Go for your dreams with relentless intensity and never look back. Believe you can achieve your wildest dreams, because trust me… you can!
As always, expect to win!