I’ve had a couple people ask me “Tyson, what have you done for the local youth” after reading my previous editorial about Port Hardy needing a community recreation centre.
Well, I’m glad they asked. Not only have I spent four years here at the North Island Gazette writing about youth sports, I’ve also recently made the decision to donate my free time in the evenings to coaching high school wrestling this season. That’s right. I’m giving back to the youth by teaching them about the sport at my old stomping grounds where I first learned takedowns, pins, escapes, and reversals.
I can’t take all the credit for the decision. Mike Cleary was the one who stepped up to the plate and invited me to attend his PE class to show some techniques and wrestle some matches, and he quickly agreed to be the teacher sponsor after we saw how enthused the kids were.
I have lots of great memories from my time spent at Port Hardy Secondary School, and after 17 years I finally got back on their old wrestling mats. I’m a little banged up and sore as I’m typing this (I haven’t wrestled or trained jiu jitsu in about four years), but it still feels good to have made a comeback after a bit of a lengthy layoff.
Anyways, my first impression is that the talent level here in Port Hardy is quite high and there are definitely a few beasts who are more than ready to do what it takes to get good at the sport.
I’m looking forward to the season starting up and hopefully we get a good turnout of students on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s from 5:00-6:00 p.m. (we might go till 6:30 if an hour isn’t long enough).
If we get enough kids out participating, we’ll then form an official team and go compete down island in places like Campbell River and Port Alberni.
With that out of the way, the most important thing to me isn’t winning. I really just want the kids to have fun, learn something new, build confidence, get in better shape, and understand what it takes to persevere under pressure.
Wrestling teaches you about personal responsibility and mental toughness, because it’s only you out there on the mat. There’s no one else backing you up. Your teammates can’t step in if things aren’t going your way. You have to be ready to go every single match, and if you’re not, you’re going to have a bad day on the mats.
I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t of wrestled, and I like to think my work ethic and drive to succeed comes from that experience.
Tyson Whitney is an award-winning journalist who was born and raised in Port Hardy. His family has lived in Port Hardy for more than 40 years. He graduated with a degree in writing from Vancouver Island University in 2008. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org