The Other Choice

Much like most of you high school kids in grade 9 in Toronto coming from a Caribbean background I wanted so much to be on the basketball team and be a good basketball player. I was 5 foot nothing and very skilled in the sport of basketball among many other sports. But I was lucky enough to be given a choice, my wrestling coach told me that I could be six man coming off the bench in basketball or I could be a superstar Wrestler where I have a lot more success. Choice for me was very obvious at that point my ego wouldn’t let me come off the bench. The choice may not be that easy for some of you, some of you may be taller than I was, or you may not have a high school wrestling coach that was as good of a person as mine was to sit me down and give me that option and break it down to me, but I just want you to know that there’s another choice.

A lot of you have dreams but I beg you to do the research and see how many people or what percentage of the players actually are successful at their hoop dreams. I want to know that this is not a jab at the sport basketball, I love it, it’s a great sport I play it even now recreationally, but in terms of using the sport to help land you in a successful position after high school or university I beg you to weigh your options because there are a lot of other options. They’re only 12 people selected for a basketball team usually, a team of wrestlers can be comprised of up to 30 to 40 on a given high school team. There is no barrier to entry in other words the sport does not favour the tall, because we have weight classes that separate you from your teammates.

You compete against people your size which makes the playground a lot more fair in terms of natural abilities. The sport of wrestling offers you an opportunity to practice Life skills make, making tough decisions, growing through resistance or overcoming hurdles, it teaches you grit and perseverance. In my humble opinion there is no better teacher for game of life than the sport of wrestling but I do have a slight bias. I wanna encourage you to open your mind to other options, there are many other sports out there that can lead you to that university scholarship, that opportunity to get a job doing the thing you love, the knowledge and skills to become a successful person.

Today I’m happy to do what I love and it started with that one decision back when I was 13 years old. And if you ask me would I make that same decision again, the answer is resoundingly yes. The sport of wrestling is taught me a lot about what it means to be successful, what it means to give back to your community, what it means to be prosperous and what is most important in life. I wish for you the very same, open your eyes to the other options. 

Neal Ewers

Executive Director,

Beat the Streets Toronto

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