Wrestling in University

A Letter to a New University Athlete

HEY IT’S SIMI

For the last 2 years I have had the amazing opportunity to train as a university athlete. However, while still in high school, I saw the transition as daunting. I was recovering from an injury, didn’t know many people who were wrestling in university and I had hardly stepped foot on a campus. Beyond the athletic side of things, I was terrified that the academics would be too overwhelming in and of themselves. All in all, I was racked with doubts and questions. Reflecting on how I must have been feeling this time two years ago, here is what I would have liked to have been told:


Dear You,

First of all, congratulations on all that you have done up until this point. You’re in the final stretch of many years of early mornings and seven hour days and you should be proud of all that you’ve accomplished in that time. I know you’ve got your sights set on what’s next but never forget that you’re doing a good job.

University. It’s easy for something full of so many unknowns to seem scary. Trust me when I say that it’s not as bad as it seems but more than that, trust yourself.

You are perfectly capable of mastering all that is ahead of you. First year is made up of just that, people in their first year who know just as much or less than you do about what this journey has in store. The only way to really get ahead is to believe in yourself. Start actively combating any thought that might be holding you back. Respond to and challenge your negative thoughts with hope and confidence.

From my own experience with university, here is what I’ve realized about the areas in which I was worried I would flounder:

Academically,

The material is made for someone coming out of high school and with appropriate effort, you will excel. You are more capable than you realize and deserve to be where you are. Stay on top of things and NEVER hesitate to make the most of every resource in place to help you. Do your studying on time and in help centers, ask questions, and be excited when you can be.

Athletically,

I have found that in the right environment, you don’t have to be the fastest, most experienced, or most technical to be a great wrestler. To have a good experience all you need to do is show up and be ready to be coached. Don’t be afraid of being happy to be training where you are! Coaches will appreciate an athlete that is coach-able and carries a good attitude - you do not have to be the best. Even if the environment is not all that it could be, you can change your environment with positivity and character instead of being changed by it. But trust me when I say that regardless of how terrible you might think you are starting out, stick to it and you will admire all that you will do. It’s not over until you give up.

Socially,

Be yourself and find the joy that you have within you. The more at peace you are with who you are, the more beautiful the people you attract.

So in short, it will all be okay.

With love,

Simi

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An Interview with one of BTST OG’s, Adam Pacyga

Dejah here!

This week I got to reconnect with an old pal of mine who is also one of BTST’s originals. For me the beat the streets Saturday morning 11-1pm practices at Newton Brook back in the day was something I really looked forward to every single weekend. There I got to experience many different coaching styles, different training partners and new technique. I loved every second of those 2 hour practices!

Through those BTST practices I got to met some of my very good friends that are still apart of my life today and I truly am thankful for that, with all that being said one of the greatest friends that I had made through this program is named Adam Pacyga.

Adam is 20 years young and wrestles out of Western University.

Adam is 20 years young and wrestles out of Western University.

How did you get into wrestling ?

I started out as a football player in high school, and a couple of my teammates talked me into joining the wrestling team. I took to the sport pretty quickly, and by the time I realized just how steep the learning curve really is, I was too hooked to quit.

  2. How and when did you get involved with BTS?

In the summer after my first year of wrestling, I asked one of the preeminent Toronto high school coaches, Bernard Sanchez, who had been helping me out throughout the season, for any opportunities to keep wrestling over the summer and outside of the high school season, and he put me in contact with BTS.

 3.  What life lesson has wrestling taught you?

Too many to count. I would quite simply not be where I am today, academically, physically, or as a person if it were not for this sport. The one character trait above all that wrestling develops is resilience. I have had countless failures and setbacks throughout the past fews years, ranging from a torn ACL to disappointing grades, and without the mental toughness and ability to persevere that wrestling cultivates, I would have given up a long time ago.

 4. What kind of opportunities has wrestling brought you (whether it be schooling, job opportunities or as simple as friendships?

Beat the Streets alone has brought me more opportunities than I deserve, from a summer job that is more fulfilling and rewarding then I could have dreamed of, to some of my closes friends that I am grateful for every day. Beyond that, wrestling truly does bring people together, and the people on the Western team feel more like a family than any other friend group I can recall having in my life. Working hard and suffering alongside a group of people is the best way to make friends, and I can’t imagine not having the people around me that I do today.

 5. What was your fondest memory at BTS?

The trip that we took to Ohio to wrestle at the Ohio State Fair was one of my favourite weekends of my youth, as apart from being exposed to a completely different culture of wrestling and a different level of talent, I got to spend time with my friends and people I looked up.

 6. Who in the wrestling world is your role model/ someone you look up to and why?

While the traditional answer would have to be Jordan Burroughs, just for the pure work ethic and dedication that he exhibits every day, the more honest answer for me would have to be some of my teammates at Western. Having driven, hard-working people next to you in practice pushes you to match their level, and having a person next to you giving it their all during sprints and conditioning forces you to do the same, and without that I wouldn’t work half as hard as i do.

7. What is an inspirational quote that has meaning to you please explain why?

My favourite is a lengthy one, 

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. - 1910, Theodore Roosevelt

This quote is particularly meaningful to me, as there have been many times where I would question myself and my abilities, and would feel that if I cant do something perfectly, why bother at all? This quote and the greater meaning behind it push me to work as hard as I can and commit myself fully to whatever I’m doing, even if I might lose or look stupid. I think almost everybody who wrestles, or plays any kind of sport, knows the feeling of self-handicapping when faced with a tough opponent, so they can say to themselves “I wasn’t really trying my hardest” as a way of placating themselves after the loss. I feel that this mindset is toxic and does not mitigate failure, but only ensures it, and the meaning behind this quote helps me to keep that in mind in everything I do.

A special thank you to Adam for doing this interview with me, very much appreciated.