The Junior Varsity team was not made up of the best bowlers. The varsity team, which my friend Dan was on, had the starting lineup. Dan supported me, even though evidence was pointing to the fact that I was not a great bowler. He was always saying, "Dude, the JV team is undefeated. Being on the JV team is not a bad thing." Other people did not see it that way. They way they looked at it, sure, the JV team was undefeated—against other JV teams.
All this was soon not to matter anyways, because when I joined the JV team, I gave them their first loss. I knew they were kind of pissed off at me because of the loss, but they never said anything to me about it specifically. Either way, I soon realized that bowling was not for me.
I finished up the season that freshman year, and I never bowled on a team again. Dan did the same. Instead of bowling sophomore year, he went to wrestling. All of my other friends were stud wrestlers, too. My older brother had been a wrestler when he was in high school as well. I went to his matches as a kid.
I always looked up to my brother and all the other wrestlers I knew. They were true bad asses in my eyes. I knew how tough wrestling was, both physically and mentally. It takes a warrior to get out on the wrestling mat. When Dan went back to wrestling, he and all my other friends who were wrestlers started saying to me, "Nick, you always tell people to try new things. Why don't you try wrestling?"
My response to them was, "I can't. My arm." What I mean by that is my right arm was about five inches longer than it is now, and my bone was growing faster than my skin. It used to look like a chicken wing but now I call it a potato… Yes a potato…. This made the skin super tight around the bone, and it was very sensitive. I couldn't touch it on anything or it would hurt. If I wrestled, my bone could literally break right through my skin and create a bloody mess on the mat.
I was not in any shape to wrestle and I was kind of chubby. But as I thought more about it, I came to the realization that if I was a part of the wrestling team, I could be with my friends, and it would probably also help me instill more confidence in myself and help me become more comfortable in my own skin.
So, I made a conscious decision to go into wrestling to help me with my confidence. I wanted to shovel my way out of the hole I was in. After I had made up my mind that this is what I wanted to do, I went home to my parents and told them, "I want to be a wrestler."
My mom responded, "Oh, God, no. Wrestling is the most physical sport. God forbid you hit your arm and your bone pops through your skin. Then what would we do?"
It took me all of five seconds to come up with a solution.