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Grandpa's Heart

Last Man Standing

Written by Michael Lee Joshua

The sign on the door said: "Wrestling Practice 6:00 PM."

Of course, only those involved ever saw the sign. After all, the practice was for elementary age boys. Why else would we even be here?

But - we were here, along with about 45 of these little first through third graders. They had been practicing already for a couple weeks - by now, each one of them had the special wrestling shoes and a singlet. For those unfamiliar with the term, a singlet is the one-piece, skin-tight uniform that wrestlers wear. When my first-grade grandson, Aiden, got his, he couldn't wait to wear it to practice. He even got to choose whether to wear it blue or red side out - it's a reversible option.

Aiden chose blue the first time he wore it.

It's important to all of us to make choices, especially when we step out of our comfort zones.

Like a first grader choosing to wrestle.

That practice was a bit difficult for him; it seems that because he suffers from a speech disorder, some boys picked on him. One boy, in particular, called him a terrible name and refused to practice drills with him as his partner. That boy's father even went so far as to question my daughter, "What's wrong with him?" It makes one wonder if rudeness is genetic or taught...I guess in this case, it's a little of both.

Aiden spent that practice sitting out when the drills were put into play.

A quick email from my daughter to the coach the next day straightened it out. The coach was unaware of the fact that my grandson had been taunted and treated so disrespectfully the night before. Coach promised to make it his personal goal to ensure that Aiden would always have a partner and be treated with the same respect as each of the other wrestlers. There would not be another night that Aiden sat out because no one wanted to partner with him.

A stand up coach. We are lucky to have him.

Aiden's daddy competitively wrestled in elementary through high school, so he took an immediate interest in Aiden's progress. Not only by attending practices with Aiden, but taking the time to show him some moves, helping him to maneuver around his opponent and stressing to Aiden the importance of keeping his feet moving.

Specific instructions from someone who has been there.

Obviously, a wonderful bonding time between father and son.

Fast forward a couple of weeks.

The sign on the door said: "Wrestling Practice 6:00 PM."

Tonight was to be a turning point and we didn't even see it coming.

After several weeks of practice and drills, the coach brought a new drill into the routine.

Something called "Last Man Standing."

Set up like a tournament, where one boy pins another, then that boy moves up, continuing through the ranks of the boys at practice until only one is left 'standing.'

Imagine my surprise to hear from Aiden after that practice that he won "Last Man Standing." He was very excited to tell his grandma and then me about the competition.

This, from a boy who did not have a partner with whom to practice just a short while ago.

There were two exciting parts to the story.

First: Aiden told me that "I won, even though some of the boys had longer arms than me."

This makes me laugh every time I share it.

Second: After he told me about winning and being presented with a t-shirt that said "Eagan Wrestling" on it, I suggested he call and tell his daddy about it because he would be proud of him too.

His response?

"Daddy knows, he was there."


We all benefit when we gain knowledge from someone who has been there.

Jesus did that for me.

And my father and son moments are amazing too. I'm glad He is there when I make my moves as well. Reminding me to keep my feet moving.

"Last Man Standing" is a worthy goal.


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