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    Rev Blog Entry 1: Nate Skaar, UW-LaCrosse

    Well, here it comes again … another wrestling season. I will have to say that this is without a doubt my favorite time of the year. I would like to thank Andrew (Hipps) for asking the Wisconsin-La Crosse Wrestling team to document our season for RevWrestling.com. We will be writing by committee throughout the season and I was elected to do the first of our blog entries.

    I have been asked to submit a season outlook for you all to read. All I can truthfully say is that for now we are working hard as we prepare to meet our high expectations and we are hoping for health and resilience to follow us throughout the season. I am assuming that everyone reading these articles is somewhat of a diehard wrestling fan, and since that is the case I feel very hesitant in writing a clichéd scenario of our team's goals and expectations. Rather, I would like to share some thoughts that are going through my head as I prepare for the season.

    This weekend I drove to Albert Lea, Minnesota -- a great wrestling town. I grew up on a farm outside of AL and went to high school there. My brother is building a shed on his property so I went there to help him pour the concrete slab. Mark Indrelie joined Alex and me in the task. Mark was a state champion in 1981 for the Tigers and had been a key workout partner for Alex and me throughout our years in high school. As we sat around waiting for the cement to set, we got to talking about wrestling … as usual. We brought up stories about my dad, Neal, who coached all of us, about Larry Goodnature, the current coach who was also in the program when we were going through. The Albert Lea team looks pretty salty this year and we are eager to see them perform. We talked about old takedowns and old matches, past workouts and future battles, technique and philosophy, coaching, strategy and everything else that wrestlers discuss on a cold morning sitting around a slab of wet cement on overturned drywall buckets.

    My brother brought up the story of him and Dean Bolte back in 1991. They were college teammates who hung a board in the wrestling room to keep track of takedowns throughout the season. At times they would go through many pounds of sweat before one of them would walk across the room to tally up a mark on the takedown chart. I'm not sure, but I think the other guy was forced to do the tallying for the guy who just took him down … talk about insult to injury. Mark reminisced about the days when he would come into the wrestling room at Albert Lea High School after putting in a full day at work. It was pretty much my every day goal to take him down my entire senior year. He recollected that my takedowns were few and far between, but the cuffs to the back of his head seemed to be a dime a dozen.

    To look at all three of us, you wouldn't see any physical similarities between us whatsoever, besides our ratty looking ears. The conversation got around to the age-old question of what makes a good wrestler. I got to thinking about my team and the individuals that are in our room. Whatever the ingredients for success in wrestling are, I don't assume to hold any secrets. All I can say from my observations is that you need to be a competitive being, willing to push yourself beyond the limits that your body has set for your mind. You need to demonstrate the ability to defy your muscles, your lungs, and those voices that crop up whenever you are tired. I recently heard Rob Koll of Cornell University speak about those voices. He brought up Andre Metzger and the mantra that pulsed through his mind to squelch the voices …"score, score, score." Controlling the mind over the matter, that pretty much sums up a wrestler to me.

    I feel very fortunate to be around a pack of guys who are striving to improve these qualities within themselves. I could run up and down our lineup and quote the accolades these guys have already acquired, but it doesn't have much to do with what's to come, does it? There is a big difference between "can" and "do." These guys are pondering their goals, writing them down, and creating individual plans that they will follow in order to meet their expectations. They are anticipating our schedule and visualizing moments of execution, moments of intensity, flurry, scramble, one more takedown, get another takedown, get riding time, score, score, score.

    Nate Skaar
    I feel very lucky to be a wrestler, to be acquainted with such an army of warriors. I remember being in the Junior High program at Albert Lea and having Chuck Jean as our part-time coach. I am convinced that he was a grizzly bear dressed up as a human being. He taught me and the other guys in that hot, tiny room under the bleachers about attitude without having to say a thing. He showed us a double leg, a crossface cradle, and he tried to convince us that both of them should work every time we hit them. He would grin as he demonstrated moves that were guaranteed to be effective … every time. As my dad would say, "He has a humble arrogance about him." What a quality to have, perhaps one of the foundations underneath every good wrestler.

    You need to be competitive to the core. You have to be disgusted with losing a game of Yatzee to your grandmother. Among the stories told around our cement slab was one from 1993. I was at the National Tournament the night before weigh-ins in a hotel room in Connecticut. My teammates and I had just finished our workout and decided to play a game of scrabble to pass the time. There were four of us in the room: Heath Grimm, Ryan Kittelson, Mark Bell and me. We were down to the end of the tiles, and the scores were very close. I pulled out "auk" with my last three tiles for the win. If memory serves me correctly, Kittelson went looking for a dictionary in protest to my claim that an "auk" was some type of penguin. He was disgusted to find out that I was right and that he in fact lost. Whenever we get together, the mention of that bird mysteriously crops up in our conversations. We weren't just playing scrabble to play scrabble; we were playing to win.

    As wrestlers we share competitiveness, we share stories of cutting weight (except for most of you heavyweights who in my humble opinion are a completely different species of human being … sorry Allen), we share tales from the busses, the hotels, the battles, the losses, the victories, the takedowns, the escapes, all of it. I am pretty eager to add another chapter in the book with the upcoming season. I have a great bunch of guys that I am looking forward to going into battle with. As for a season outlook? I am hoping that the individuals on my team all realize their goals. If that happens, then I am sure that my goals as a coach will be satisfied. When I think about making plans and creating a shared vision, I am reminded of what my old college coach used to say. Davis Johnson, aka "The Silver Fox", would always chuckle when things went our way and say, "I love it when a plan comes together!"

    This weekend my brother, Mark, and I had a plan, and it came together. We got the cement down and finished the job -- probably better than it needed to be. After all, it's just for a wood shed anyway -- it doesn't need to be perfect does it? Right. We had that thing smooth, level, square, and built to last. Of course we did, we are wrestlers. If you are going to do something, do it to the best of your ability. And if that still isn't good enough, improve your ability. Oh yeah, and remember … an "auk" is a stocky black-and-white diving seabird that breeds in arctic regions … it might just come in handy someday.

    Nate Skaar

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