You can't come back if there is no setback

By Dwight Collins | Jul 23, 2015

Camden — It is not a secret that my life revolves around my kids, work and wrestling. Not the wrastlin' my grandfather use to watch on television, but folkstyle wrestling – the sport of gods.

On July 11, I did something that I had not done in 20 years, I wrestled three competitive matches. Now you might ask whatever possessed me to do it and trust me I asked myself the same question right up to the point that my name was called over the P.A. At 43, you would think I would have the hindsight to understand that I do not heal as fast as I did at 23, however the urge to compete never goes away and once I stepped on the mat I knew there was no turning back.

My journey back to the mat, or more accurately, my journey to health and physical fitness started five years ago after my divorce. Weighing in at whopping 240 pounds, I was on a laundry list of medications of the typical fat guy stuff and could barely get out of my own way. Anxiety and depression had gotten the best of me and I needed to make a change. The weight came off quickly at first and I began to feel much better; the number of medications decreased and my self-esteem increased.

I had shed 40 pounds before I knew it and it wasn't long before I broke the 200 pound mark, 199 pounds looked awesome, but I still had a long way to go.

I have been a wrestling coach for more than half of my life and have been involved in the sport since the fifth grade. I decided that it was time to do more than just stand and coach, I needed to be active. Anytime I got the chance, I put on workout gear and used a hands-on approach to teach kids how to grapple. I was making gains physically, but my mental health was still lingering — bouts of depression came and went and it made it hard to focus and really buckle down to continue.

Just before Thanksgiving 2013, I was working out with one of the high school wrestlers when I ruptured my Achilles tendon and was on the operating table the very next day. I struggled with the fact that I had worked so hard to get to this point physically and now I was looking forward to a year of physical therapy and rehab just to get to the point where I could walk without a limp. I was devastated.

I have never really been one to follow doctors orders, so I was up and doing things within days of the surgery. I pushed through physical therapy and a year later, not only could I walk without a limp, I was jogging and working my way back to where I left off.

A series of personal tragedies and poor choices on my part over-shadowed the physical gains I was making; again, my mind could not find that place that allowed to function like I wanted. At Christmas 2014, I weighed 190 pounds and felt like a pile of stuff. I had to do some serious soul-searching, reach back and dust off my faith in something, and know that everything happens for a reason.

I began the weight drop again and started working with personal trainers that gave me the support to continue going even when I didn't want to. I was making gains in the weight room, and decreasing the weight and soon I was back under 175 pounds and I felt great.

In April 2015 I had another setback, this time a seizure. So here I am again, unable to train and the uncertainty of my condition combined with the inability to release endorphins — it was hard to focus once again. After a month and-a-half off, I began to slowly return to working out and set a goal to wrestle competitively at two tournaments in July.

So I got on the scales to weigh in for the first time in two decades and the three numbers read something I had not seen since high school, it said 1-5-7; what? I was pumped and nervous at the same time.

I have a reoccurring dream, that I am at a wrestling meet and I am trying to make the weight. I never seemed to make it to the scale and that's where it ended. I hope that dreams stops, because guess what — I made it there this time.

Again, I have been coaching almost as long as I've been alive. Saturday, not only did I get to coach my kids, they got to coach me. There also were grown adults in the Open Division that I had coached and even a couple who had coached me. It was a fantastic day.

I'm not going to lie, I was very, very nervous...not because I might lose, but I might get broken. OK, maybe a small part did not want to make a fool of myself, however I was curious to see if I could still compete.

In a four-man round-robin I finished second; I won two matches by pin and lost one 2-0 to a 20-something kid that wrestles at the University of Southern Maine. Not too shabby for a guy with no wind, who in all actuality, had only been training hard for a couple of weeks.

After my matches, people started coming up to me and telling me that I did a good job and I was fun to watch and that made it even better. I'm not a guy that needs the accolades, but it did make me feel pretty good.

The best part of the day was at the end, when my son AJ got to put my medal around my neck. Over the years, I have put dozens of medals around my kid's necks and to have one of them be able to do it for me was certainly a memory made.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Amy Brazier | Jul 29, 2015 12:40

Great story, Dwight!

Posted by: Cynthia M Palacios | Jul 23, 2015 22:02

You have athletic, fighter blood in your veins, Wayne! There is no quitter in you! Congratulations on your accomplishments!

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