A Respite From Hell or Day 2 at the Rocky Mountain Rumble

Day 2:  We wake up in the beautiful city of Orem, Utah.  It is January 2013 and we are here to attend the Rocky Mountain Rumble Wrestling Tournament. This year there are 68 teams competing with many state champions and state placers from last year in attendance.  We just endured a 13 plus hour bus ride to get here and we are looking forward to breakfast.  Now I grew up with an old grouchy, loud, cowboy/logger for a dad.  Breakfast was cooked by him and it was MANDATORY.  He was not a particularly good cook or singer but unfortunately he did both every morning.  Runny fried eggs or flat egg looking rocks,  burned bacon and oatmeal that was runny or impenatrable.  In my 50’s breakfast holds a special place in my heart.  I became a good cook because I got tired of the countless breakfasts described above.  When I wake up in Utah  I think “Yum!” and head downstairs to the continental breakfast.  Last year when we came to this tournament the breakfast was to die for.  Large heated trays of eggs, bacon, sausage and oatmeal.  Hot cakes and many other tasty morsels abounded.  I forgot we changed to a different lower priced hotel this year.  I walk into the lobby and see the breakfast spread…I think my dad cooked it.  Damn and double damn.

Cold hard-boiled eggs, toast, and watered down juice.  Some packaged oatmeal and various and sundry other less than appetizing offerings.  I then remember the boys have to weigh in shortly for the tournament.  They have certainly done so in their rooms as soon as they woke up.  Depending on their weight breakfast may not be an option for them.

I see the boy “Captain America”  stroll in and raise my eyebrows.  He knows the question and grins.  He says “Weighed 194.5.  I get to eat!”  He gets a two-pound allowance at this tournament so he can weigh 197 pounds and make weight.  He loads up a pound and a half of food so he has a one pound leeway.  I can’t imagine doing that in high school.  He doesn’t bat an eye.

The team eats quick and light and heads out to weigh in at 9:30  a.m., tournament starts at noon, so the parents have a little more time.  We eat breakfast, such as it is, and then another set of parents invite us to Costco to buy wrestler food.  We hop in their car and hit Costco.  Cases of Gatorade, bananas, bag of tangerines, box of apples and off to the lunch counter.

We gobble lunch and jet to the Utah Valley College main gym.  It must seat 5,oo0 or so and is about 1/3 full.  68 teams are registered.  One of the largest tournaments in the western united states.  The tournament starts at 106 pounds and there are 64 wrestlers at each weight.  Each match lasts about 6-10 minutes, there are 12 mats…The boy weighs 196.  You do the math on how long we sat there.    He wrestled at 4 p.m..  He was nervous   and just nibbled a sandwich and sipped water from breakfast until the match.

He wrestled a kid with a 16-11 record and beat him easily 6-2.  His next match was at 7 p.m. so he ate a sandwich and drank a Gatorade.  The next young man he faced had a record of 23-3.  Billy wrestled tough into the 3rd period.  The other kid was up 5-2  when Billy made a mistake and boom!  Kid spun left, Billy held still, kid spun right and pin!  So…now we wait through the hour-long break, walk next door to the smaller gym and watch the Utah Valley wrestling team wrestle Arizona State.  We stay and watch the college 197 pounders so he can see what they look like.

We head back to the big arena and watch (I am not making this up) match 794.  This is so we can see who wins and gets to wrestle with my very cranky son.   The winner is declared so now we wait…for match 906.  Wrestlers are gettin’ a little wound up now ’cause if you lose two matches you are done.  Everyone still rolling tonight has lost once already.

My kid, Captain America, looks a little deceiving when he warms up.  He wears the biggest warm up jacket on the team.  The one that is for the 285 pound wrestler.  He wears it because sometimes he rolls at 285 pounds and he is the biggest kid on our team.  Bottom line…it makes him look skinny.  He most definitely is not.  When he warms up he listens to some kinda music that sounds like a bad chainsaw and stomps around getting more and more pissed.  Then he goes out and usually wins.

Tonight he is way motivated and the assistant coach actually video tapes Billy warming up.  He looks scary.  As the match comes up the opponent watches Billy take off his jacket and pulls up his wrestling singlet straps over his shoulders.  This causes much flexing and bunching of muscles.  The opponent looks over at Billy and turns to his coach and says “Do I have to wrestle HIM?”  The coach looks at the kid and nods.  The kid hangs his head.  My tiny Captain America kid stalks out on the mat and dominates the kid 5-0.  The ref raises Billy’s hand and the other kid says “man are you strong”.

It has been a heck of a year so far.  Captain America is 2-1 on the first day of a major tournament, is 20-10 for the season and is so buff he is scary.  So other than me not finding any tasty food the entire day, cause wrestlers don’t care if they eat, it was a great day.

Up at 6 a.m. tomorrow, at the college to weigh in at 8:45 a.m., watch him wrestle twice, on bus at 8 p.m. when all the kids are done and then a comfy 13 hour bus ride home after dinner at… the Wal-Mart McDonald’s.  We must love that boy!

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26 Hours in Hell or Trip to the Rocky Mountain Rumble Wrestling Tournament

The charter bus is stuck!  Well, let’s see…We pulled into the parking lot at the high school at 9:00 p.m., the spousal unit, Captain America and I.  We have steeled ourselves for the 13 hour charter bus ride to Orem, Utah, for the Rocky Mountain Rumble Wrestling Tournament.  Damn, the very large charter bus is stuck on a small snow bank and it is 18 degrees. Now, understand, this does not my confidence level increase.  We have to cross three states with this bus and these drivers.  If a small snowbank in a large parking lot at a school with a bus lane around it that they didn’t use defeats them then…well…you get it.  The two drivers have a combined age of oh…140.  They have one shovel, snow chains that the bus has to be jacked up to be put on and a lot of advice from wrestler’s dads.  I am on vacation, have to pee, am thirsty (is that weird?) and know jack shit about getting a bus unstuck.  We drive to the stop and rob (all night gas station)  down the road and empty bladders, buy beverages and return.  One quick hour later we are on the road.

Ever ridden on a charter bus?  The normal sized humans are doin’ o.k., the smaller ones are comfy… and I look like an elephant shot out of a cannon into a phone booth. The parents all got double seats to ourselves but COME ON MAN!!! If I sit normal my knees are against the seat in front of me. I don’t mean making light contact touching, I mean fabric imprint on my knees touching.  If I sit all the way sideways my feet are in the aisle seat of the person across from me.  If I turn part way to the side I get multiple body parts encountering multiple plastic bus seat parts or a sensation similar to what happens to a tall tree in a windstorm. I don’t fold, bend or spindle anymore.  I can however be mutilated.  By a bus seat.

We stopped in the middle of the night, in the middle of Idaho, in the middle of NOWHERE to pee.  It is a rest stop by the interstate and the temperature is about 12 degrees.  We slip our shoes on and shuffle through the cold to the cement block and stainless steel, warm and inviting facility.  Half asleep we complete said business.

We shuffle back to the bus and as we crawl back into our seats a young man, who finally got to travel with the Varsity, slides up beside the coach.  The coach is a patient man but he is also a former Marine and is a firefighter.  He is tired, facing another 8 hours on the bus and he knows he gets to coach about 200 wrestling matches in the next two days.  The kid says,” Uh coach…I wasn’t feeling very good back there and uh…I couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time and uh…I puked.”  Cricket, cricket, cricket.  The coach suppresses all the questions that I can see he wants to ask .  Many unspoken comments pass behind his squinted eyes.  He slowly and quietly asks, ”You puked?”

The kid nods.

“On the bus?”

The kid nods.

We are a hundred miles from a town of any size, with puke in the aisle of a bus full of parents and wrestlers.  At 2:00 a.m..

A pickup pulls up and two people get out.  They walk to the supply room door and unlock it.  One driver pulls out a roll of paper towels and a garbage bag and the other heads for the fellas who just pulled up.  Five minutes later we are saved!  Green spray cleaner, more paper towels and 10 minutes later we are on the road.  The cleaner really worked ’cause when my kids were little and they barfed, I had to get away real quick or I joined them.  The miracle cleaner left us with no tell-tale odor of half- digested pepperoni pizza and root beer.  However, the poor kid will forever be known in our family as “the pukey kid”.

Pillows are punched and scrunched.  Rolled up coats are wedged between seat backs and the outer wall of the bus.  Fuzzy blankets are pulled up to sleepy faces.  Shoes are slipped off so feet don’t go numb and off the bus goes.  We all sink into a swaying, bumpy slumber with only five or six hours to go until breakfast.

Seemingly, several lifetimes later, we arrive at some small town in south eastern Idaho.  The coach asks if everyone can eat and be back in 45 minutes to an hour.  The parents obediently nod and mutter “sure” and the sleepy teenage boys give a universal blank stare.  No pre-frontal cortex activity going on behind those eyes.

There are several fast food places nearby.  McDonald’s, Burger King, and a restaurant that is about two blocks away seem to be the closest choices.  We don’t bundle up because we are only a half a block or so away.  Captain America, in his warm ups, the spousal unit and I hop off the bus and gasp!  The temperature is single digits.  In 10 seconds we are frozen and walking as fast as we can.  We give up on the restaurant, which is 300 feet farther away.  We vote for the nearest place, Burger King.  We are the only ones that go there.  We are pansies.

Breakfast is …there.  New guy at cash register with the TRAINEE name tag got through the order.  The bathroom had toilet paper and back to the bus.  I think the patience I developed raising a batch of kids got me through.  I was proud I didn’t ask, “Are we there yet?”.

We finally arrive at 1 p.m. the next afternoon.  It has been one long ass night.  We all drag the bags and suitcases from under the bus and stagger into the La Quinta.  Seemingly an hour later we are in the room.  Amazing!  The long, hot shower and bed could not come fast enough.  After a short nap we walk to the Walmart and get Gatorade, bananas and more wrestler food.  Lunch at Wendy’s and a cold walk back in the 13 degree, breezy weather.  I check on the boy and his roommates and having never wrestled I am slightly amazed.  They are flopped across beds, chairs and on floors like puppies in the pet store.  All lean, fit and hungry because they must weigh in at 9 a.m. tomorrow.  They are healthy but all know their own weight to the tenth of a pound.

At 6 feet 5  inches tall and 300 pounds I am happy about two things.  I get to eat steak and margaritas tonight and I have a king sized bed waiting for me instead of a bus seat.  End of Day 1.  Just another parenting adventure!

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