Gratitude is essential, even when perhaps things didn't go the way you wanted them to. Here are the people I'd like to take for the 2020-2021 West Ottawa Wrestling Season.
Thank you for the blood, sweat, and tears you have dedicated to the season. Early morning runs, coupled with staying late to drill technique, all to make sure you perform at your best for the community—a Special shout to the captains that helped us steer the ship during this pandemic season. We could not do this without you.
Our coaching staff is the best out there. Period. Every year, these leaders give up time away from their families and sacrifice sleep to make the team do everything it needs to be the best version of itself. We could not do this without you.
While coaches, parents, and even wrestlers sometimes stepped up to record our stats and every match, by far, the great contributor was Hannah Sarli. Younger sister of Coach Sarli, Hannah has been the lifeblood of our stats program. Without her, we would not be able to keep accurate stats and help us set new records, and aim higher every season. We could not do this without you.
So many of you are on the frontline. Making sure athletes are fed, clothed, and getting enough sleep seldom brings in accolades, but it really should. It was so great to see parents invest not only in their children but the success of all of our wrestlers. There were parents and went above and beyond, like parent rep Beth Nichols ensuring our wrestlers had food and rides to where they needed to go. Or the irreplaceable photography of Jennifer Diel, who made sure that everyone on this team's memories could encapsulate to remember the rest of their lives. She was the window for parents to view their child's success. We could not do this without you.
While we didn't get the chance to fill out the stands like we would have liked to, the fans who could make it were active participants. Whether it was working a store clock at a meet or just cheering as loud as you could, your voices and presence shook our very foundation. We could not do this without you.
Nothing brings me greater joy than having a former athlete volunteer at an event. The "giving back pillar" of pantherstyle wrestling is the hardest to promote but the most rewarding to see executed. We create a legacy of West Ottawa wrestling with every "Like" or "share" on social media and keeps the mission alive and relevant. We could not do this without you.
The apparent thanks here goes to MWA Athletic Director of the Year, Bill Kennedy. His ability to navigate the rules and allow us the freedom to create the program is unparalleled. His commitment to wrestling only aids us as we build. Karen Dykema was another person in the offices that made sure we had what we needed and worked tirelessly on logistics. Partner this with the principals that helped me recruit in the hallways, and we had a staff that looked out for us. We could not have done this without you.
Any teacher that made sure our wrestlers' grades were good took one thing off of our plate. Or Ms. Holmes coming to workout out with us so she could appreciate our hard work. Or all the food donated by Ms. Dewit to make sure we didn't go hungry. The warmth we felt from the staff as we came into wrestle every day was truly remarkable. We could not have done this without you.
Thank you, members, of the media that covered and shared our stories online or in the paper. Thank you to the trainers that made sure our wrestlers were healthy and prepared to go off to battle. And thanks to all the businesses that donated to our program to make sure West Ottawa wrestling had the best season it could. We could not have done this without you.
A special thanks to my wife, Betsy, and our four children. You all make it worth it.