Senior Year High School Wrestling (the tied together shoelaces)

20110529-085857.jpgMy senior year of high school I wrestled at 112 pounds. I started the year at 123 but I never weighed that much so I dieted down to 112 to wrestle at a lighter weight class. The goal is to get down to a lower weight but not lose too much of your strength. I was a 98 pounder my freshman, sophomore AND junior years. I finally started to grow my senior year. I even got hair under my arms (thank God) and my voice changed! Wrestling was a brutal sport and the workouts were hard as hell. The practice room was heated so we'd lose extra pounds. I was always getting in trouble from Coach Renfo for goofing off. I remember one time I kept acting like I was tripping as we ran around the mat and I got warned that if there were any more shenanigans from me that he would end practice and kick us all out of the gym for the day. Somehow as we sat there while he yelled at us and me in particular, my shoelaces got tied together. I don't know how this happened. Perhaps Victor Mendoza, Freddy Hernandez, Orlando Buduan or Keith Sendejas did it. I still don't know. All I know is that after he was done yelling, he told us to stand up and start running again. I stood up and had no clue that my laces had been tied. I took one step and fell right on top of Coach Renfro's feet. My sweaty chin banged right into his shins and I slammed down on the mat with a huge thud. I instantly started laughing hysterically out of nervousness. "You think that's funny Poltz?" he yelled. "No, coach I don't!" I said as I kept laughing even harder. "Well guess what? Practice is canceled. You think I do this for my health? I don't need this crap. Hey Steve why don't you go laugh after I make you stay and run ten miles? Everyone else go home. You can thank Mr Poltz for ruining this practice." "Is my Dad here?" I stupidly said. "How did he ruin practice?" Coach Renfro just shook his head. Our heavyweight Mark Dobbins came up to me and said "You're an idiot" which is a phrase I've heard repeated many times since.

I ran my ten miles with a smile on my face of bemusement and wonder until the pain of the long run set in. Then I smiled even bigger as I kept replaying the tied together shoelaces incident. To this day I still don't know who tied them together. Maybe God did it because she needed a laugh. Maybe it was just a freak accident. Those wrestling days were really fun and arduous. The room stunk like moldy sweat and we hung together like the outcasts that we were. All different weights and shapes and sizes and races. We were a team doing what basically boils down to an individual sport. You vs the other guy while everyone watches. I'd be nervous all week waiting for the next match against a rival high school. I'd practice my classical guitar alone in my room and picture different wrestling moves and situations while the beautiful etudes of Fernando Sor rolled off my fingers onto the fretboard. Gorgeous melodies written so long ago. If I close my eyes and listen I can still hear them.

Tonight and tomorrow Sunday and Monday I'm in Oakville, Ontario at The Moonshine Cafe. 8pm Wednesday night I'm inToronto at Hugh's Room