Dear Steve Hartman,
I am scratching my head in wonder as I write this post. Bottom line: How do you do it? Just when I think I've seen and heard every "feel good" story to come out of a high school gym, swimming pool or in this case—from wresting mat—you find new ones. In fact, your work has me questioning the wisdom of the Book of Ecclesiastes. Chapter 1:9 proclaims What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun! Stories like Champion high school wrestler surrenders a match he could have won suggest otherwise. Each profile offers a new story; there is plenty that's new not only under the sun but "On the Road," too.
I would also like to extend my gratitude for sharing stories that portray young people in such a positive light. So many of your subjects are see a bigger picture; they often make choices that are profoundly countercultural. For this very reason, I have found their words and deeds put Christ's teachings to life.
For example, Marek Bush, a sophomore from Central Valley Academy near Utica, New York illustrates vividly what St. Paul meant when he asked his congregation at Corinth to look around and see if they could find among themselves “the wise” and “the strong” of this world. Paul concluded, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor 1:27). Everything about Bush's decision would seem foolish. Though he was the "weaker" opponent in this contest, his choice revealed a different kind of strength. As Richard Clifford writes, "In moments of such “weakness,” when conventional structures fall away, the divine intention becomes visible in unexpected ways." They also reveal how and why Christ was a great teacher.
I encourage you to watch the video for yourself. You will gain a better understanding of St Paul who said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
No wrestler wants to be considered "weak." The sport demands an uncanny strength. This state championship however revealed a new strength. Just look at the crowd's reaction to the choice Bush made, and Logan accepted. The joy is palpable. The moment is worth holding...and sharing.
Please keep doing what you do, Mr. Hartman: seeking and finding new stories of triumph, heart, joy and inspiration. Thanks for letting us in on the lives of people who choose to be different...who show me what winning really is all about.
Oh, and I'll let you know if you ever stop making me cry.
Religious Studies Teacher, St. Ignatius College Prep