Moving mats can be dicey situation - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Ahwatukee Sports

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Moving mats can be dicey situation

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Jason P. Skoda is the sports writer at the Ahwatukee Foothills News. Contact him at (480) 898-7915 or

Posted: Friday, January 13, 2012 11:01 am

As I get ready to head down to Tucson for the Flowing Wells Invitational this weekend, I was thinking about the set up that goes along with it.

When I was in high school, my team hosted a holiday wrestling tournament for 30-some years so while the tournament itself was only two days for everyone else it was a full four days for us. We had to set up and break down all of the mats.

Taking the wrestling mats from the practice room to the main gym was such a project and the coaches took advantage of it by using it as a team bonding experience.

They essentially told us how the mats were to be set up, went to the coaches' office and let us take care of it.

What an unmitigated disaster.

It's amazing that we had enough healthy bodies to put a full lineup out there because we did not fare well. We yelled, made obscene gestures, darn near strangled each other and picked sides.

Good times, good times.

For those that don't know wrestling mats usually come in three pieces and each one probably weighs close to 600 pounds.

We had to set up five mats so we were squeezing these things through doors of the auxiliary gym - the most painful part because someone always got their hand smashed - hauled them down the hallway and through another set of doors into the gym.

Somewhere in between that journey there should have been a padded room or anger management class.

Ultimately getting through the door is when most of the drama happened. Everyone had their own ideas. Everyone pushed at different times. Rarely did we get through a doorway without someone taking a shot, verbally or physically, at each other.

If we were being tested we would have flunked and if it was happening today the footage would've ended up on a reality show somewhere.

I don't remember how long the process actually took but it could have been done so much more efficiently. The varsity, which I was lucky to be on all four years, usually had the privilege of using the rack on wheels to move a section.

The junior varsity and freshmen usually picked them up and locked hands underneath and took on the brunt of the weight themselves. Not too bad for the upper weights, but for 98 pounders, as I was, your only goal was not to get crushed at some point during the process.

Ultimately, a mat would drop because someone couldn't hold the grip with their partner any longer.

You would have thought they dropped a baby on its head or let a $1,000 bill fly out the window. It was bedlam and they would get berated by everyone else in his group and the group behind them was even more angry because they had to stop and hold the weight of the mat even longer.

Then once you we got each piece in the proper place we had to tape them down, mop them with a bleach mixture and set up chairs and tables.

Looking back it was a great test of our cohesiveness.

Our head coach was a psychology teacher. He did it on purpose and it was successful in that we eventually accomplished something together - despite the hallway rage.

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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