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Buckmister: What sports means to me

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Zack Buckmister (42) holds the Blue Trophy after Roswell defeated Los Lunas last year for the Class 5A State Championship. (Submitted Photo)

By Zack Buckmister
Special to RDR Sports

My name is Zack Buckmister and I am a senior at Roswell High School this year where I play football and wrestle. My athletic career began in elementary school with baseball then I went into football and in 8th grade and I began wrestling, too. My dad and brother grew up playing football and wrestling and it has been great to have them practice with me, help coach me at times. They understand how I feel when I win and when I lose.

These two sports have required dedication, focus and a lot of hard work to build my skills. Long practices of three to four hours a day during the season. We work hard, plus we have homework and spending time with my family and friends takes up my days and weekends.

The hard work is worth it when our football team wins. Our team has put in the work in practice, and we look forward to the next week and facing another team. Football has taught me that we win and lose as a team. Wrestling is more independent and because of that, it makes me be the best that I can be. In wrestling, if I lose, I have total responsibility in that loss; there is no one to blame except myself.

On the wrestling mat, I am by myself. As the fans are yelling and screaming, telling me what to do, at the end of the day I make the final decision on what to do. Should I listen to them, the people I care about the most and who have done this before and know the way, or should I use my instincts and trust my own judgment and use what I have learned? Wrestling absolutely pushes me to dig deep and find mental toughness. It lets me see where I stand in the state of New Mexico.

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Football is the ultimate team sport, it takes a village to become a two-time state champion. Everyone does their part from coaches, players, Roswell High School Band, parents, fans and managers. It empowers everyone in our great city. I will carry these memories with me for the rest of my life. There is a reason why Goddard High School and RHS football always comes down to the wire, both teams have heart and the rivalry brings us all together in the end.

Playing sports requires that I keep my grades up or I can’t participate. Our coach, Jeff Lynn requires us to wear our football jersey on the first day of class. That way our teachers know they can talk to our coach if he needs to step in and get involved. Coach Lynn pulls our grades every Tuesday and posts them to our website for players and parents to see. If we are not keeping up, then everyone knows that, as well. Learning to keep up on my work helps keep down the pressure of always catching up. Classes are like sports, I have to work hard at both to win and go to the next level.

My coaches are a big part of my sports life. They’re like big brothers who yell a lot, but they are always trying to make me the best that I can be. I have learned to follow directions or do it again. It’s no fun to have to do the same hard work over and over until it’s right, so I’ve learned to do my best, follow directions, think fast and get directions right as quickly as possible. I’ve learned that my coaches do see a bigger picture, and know what is best for me and that’s why they push me every day to get better. Their guidance, knowledge and dedication to their athletes and the school have made my athletic experience great.

I have had the opportunity to go to the Oklahoma State Wrestling Camp where I had national competition and learned techniques to bring back to teach other wrestlers on my wrestling team. It was a great experience to be coached by Olympic winner John Smith. The last day of the camp, I had to run 10 miles to earn a camp T-shirt.

After 10 days of intense wrestling, then to run 10 miles — it was the toughest T-shirt I’ve ever earned! It all comes down to work ethics — how hard are you willing to work to meet your goals and challenges, in both education and athletics? I feel like no matter how big and how good the opponent, I will outwork him. I promise.

Sports has helped me be involved with the community through the RHS football summer camps for youth, Roswell Youth Football League and Roswell Invasion Youth Wrestling.

I love winning! It means that I have accomplished my goal, as well as our team goal. I have been on the losing end many times and I’ve had to learn how to handle defeat with class. I still learn every time. I do my best to see a defeat as a chance to learn, review my mistakes and get better.

Athletics is discipline, hard work and learning to accept criticism, learning to push myself and be pushed by others, how to juggle all parts of my life, learning to lose with grace (it’s not easy), building character and giving respect.

I’m not the only one missing sports. I miss working out and pushing myself, my coaches and my friends. I miss looking forward to Friday night lights and playing in front of family and friends — my community. Right now, with all that is going on with the virus and the country, we need to unite as one and what better way than being able to go see your local high school football team? For two hours, everyone can forget about everything and just have fun.

Please give me and all the other athletes a chance. We want an opportunity to move to the next level and a chance to earn a scholarship. This, in some cases, may be the only way for athletes to get a college education.

So what have I learned from my experiences with athletics? It is much sweeter when you earn it!