Why Wrestling Is Important For This Military Family- Simply Sara Strong

Interviewed and written by Rebecca Li

In South Carolina, where Sara and her family is based, wrestling is small but growing. 

Sara is a wife of a marine, wrestling mom, and volunteer coach. She has four children, Tommy, 11 yrs old, Sophia 10 yrs old, Mila 7 yrs old, and Jameson 6 yrs old. 

Growing up, Sara loves to be physically active and sports played a huge role in her life. She was involved in gymnastics, cheer, softball, basketball, and hung out with the wrestling team. Now, she also wants her children to have the chance to experience sports as well. 

Sara dedicates her blog to showcasing the ways that people in her life were able to show strength and impart these motivations for other military families and parents. With the pandemic, mental health awareness is on the rise. She also tackles the topic of mental health, something that is not talked about as often as it should. 

With the permission of her daughter, Sara talks about how secondary PTSD has affected her daughter’s mental health. Thankfully, Sara says that since Sophia has started wrestling, she has been able to gain more confidence and find her own voice

Photo Credit: Sara Perez

“She was a very passive and timid child, like she was very quiet, very shy…so it was very important for me to have her find her voice and be able to stand up for herself”

In wrestling, there is no one else to rely on but yourself, and Sara expressed that Sophia’s confidence has gradually grown and her interest in wrestling has also exponentially increased. She is also grateful for finding a gym with dedicated coaches and other college wrestler volunteers who can be the male figure in Sophia’s life when her dad is out at duty.

Although Sara had been given the opportunity to wrestle during her high school years, she thought that wrestling wasn’t for her since she was a girl. She now is a huge proponent of girls wrestling in her state. South Carolina has not yet sanctioned girls wrestling, yet the people who run these state tournaments are very supportive of it. On the other hand, Sara knows that some of the other girls wrestlers in states like Florida have not experienced the same smooth-sailing experience as her.

“We’re all over, but we’re all together at the same time” 

Sara Perez

As both a parent and a coach, Sara has to have a good line drawn between her coaching and parenting for her children. When her kids feel pain during practices, Sara asks them whether or not they need attention from her as a mom or for her to push them as a coach. 

Furthermore, as a coach for youth sports, she believes that youth wrestlers should not be getting gold medals all the time. A wrestler could go to a local tournament with a small bracket and easily win first place. However, that will not help the youth wrestler to grow. 

Sara believes in the principle that this is the time for her young athletes to lose and learn. When it gets to high school or college, things may be a little different as a win would be necessary for a team or recruitment; before then, this is the time to fail and learn from those losses.  

“You start wrestling up, keep doing it.. Because it doesn’t matter until you are in high school or college. Get those tough matches out of the way and continue to progress. Don’t come home with a gold medal every weekend like a participation trophy. You are signing up for the wrong bracket or the wrong tournament.”  

Sara Perez
Photo Credit: Sara Perez

For example, Sara recounts taking her son to a wrestling tournament in Tennessee, where Tommy went 2 and out. This was a huge shock to him as he usually always comes home with a gold medal every weekend Tommy vowed to work extra hard in the wrestling gym for the next few weeks because of this experience. 

“Welcome to the north, buddy” 

Sara Perez

Read more about Sara’s life as a marine wife and Sophia’s Mental Health story at simplysarastrong.com

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