Mayson Munson knows the meaning of hard work like few seventh-graders do. And he goes about that work like someone driven by a dream he knows he can catch, if he puts in the time and effort.
Grit to Spare
He started wrestling at the tender age of six, and he wrestles not only for Shepherd Middle School, but also for a club in Bolingbrook. That means double the practices and double the tournaments, but rather than being worn down by the grueling schedule, Mayson thrives on it. He says that wrestling’s appeal to him is, “probably the grit and hard work that it takes to do it.”
To Mayson, ‘grit’ means, “You just keep going, and you never stop, and you work as hard as you can.” The other attraction that wrestling holds for him is its focus on individual performance. Football, for example, is a team effort. You can excel at your position, making no mistakes for an entire game, but still come out on the losing side. But, in wrestling, “It’s all up to you, if you win or lose,” Mayson explains. These two ideas neatly sum up the beginning of a philosophy of life for young Mayson – Work hard, never stop trying, always do your best. Because, in the end, the one responsible for your success or failure is you. That philosophy has taken him to the very top of his game; he is the 2022 IESA State Champion in the 70-pound weight class.
But, despite his success on the mat and obvious love for the sport of wrestling, Mayson actually describes football as his “first love.” His goal is to play in the NFL for his favorite team, the Buffalo Bills. “I think if I work hard enough, […] I will make it to the NFL,” he says. But, if for some reason that doesn’t work out, he has a plan to become a physical therapist.
When he’s not practicing or competing, Mayson likes to do what most kids his age do – spend time with friends. When they get together, they are usually playing football, unless the weather is bad. Then, they can be found inside, playing video games. Or “we might wrestle a little bit,” he says with a sly smile. His success on the mat belies the fact that he is a little small for his age. This size advantage can make his friends more agreeable to wrestling Mayson. “And then I beat them, and they’re shocked,” he says with a grin.
When the question of what he would do with a magic wand with unlimited in scope or capability came up, he thought long and hard before deciding that he would like to be able to help his dad start a business by contributing the funding. It’s the least he could do, he says, given the fact that his parents have been so supportive of him. “My dad’s always been by my side for my whole sports career. He’s come to all the practices, all the games,” Mayson recalls.
That may be the least he could do, but Mayson is not a young man for whom the least is enough. His hard work and perseverance – his grit – will no doubt lead him to greater and greater achievements in the years to come.