No matter how much we try, things never stay the same.
One facet of Hagerstown life which seems to remain a constant made its annual appearance over the weekend. It’s known as the Hub Cup, a wrestling tournament at North Hagerstown.
But as much as the tournament tries to stay the same, it is much different than it was when it began in 1988. After 25 years, you could say this annual competition has gone from tradition and changed to an institution.
By definition, that doesn’t seem like much. A tradition is anything handed down and honored through a generation, cherished without any writing instructions. An institution is nothing more than a tradition that has been accepted as a continuous habit.
The Hub Cup has made that transition. It has taken on a life of its own.
In its 25th year, the tournament celebrated by coming out in its largest, most competitive form as a record 20 schools threw their singlets on to compete for the title.
It was an idea that started as a clambake between eight teams and turned into a takedown convention with more than 750 matches on four mats over two days.
If you have never been to one, the Cup has an atmosphere that is tough to classify.
Sure, it is an athletic event, but it has the feel of a state fair, an auto auction, the harvest festival du jour and rodeo all rolled into one.
There were more fans crammed into North Hagerstown’s gym on Friday than almost any other sporting event you will see in this county nowadays.
In the down times, the crowd had the buzz of a bingo parlor as fans talked among themselves waiting for the action featuring one of their favorites to begin.
Once the tournament started rocking, things really got rolling.
Fans, all wearing their school colors proudly, were at the edge of their seats. Many noshed on overflowing scoops of ice cream while watching their wrestler’s opponents receiving their just desserts.
The action was fast and furious … and that was just in the stands.
Parents with video equipment and cameras along with classmates and teammates took turns rushing to the edges of the mats just to yell bits of instruction and encouragement to their warriors of choice as they competed. The other side of the mat looked like a team picture as coaches sat in the center of the rest of the team as they gathered to back their teammates.
Other wrestling fans walked up and down the sidelines, trying to gain favorable positions in front of some of the more hotly contested matches.
On the mats, it was everything as expected.
Many area stars — and some surprises — shined with thrilling performances. Like bulls in a ring, the wrestlers battled for that final favorable Ole!, which allowed them to advance closer to individual titles and higher point totals for the coveted trophy.
Wrestling matches normally have a frenzied edge to them, but tournaments like the Hub Cup just heighten the feeling with an adrenaline overload.
That adrenaline is the energy drink that makes the Hub Cup successful.
It promotes an excitement and a level of competition that draws fans, thrills crowds and offers center-stage experience for wrestlers prepping for a shot at a statechampionship.
It’s a hard combination to beat.
North Hagerstown’s wrestlers and followers don team shirts with the following quotation by Ralph Waldo Emerson written across their backs:
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.”
I’m not sure how much the famous poet knew about wrestling, but his words apply well to North Hagerstown’s tournament.
The ability to take whatever shortcomings one has experienced and use it to grow and improve while coming back enhances the success of this long-lasting tournament.
It’s one of many ways to become a tradition, let alone an institution.
Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.