The home that holds him together - Indiana Daily Student

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IU wrestling head coach Angel Escobedo and his wife Pauli watched their children running on the grass.

Worry makes him get up at night. He threw it in bed. He walked around the house. Thoughts bounced in his mind.

Angel Escobedo considered his three children: 4-year-old Malachi (Malachi), 3-year-old Saniyah and 1-year-old Zoe (Zoe). He hopes they can go to see pumpkins during Halloween. He wants them to see their cousin on Christmas. But there is a pandemic. He hoped they would not miss it. 

The third grade IU wrestling coach is worried about recruiting suitable athletes to participate in the program. He wants a 2-10 team to return to a position related to the country. His inbox is often flooded with emails and text messages. In September, the program was forced to suspend exercise for two weeks after a positive COVID-19 test.

"It will never stop," Escobedo said.

Escobedo realized that he could not control certain things. He tried to stay by his side and let go of worry. He slides into the airpods while lying in bed, and then opens the Headspace or Calm app on his phone.

Breathe, it told him. Through the nose. Come out through the mouth. 

Family has always been the driving force of Escobedo throughout his life. When his uncle died in a car accident, they were there to serve him. They were by his side when he took off his shoulders in the NCAA tournament. Now, when he leads the team through the pandemic, this is what stabilizes him.

Escobedo often tells his team to "embrace chaos." 

There are inspirational quotes on the blackboard in the locker room every day. Escobedo told the wrestlers that he has the motivation to come in every day because he wants to help them grow into men. He kept telling sophomore Graham Rooks (Graham Rooks) that he would become an all-American. 

Escobedo treats the wrestler as his son.

IU assistant coach Jason Tsirtsis said: "He will do anything for his son." 

In pre-season training this fall, Escobedo woke up at 6:30 in the morning and made coffee. He checked his e-mail. He sorted out the lunch the children used in Turkey, French fries, yogurt and granola bars. He woke up his children. 

One day this fall, Saniyah did not want to go to school. Escobedo told Sarnia that her friends and teachers wanted to see her. After persuading for about 15 minutes, she agreed.

When he grew up, Escobedo saw all the sacrifices his family had made for him, drove to a wrestling match and put food on the table. Now, he wants to do the same for his children. 

Now, before entering school, they have the same conversation.

"Remember that you must be the hardest job," Escobedo said one morning this fall. "What else? Ask questions. What else? Listen to your teacher."

"Never give up," Malachi shouted.

"Knuckles," Escobedo said, reaching for Malachi and Sarnia with his fists. "Love you guys."

He takes them to their classroom every day. Malachi is carrying an Avengers backpack, and Saniyah has a frozen backpack. "DREAMS DO COME TRUE" is written on Saniyah's shirt.

When Escobedo picks them up after school, he always asks them about their days.

"Malachi, do you remember any letters you learned today?" Escobedo said. 

"C," Malachi responded.

"What does C stand for?" Escobedo said.

"Caterpillar," Malachi shouted.

"You say that every day, man," Escobedo said with a smile.

They proceeded through the alphabet. M stands for Malachi. S stands for Saniyah. G is for grandpa 

"E stands for angel," Malachi said.

"Hey, you think this is funny," Escobedo said.

Malachi and Sanya giggled joyfully.

His mother's screams were deeply burned in his memory. 

The coroner knocked on Escobedo's residence late at night. It is not uncommon to see intruders around their house in Gary, Indiana. Sometimes people will try to break in.

At first, no one responded to the knock on the door late at night. Escobedo is not 8 years old. Not his grandparents. Not his mother. Not his cousin.

The noise continued. That was when he heard the scream. It pierced the house. Now, if his wife yelled, Escobedo would go back to that moment.

The noise shocked the young Escobedo, who curled up on the bed. His mother jumped into her grandmother's arms and wept. Everyone cried and they learned that his uncle Eskil would not go home again.

Uncle Escuel went to a bar earlier that evening. One of his friends quarreled and led to a chase. Uncle Esquill's car hit a ditch.

Uncle Escuel lived with Escobedo for a while. When he grew up, Escobedo stayed with his single mother, cousins ​​and uncles in his grandparents' house. There are 14 relatives living in one room. Others live nearby. Escobedo didn't have his own bedroom until he was in high school.

Later that night, a friend who was in the car with Uncle Eskil came to the house. His clothes were cut off and stained with dirt.

"I'm sorry," he kept saying. "I'm very sorry."

"Please forgive me. It's all my fault."

Escobedo's grandmother did not stop crying. His mother rarely speaks. The family stayed in the living room hour after hour, the light illuminating the house from the darkness. They want to know if Uncle Eskil has been in pain. 

Escobedo tried to deal with the meaning of death. He is too young to fully understand it.

, He said to himself.

Uncle Eskil asked the family to invest in Catholicism. Wrestling is also an important part of Uncle Esquiel's life, and he helped introduce it to Escobedo. He drove Escobedo to compete with his five cousins. He would always roughen Escobedo playfully. 

In the weeks after his death, wrestling was not in the family's mind. The family comes to this house every day. They went to the church to attend the funeral. Escobedo and his cousin carried the coffin. Before Uncle Esquel was buried, they dug dirt on the coffin.

Eventually, Escobedo and his cousins ​​started fighting again. They talked about Esquiel before the practice to remind him of his influence.

Eskil’s brother David said last year: “Don’t forget him, but keep going, because that might still be what he wants.”

"Let's move on." 

There is no sofa in Uncle David's living room. There is no coffee table or carpet. There is no TV. Just a black wrestling mat, a small waterfall stretches from one wall to another. The oven glove is wedged between the wall and the mat, so it will not damage the wall.

Posters cut by Uncle David from wrestling magazines are pasted around the room. The picture shows the wrestling action: a fall with one leg, a fall with two legs and a fireman carrying. Each number has a number next to it, indicating how many times it must be completed. 

On Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, Escobedo and his five cousins ​​will be there after school. Before playing outside, they stayed in the wrestling room for a while. 

David trained the group and helped the young wrestler improve various skills in the room. Every action must be done with the left and right feet. If it is not correct, they will do it again. 

"It seems to be eternal," Escobedo said.

David quickly saw the potential of Escobedo. He was fast and smooth. But Escobedo is the youngest in this group and is always selected. 

It is almost a habit for the children to fall into a frenetic carnival when the whole family gathers on holiday. They will start talking about wrestling and be reminded that the older family members will move aside and pick up any valuables with them. 

Then, the children will try to disappoint each other. The picture frame flies. The table bent. The glasses were fired. Escobedo will be hit hard by older girls. 

"They always kick my ass," Escobedo said. 

Wrestling distracted from the streets that took Uncle Esquiel. Soon after Escobedo was born, Gary was called the country's murder leader in the 1990s. Escobedo's grandmother immigrated from Mexico and moved to Indiana after living in Texas.

David said: "Bullets fly everywhere." "When the sun goes down, you must go in." 

Escobedo and his cousins ​​often play hunt (hide and seek). When they tore around the house, a helicopter looking for the actual suspect hovered overhead. A spotlight shone down, winding from the alley to the Escobedo house and the surrounding area. 

If a car comes slowly in the street, the children will shout "Drive by" and then dive into the bushes. When Escobedo was 10 or 11 years old, a woman was hit by a car and killed in front of them.

Escobedo stopped buying new bicycles because they were constantly being stolen. Once, he was gifted to go to the shopping cart. He rode once. 

"It's like heaven," Escobedo said. "That's untrue." 

The next day, it was gone. 

He wanted to find anyone to catch it and fight them. 

They sometimes only eat tortillas and butter for dinner. Fried bologna is also a staple food. But his grandmother made sure that although there was very little food in the kitchen, they would not go to bed hungry. 

In the end, five of his cousins ​​emerged from the environment and all became wrestlers in my division. Meanwhile, Escobedo became one of the best wrestlers in the country, completed high school, became the only four-time state champion in the family, and went to IU to continue his career.

"It's confusing, but that's what I know," Escobedo said. "To me, it's almost like peace."

This year, IU fell into its own chaos. 

The Indians game will start two months later on the evening of January 10. Some of his wrestlers have been struggling with lack of organizational structure, online courses and wrestling. Now they are tested for COVID-19 every six days.

Escobedo said: "Life is hard, without any ease, it will only become harder." "When life becomes very, very difficult, how can I train those who are prepared for it. You must learn how to move on."

Escobedo's shoulder popped out of the socket. He immediately knew something was wrong. In the 125-pound quarter-finals of the 2008 NCAA National Championship, this was twice as much as overtime. Escobedo faced the mat first, rolling painfully.

In the IU freshman season a year ago, he finished fourth. Now, his left shoulder is dislocated and he is three victories away from the national championship.

The coach rushed to the mat and knelt beside Escobedo. In the first minute, his shoulders bounced back into place. The normal recovery time from injury is 12-16 weeks. Later he learned that he had also torn his lips.

Escobedo said: "I must die before I leave this mat."

After the game resumed in the final stage of overtime, Escobedo only took 10 seconds to escape. With his shoulder stuck to one side, he opened the bottle for his body, pressed against the opponent's head, and slid out his hand. He won 1 point, which ensured his victory.

The semi-finals are on the same night. Escobedo was injected with painkillers. He froze his shoulders. He is committed to the range of motion.

The match was wrapped around his left arm with a black support. At the start of the game, the clock fell back to one minute and he trailed 1-0, but Escobedo threw his leg behind his opponent and led him to the mat, winning 4-1.

His worry made him uncomfortable that night. He considered his game plan and shoulders.

"You want to control everything, but in fact you can't control it," Escobedo said.

He weighed in the early morning of the final. Later, Escobedo's mother walked into his hotel room. She told him how proud she was. She prayed that he would do his best. His shoulders will stand up.

The Scottrade Securities Center in St. Louis can accommodate more than 18,000 people. The game is almost full, and the game is broadcast on ESPN. Escobedo did not hear the fans. He is not nervous. He is not worried about his shoulders. 

Escobedo has competed with his cousin all his life. Go back to David's wrestling room. He was beaten back during the holiday. For him, it's no different.

There are more than 30 family members there, including his mother, his cousin and Uncle David.

"Think I should have been there," Escobedo said.

After 30 seconds into the final stage, Escobedo escaped and took a 3-2 lead. With ten seconds left, leading 5-3, all Escobedo has to do is keep his pace. But he saw an opening and squashed the opponent on his back.

Escobedo popped out suddenly and pointed two fingers in the air. He flexed his biceps. He circled the cushion and smashed his chest twice. 

The announcer said: "The angel is in heaven."

As the referee raised his arm in the air, Escobedo pointed at the family in the crowd. To his mother to his cousin. Uncle David. 

In their hands, they gave up their homemade paper angel wings. 

They lifted them to heaven.

If Escobedo does not pick up his child from school, they will patiently wait for him to return home. They rushed to the door as soon as they opened it. 

"Daddy's house," Malachi or Escobedo's wife Pauli shouted.

After a day of work, Escobedo played with his children. In the fall, they watched a pirate show at Nickelodeon. Escobedo took out a piece of white paper and drew a treasure map. He outlines the outline of the sofa and the TV, and draws an X with a dotted line, which hides a toy. They followed the path of winning prizes. Sometimes they got lost and he had to help them.

If Escobedo watched the wrestling, then they were with him. If he has a recruitment call, they will try to knock on the door. When they take a break from school, they will deal with him between two exercises. Malachi has learned wrestling moves from his champion father.

When they all sat down for dinner, Sanya prayed. Malachi begged his father to finish the meal so that they could have more fun.

Pauli said: "He just refused to let his father do something better."

Escobedo and Pauli played a match between Malachi and Saniyah to see who could go to bed fastest. Escobedo reads bedtime stories to their youngest Zoe. One of her favorites is "Dad loves me!" In the story, Escobedo tickles his feet. 

Then Escobedo made bedtime stories for Malachi and Saniyah. Malachi and Saniyah are superheroes, and this is usually an incredibly mysterious story. Their mission is to save the world. One night, Poly made up a story. Malachi said it was not as good as his father's.

Escobedo was with them. Malachi is trapped under the blanket of Spider-Man or Chicago Bear. Saniyah's bed is all pink and it is full of unicorns. Superhero costumes are hanging on the wall. 

Escobedo stayed until they fell asleep.

Escobedo said: "Even when I was young, I remember thinking that if I become a father, I want to be something I don't have." "That is my motivation. When they are together, I will be fully Using their time, when they get old, they will always remember that I was there."

There are still memories of Escobedo when he was young. Malachi has Escobedo's old hot wheels. Photos of Escobedo and grandfather on the wedding day. 

Whenever a family meets in Indiana, Escobedo will work hard to attend. The main screen on Escobedo's phone is him, his children and his wife.

A word is printed on Escobedo's upper chest to make his life more vivid. He saw it when he got dressed in the morning. He saw it when he took a bath at night. When he was wearing a V-neck shirt, his children asked him what it meant.

"I think they forgot," Escobedo said. "So they keep asking."

Then he told them.


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