The Grind: North Forsyth's Tate Bissell
Senior Tate Bissell might be one of the oldest guys in North Forsyth’s wrestling room, but he’s still a kid at heart.
That was certainly true when he first stepped into that room as a freshman and earned a spot on the varsity starting lineup, and even though he was good enough to be there, he was still seen as the baby.
“That lineup is a tough lineup to crack, but he definitely was that pesky little younger brother for sure,” North Forsyth wrestling coach Travis Jarrard said. “He was the kid that just got back from college that wants to sit at the adult table but the parents are still making him sit at the kids’ table on Thanksgiving.”
Three years later, Bissell is now the leader in the room, wrestling at 152 pounds for the Raiders. But even though he’s now taken an important role on the team, that doesn’t mean he’s given up his lighthearted side.
Right before North’s appearance at state duals earlier this month,
Bissell’s mother told him he needed a haircut. He obliged, but on his own
terms, opting to get a mullet to keep at least part of his hair lengthy. He
tried to convince his teammates to do the same – and succeeded.
In the hotel parking lot in Macon the night before the start of the meet, illuminated by cell phone flashlights, Bissell and his teammates did the honors, clippers in hand.
“Hopefully (I'll be remembered as) the coolest kid on the team, the most memorable, most funny kid on the team,” Bissell said. “I try to lighten up the mood on the team whenever I can.”
But despite his funny side, when Bissell gets on the mat, it’s all business. After finishing fifth at state in traditionals last year, he’ll be looking to improve his standing during his last year of high school competition.
“As a wrestler on the mat, he's definitely one of the leaders on this team,” Jarrard said. He's a leader off the mat with a group of only three (seniors); he kind of has to be.
“His maturity has been remarkable to see. I've literally seen the kid grow up before my eyes.”
Before his time being competitive, though, Bissell was wrestling just for fun. He started when he was around 5 years old, and it took some time for him to really begin to enjoy it.
“Probably when I was younger, I didn't like it too much,” Bissell said. “Up until like eighth grade I was really god awful. I would laugh when I was on my back and stuff like that, so I always really had fun with it. Since I've gotten older it's gotten more serious.”
That’s led to constant training in the offseason and during the season, and during his junior season, he began to feel like he shouldn’t be losing to first- and second-year wrestlers. The pressure that comes with those expectations drives him.
“It's kind of nerve-racking but at the same time, I enjoy it,” Bissell said. “I like the pressure on me sometimes. When I lost at state (duals), it was all a mental game. Even though you lose, you've got to be like, ‘Ok, I lost, I'm going to come back stronger and just brush it off.’”
Bissell’s top college choice is Brewton Parker College in South Georgia. Before he heads off, though, he hopes to instill some last lessons – and memories – to the rest of his team, including his younger brother Cale, who is also on North’s varsity roster.
“It's helped us grow together more (as) friends and teammates,” Tate said. “We'll be in the room wrestling and stuff, and it's gotten him tougher, I feel like. Him coming in, I've shown the ropes and it's matured him faster.”