Collier Schorr


I have been photographing this team for four years. At the end of each practice, I make a series of team portraits. Normally, I go from one end of the group to another and then back. That way I capture different expressions and postures. Wrestling teams are like Noah's Arks—there are two of every weight class. Every guy has his physical mirror to play against. Chris Fredericks (third row, third from the right, in profile) is in my weight class. I wrestled him on this day for about a minute. He said I was stronger than he thought, but I still couldn't move him. He's 15. This picture was taken after I finished photographing the team. At the beginning they were surprised that I wanted to take more than one picture, as if one day of crashing bodies told the entire story. Now they know I am looking for something, like an opponent looking for an opening. You can tell this was a freestyle practice because the guys look less hungry. The wrestlers own their bodies during freestyle season, when they compete as individuals rather than as a school team. A week after regular season ends they begin to grow. They gain weight. A year's worth, in a few days. They also gain inches. Twin bodies shift, practice partners change, guys graduate, new kids come in, always seemingly in pairs. By next year, Chris won't be 135. I will have photographed him at 125, 130. And you can tell it's after practice because their shirts are off. They have just completed a course of training that may involve climbing ropes, running with 25-pound bags, wiping the floor with one another. It is easy to get romantic in what feels like 100-degree heat. This is a generous moment. They stand still as long as I need them to. Wrestlers are very disciplined, very attuned to the actions of others.