TRURO – Watching his fighters enter the cage, Micky Marshall gets a mixed sense of feelings.
On one hand, he’s excited to see his students put to use the skills he’s been teaching them for years. On the other, he feels their emotions – their nerves, anxiety and fear.
On Saturday night in Halifax, Marshall got the chance to experience that feeling again. Four of his Marmac Mixed Martial Arts Club fighters stepped into the cage for an Extreme Cage Combat card – including Millbrook’s Cody Gloade, the youngest of the bunch, who made his MMA amateur debut.
“I always get a lot of nerves before a big fight,” said Gloade, who has previously competed in kickboxing and jujitsu bouts. “When the bell rang, and I was in the cage, I didn’t feel anything. I just couldn’t believe that this was finally happening. I’d been waiting so long.”
At the end of a trio of three-minute rounds, the close bout went to a decision. Gloade’s hand was not raised.
“I wanted it more than anything. I knew at the end that I didn’t win,” Gloade said. “Still today I’m disappointed about losing, but I have to take it as it is and chalk it up to a learning experience.”
As he watched his 19-year-old fighter walk into the cage, Marshall could feel his fear even when Gloade went numb with excitement. Gloade is no regular kid though, Marshall said. It wasn’t the kind of fear a regular person would feel before a fight.
“As a coach, I’m never worried about him getting hurt,” Marshall said. “I’m worried about him thinking he let me down.”
The two have developed a close bond since the 15-year-old Gloade walked into his gym four years ago. Having seen a fight on TV, Gloade became enticed with the idea of the sport, and sought out Marshall’s help. Since then, the two have built up a close bond.
“I wouldn’t call him ‘like a son,’” Marshall laughed as he made a sideways glance at the kid. “But he’s definitely like a little brother to me, for sure.”
Another of Marshall’s younger cohorts, Pat Carroll, made his professional debut on the card. Carroll was more successful, making his opponent submit during a barrage of strikes while on the mat.
In Carroll, Marshall sees Gloade’s future – a “competitor” more than a fighter, who is free of the fear of disappointment.
“That was the first time I’ve seen that in Pat,” Marshall said. “With Cody, I know his emotions affected him and that was a difference in the fight.”
Letting go of those emotions marks the end of a coach’s journey, and the beginning of a new learning experience for the competitor – much like a parent sending a child off into adulthood.
“There’s a time in everyone’s life when they still need you, but they don’t need that side of you anymore.”
That day is fast approaching for Gloade, but for now he has the sting of a loss in his first amateur fight to show for it.
“After a loss you can say whatever you want to a person to make them feel better, but they’ll never really hear it,” he said, turning to Gloade. “But you’ll never disappoint me.”
Also on the card were two of Marmac’s most experienced competitors, Truro’s Daniel Vanderlans, who also lost a narrow decision, and Harmony’s Scott Nauss, who won via decision.