Blanchard River Buzz

A blog for rabid sports fans in the Findlay Area. Maintained by Findlay Courier sports writer Jamie Baker. The opinions expressed are my own crazed ramblings and not those of my employer the Findlay Publishing Company and its subsidiaries.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Starting wrestling

I love organized sports. Always have, always will. They teach a lot. They build character, promote working well with others when you have teammates and it's great also for very young kids who need to develop social skills.

I remember my first attempt at organized sports. Little League. I lived in Bettsville. I never played baseball and never really got much of a chance to practice because my dad died when I was 5 and my mom's biggest worry was keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table for me and my 2 younger brothers.

Long story short, I got cut from the team. Just to let you know they kept a girl but cut me. When I started playing other sports like football, basketball and wrestling when I left Bettsville and moved to Fostoria I never forgot that day. I think it was always in the back of my mind it made me work that much harder because I didn't want to fail again and I wanted to be the best. It worked because I ended up winning a state championship in wrestling and starting on some pretty good football teams including the team that was Division V state runners-up my freshman year.

But I have a special fondness in my heart for wrestling. Fat or skinny, tall or short there's always a place for you on the team.

I have taken some shots in the past at L-B for not having a wrestling team after talking to several people including some coaches out there I think there is some interest there but someone has to step up and do something. Of course the biggest thing is getting a mat, does anyone have a 42x42 square piece of foam lying around???

Anyway here is a plan for starting a high school wrestling program...please anyone with thoughts or suggestions I'd like some feedback...

Liberty-Benton Wrestling
A Three-Year Plan
First Year
Start the program at the middle school level for seventh and eighth graders. That way they and their parents will have at least a grasp of what the sport is all about and will understand basic moves and an understanding on what it will take to be successful before entering high school. Also start a support organization for parents to help make sure the program gets off the ground properly.

Begin an elementary club wrestling program much like other schools have for children in first through sixth grades. The club will meet once or twice a week with occasional matches set up throughout the year against elementary clubs from Findlay, McComb, Van Buren, Fostoria and St. Wendelin.

Also provide information and support for the wrestlers who may be interested in attending spring wrestling clinics in the Lima or Bowling Green areas and summer camps.

Second Year
Continue to build the middle school program and add a program at the high school level. The first year of the high school program will feature no less than 8 dual or triangular matches (4 or 5 at home) with the remainder of the 20 point schedule made up of a mixture of junior varsity and lower-level varsity tournaments. The emphasis should be placed on entering dual meet or pool tournaments where everyone on the team gets a chance to wrestle.

Third Year
For the high school program, cut the dual and triangular schedule back to 5 matches with the remaining 15 points of the varsity schedule made up of tournaments. Most should be either pool-style or dual meet tournaments. A home dual meet tournament could be added, a round-robin six-team dual meet format with a 9 a.m. start time could be completed on a Saturday or during the holidays by 4 p.m.

If numbers allow, enter three or four junior varsity tournaments in addition to the varsity schedule so all wrestlers get a chance to participate at some level.

Tournaments should be structured with an emphasis on building the program to first be competitive in the area. Each year as the program matures the schedule should become increasingly competitive to begin competing with the top Division III programs in Northwest Ohio like Liberty Center, Delta, Sandusky St. Mary’s and Genoa.

Eventually the goal is to be competitive each year at the district tournament with the top Division III teams in NW Ohio, which is the top area for small-school wrestling in Ohio. The top Division III schools in NW Ohio are on a par and in many cases beat the vast majority of Division I and II schools in NW Ohio.

10 points of emphasis to be stressed at both the middle school and high school level programs:
1. Academics always comes before wrestling.
2. The importance of weight training as well as conditioning in wrestling.
3. The importance of proper nutrition and balanced diet in wrestling.
4. Showing respect toward parents, officials, coaches and other adults.
5. Even though wrestling is primarily an individual sport, putting the best interest of the team ahead of individual needs or goals is key.
6. Instill a work ethic. Make sure each athlete understands that nothing worthwhile comes easy and it has to come through dedication, hard work and a desire to succeed.
7. Goals should be set for the team and each individual athlete. Whether it be qualifying for the state tournament or just winning a match, the goals should be specific to each athlete’s talent level.
8. Establish a code of conduct to be followed by each coach and team member involved with the program.
9. Coaches and wrestlers should do as much to promote the program at school and in the local media. The more exposure the school and program gets the better.
10. Encourage all kids to participate no matter their athletic ability. There is a place in the program for everyone.


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