As most of you know, we live in Minnesota in the summer and Utah in the winter. Part of the reason we live in Utah in the winter is because I help out my Dad with his school's wrestling program. I hate the bus rides, and some of the shenanigans the kids pull, but most of the time I enjoy working with the students. I enjoy getting a workout and seeing the young men improve as the season goes along. All told, this was my 6th season helping out with a high school wrestling program and probably my most memorable one. When we bought Clearwater Lodge I asked my parents to come out for part of the summer and help us with the kids. They were gracious enough to come up to Minnesota for two months and played with Ady and Brock while Kasey and I ran around all day trying to figure out what lodge owners are supposed to do. Along with helping with the kids, they also pitched in and worked. My Dad did things like build canoe racks, docks and tons of little fix it jobs. So then when he asked me if I would be willing to help him with his wrestling team I thought I should oblige.
So last year we moved to the Salt Lake valley for the winter and I headed over to Summit Academy High School each afternoon. Summit was a brand new school and of the 16 kids that showed up to practice the first day only one had ever seen a wrestling mat. None had wrestling shoes and I could tell it was going to be a very long season. Usually with any sports program you have some returning upperclassmen that show others the ropes and provide some interior leadership. Well, we had no seniors on the team, one junior, 3 sophomores and 12 freshmen. And let me state this once more, only one had ever seen a wrestling mat in their life. So we started at square one and tried to teach these kids how to wrestle. The school didn't even have a wrestling mat, so we ordered some mats that were more for gymnastics than wrestling and they didn't have the proper mat markings. So upon arriving at our very first wrestling tournament, I took the kids down to the mats and showed them the out of bounds lines and starting lines. Needless to say, we weren't exactly impressive at that first tournament.
By the end of the season we had improved, a few of the kids had one a jv match or two, but nothing to brag about. This year we had more kids show up, got a real wrestling mat and had about half the team even show up the first day with proper footwear. My dad and I sat down one evening after practice that first week and talked about preparing the team to wrestle in varsity tournaments this year. I was thinking how are these kids going to handle wrestling at the varsity level and can we keep them from getting depressed as they get beaten when my dad asked me "how many do you think will qualify for the State Tournament?" My answer was probably two(the two that had transferred in from another school). He said he wanted to make a goal and have the team work for the goal. Then he said he would give them a reward if they got the goal and let them shave his head for a school assembly. We made a list of all the wrestlers that we thought had a remote(extremely remote) chance at qualifying. There were 9 kids on the list. So the next day at practice my dad announced that if 8 kids qualified for the state tournament they could shave his head. We wrestled a few teams, got beat by scores like 63-8 and 69-10. Went to a several tournaments, mostly got pinned in the first round. Then we had a couple of injuries and even lost one senior to bad grades. Well I was thinking that his hair was safe. We kept pushing the kids, and working with them. Even had a couple of team movie nights where we tried to show them an inspirational sports movie. So February rolls around along with region/divisional qualifying and we take 17 kids. One of the more talented wrestlers then gets disqualified before the tournament begins. So now the team enters 16 kids. Two days later, Summit Academy had qualified 10 of the 16 kids for the State Wrestling Tournament! The day before heading off to State, the school had an assembly and here are the results...
The side and back
The front and sides. Ady and I decided that he resembled Professor Ludwig Von Drake.