West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

. . . on Club vs. School Wrestling Programs

Club wrestling programs versus school wrestling programs has recently become a concern to yours truly.

To my way of thinking the mission of private wrestling club programs should be to supplement the middle school and senior high mat sport programs. This came to my attention while talking to a student at our school. Here's what transpired.

During lunch duty, this seventh grader told me he was wrestling. Having officiated a match at the middle school the previous evening, I said, "Why didn't you wrestle last night?"

He responded, "Oh, I don't wrestle for the school; I belong to a club team that practices two nights a week."

I suggested he compete on the school team as well, especially since the squad was lacking grapplers at certain weight classes. But he said, "I prefer competing for the club team, only."

After this conversation, I decided to contact Abby Rush, a former Greater Wheeling Smallfry League Commissioner and well-respected club wrestling coach. He has done much to promote the mat sport in the area. My objective was to learn what Abby thought about this subject. Below are my "to-the-point" questions and his responses.

Mat Thoughts: "Abby, what do you feel is the primary mission of private wrestling clubs in reference to their participants?"

Mr. Rush: "Bill, I believe that the mission of truly sound wrestling club programs is two-fold in nature. First, program leaders must teach each participant the basics of wrestling, make the sport fun for the youngsters, and promote good sportsmanship at all times. Secondly, club wrestling programs should function as a means toward the end of developing competitive middle and high school wrestlers."

Mat Thoughts: "Abby, what is your personal goal for the club members on your wrestling team?"

Mr. Rush: "To be quite honest, I just want all of our wrestling club members to enjoy the sport of wrestling. But of course, it would be great to witness a few of them winning a state high school championship."

Abby Rush, a former Pennsylvania state tournament third-place finisher himself, represents the best in club wrestling programs. He visualizes beyond the "now" in coaching kids on the mats. If there was one wish Abby Rush could have being fulfilled, it would be that he had some small role in producing future successful college wrestlers, who graduated. That would make his "journey" as a club wrestling coach more than worth the effort.

"If you stop struggling, then you stop life."
-- Howard Newton

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