West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Conducting a Successful Youth Tournament

I believe that if youth tournament directors were able to pick the two areas that create the most headaches for them, the majority would respond by saying:

1. The seeding of the wrestlers.
2. The complaints regarding the officials.

In reality, I truly think that smallfry tournament directors will always have problems with "seeding," and for one very significant reason. Because these pee-wee matmen come from all areas (locally and far away), tournament managers often do not have "common opponents" by which to compare one exceptional wrestler from another, within their respective weight classes. Thus, your best bet is to follow the three guidelines below in mind:

1. Schedule an appropriate seeding meeting in which all coaches have the opportunity to attend.
2. To the best of your ability, separate what you sincerely believe to be the top four wrestlers.
3. When possible, avoid first round matches with members of the same club.
4. And finally, if not needed, don't have team championship tournaments. They will only give you more "migraines" as the tournament director.

In recent years, smallfry wrestling tournaments have grown like wildfire, and have become much more competitive throughout the state of West Virginia. Furthermore, the sponsoring organizations are making sizable "profits" from these endeavors, with entry fees, admissions, and concession stand proceeds.

Since youth wrestling enthusiasts are willing to invest so much personal time and money to these weekend athletic adventures, they expect to see qualified officials. Such is not always the case. If you are sincere about directing a first-class, smallfry wrestling competition, then every effort must be made to acquire the best officials available. They may cost a little more, but in the long run experienced referees will save you a lot of hassles, both from the coaches and the parents of these pee-wee competitors.

Now consider the following true story. I remember one tournament organizer telling a disgruntled coach that hiring registered officials would have cost too much money. Thus, he used local high school wrestlers to officiate the matches. They were making inconsistent calls, not in line with the rules. Now note, this same tourney director spent approximately $2000.00 for extravagant awards.

To make my point, less than half of the above figure would have been more than enough for trophies, with sufficient monies left over to hire competent officials.

Keep in mind, many of these young wrestlers actually devote hour upon hour to training and are quite good. Likewise, their coaches and parents anticipate the same quality from tournament referees. So, I strongly advice all youth wrestling tournament directors to save yourselves undue problems--hire highly qualified officials!

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