Special Report: Challenges for Wrestling in Northland Pt. 3
Future of Wrestling in The Northland
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It’s no question that starting a wrestling program can be a struggle in The Northland. But the future looks very bright for the sport.
“It’s coming. And I don’t think there’s nothing that can stop it. It’s going to be the future. It’s going to be here and i think wrestling is going to stay,” said Proctor wrestling coach Dave Mcnamee.
It’s been a long, uphill battle for wrestling programs in The Northland but the future is very promising.
“This year we’re up to 60 kids in the Duluth, Superior, Cloquet, Hermantown, Proctor area. We got kids from all over Two Harbors coming down. It’s really starting to take off, people are starting to take notice and a lot of kids are enjoying it,” Two Harbors youth wrestling coach Eric McPhee said.
The number of kids enjoying the sport continues to grow every year.
“They started out with 24 kids, now they’re looking at 120 kids, kindergarten up through sixth grade in both Coquet and Esko so it’s grown to that much,” said Cloquet wrestling coach Al Denman.
And with the increasing numbers comes better facilities and more action.
“Seven years ago when North Shore came here to the Duluth area and started a program, we were wrestling on a stage. Now we’ve got a place, a gym over at Bayview where the kids are wrestling,” said Mcnamee. “We didn’t have a home tournament three years ago and we got that going. It’s growing and it’s getting a foothold.”
A major contributor to wrestling gaining a foothold in The Northland is its inclusive nature.
“It’s a great sport for people of all sizes. It takes a kid from one hundred and six pounds in high school up to two hundred and eighty five pounds and can fit anywhere within that range and we take everybody,” said McPhee.
“The great thing about wrestling is that it doesn’t matter if you’re missing a leg or two legs, or your missing an arm or your blind or your deaf, the mat doesn’t care. Everybody can wrestle,” Mcnamee said.
And while other sports can cost an arm and a leg to play, wrestling won’t pin you down with expensive gear.
“Wrestling is a very low budget sport. Doesn’t require a lot of equipment. Doesn’t require a lot of resources, so it that aspect, it’s a pretty low budget opportunity for students to participate in athletics,” Denman said.
Not only does wrestling benefit the wallet, but also athletic skills to play other sports.
“We’ve got our football coaches that see what the benefit of having kids that wrestle and play football is,” Mcnamee said. “It’s going to build your footwork, you’re going to be able to push people around. You’re going to learn balance, you’re going to learn coordination and agility. You’re going to learn those things.”
And while the process of building a program is not quick, the future has a great outlook.
“With the youth numbers the area clubs have. I think it’s looking really good and we’re just going to have to continue to build on it,” said McPhee. “It’s going to be a long term process but I think the future looks bright.”
A bright future led by good coaches and enthusiastic youth.
“There’s the future, and the future looks pretty darn good. So I really think we’re going to see wrestling start to take off in this area once we get that foothold established,” Mcnamee said.
It’s only a matter of time before wrestling takes down any existing barriers and pins down the interest and passion of The Northland.