By Molly HaydenAugust 20, 2010
While most equate wrestling with Monday night on the WWF, the sport is gaining momentum within the elementary and high school sectors.
More than 70 students, representing Department of Defense Dependents Schools from around Europe traveled to Vilseck High School in Vilseck, Germany, recently to attend a weeklong wrestling camp.
Numerous wrestling coaches and athletic directors facilitated the event including Ron Higdon, associate head coach of wrestling from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Higdon, along with this wife Sandi, traveled 5,000 miles to share the fundamentals of success both on and off the mat.
"It starts with the basics," said Higdon. "To be a good wrestler you have to have self-discipline. Those characteristics learned on the mat will prove essential in life as well."
While Higdon drilled the students on performance and wrestling techniques, Sandi explained the importance of education and future planning.
"It's important for the kids to know they have to do well academically in order to succeed athletically," said Sandi. "They go hand in hand."
For the participants, ages 7 to 18, the camp was an eye-opening experience.
"I'm learning a lot about mental toughness on top of the techniques," said 18-year-old Dan Lengyel, from Casteau, Belgium. "It's all about proving yourself."
Sixteen-year-old Aaron Hogg from Vicenza, Italy, agreed.
It's an individual sport," said Hogg. "You are on your own and with each match you build confidence."
During the daily demonstrations wrestlers attempted to gain physical advantage over their opponent while they practiced holds and pins.
Coordination and balance were interrelated as each wrestler used a series of grappling techniques mixed with lifts, trips, drags and pushes learned to pull their opponent to the mat with control.
The sport is a great way to get a cardio workout, strengthen muscles and learn to pin down annoying siblings with ease.
Using one's own momentum along with an opponent's momentum, however, is important in any takedown, according to 7-year-old Kaleb Burgess.
"You just have to pin them on the mat," said Burgess. "It doesn't matter if they are bigger than you, you can still do it."
The camp was designed for wrestlers at every experience level and participants were grouped based on experience and size, which allowed them to learn at their own pace.
Additionally, the course enabled every athlete to use the newly honed skills to their maximum capability, becoming equals with their opponent.
"It's one-on-one out there and you can only count on yourself, push yourself," said Vilseck High School Principal Duane Werner. "Whether it's on the mat or in life, you get out what you put in."