Why Continued Education is Mandatory for Coaches in Today's Climate

photo by michael vayan

photo by michael vayan

Over the past twenty years, college wrestling programs across the US have been drastically cut. An unforeseen result of the loss of these programs was the loss of growth in the new coaches arena. As programs are beginning to expand once again, and exponentially in the women's sector, there is a shortage of wrestling coaches available for these opportunities. Enter the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA). Their goal is to ensure opportunities in wrestling for future generations by bringing the wrestling community together. Through their leadership academy, they have developed coaching and training opportunities for both male and female coaches. The ever growing responsibilities of a modern day wrestling coach has created a need for the tools provided by the NWCA. Here are a few reasons this kind of opportunity is essential:  

Why it's important

The engagement and importance of a "CEO" style coach is becoming necessary in today's college programs. However, not everyone innately possess these skills. Most learn from mentors or from external resources, which teach them how to become the best all around coach they can. Learning through resources on your own is time consuming, and not everyone may have the means to contact the right mentor. It is essential to take advantage of workshop-like opportunities to further a coach's arsenal of capabilities. 

Program essentials

The need for a program to be successful has been redefined. No longer can your athletes only be equipped with good technique and a school uniform to sufficiently compete. Today, in order to sustain a program, a coach must be supported by fundraising, travel, equipment, and proper training volumes and phases for peaking and tapering. What is required for a coach today is a completely different animal from the coach of 20 years ago. Without empowering yourself to expand your knowledge and ability to maintain a program, it will be difficult to pass those skills along to your athletes. Just like the skills and capabilities needed to be successful in the work force of today, so have the skills for a coach expanded. 

Shortage of coaches

The sport for women is growing faster than we have coaches available take up programs and positions. This starts at the increasing number of college programs, and trickles down to the needs at the youth levels. This means it is imperative for both men and women to continue their coaches education in order to meet the demand. Creating a highly educated group of coaches will create high level social, leadership, management, adaptability, and wrestling skills being taught to elementary age kids through college. 

2016 NWCA Leadership academy for women's programs

2016 NWCA Leadership academy for women's programs

You're not sure how to get back into coaching

Sometimes we don't even know where to start. Getting back into the coaching world can be intimidating, especially if the coaching in your area is very established. There is always a need for extra support when it comes to creating opportunities for kids. You don't need to be searching for a college position in order to support the growth of the sport. It is not uncommon for a head coach to become stretched thin, especially if they have multiple age or gender groups they must accommodate. Make yourself available. The more coaching education background and experience you can provide, the more you can market your skills. There are always needs for specific technique areas, getting kids to competitions, and fundraising management. There is easily a hole that will need to be filled with your expertise. From there, the more support you can create for a program, the more experience you will gain and be an asset as an assistant coach or head coach in the future. We forget that most people who are "on top," (i.e. head coach at a college or university) started with being a volunteer in the room in whatever capacity was needed. 

Increase your confidence

Not everyone finishes their competitive career and immediately feels like they can be a confident coach. Not everyone who decides to coach wrestling has had wrestling experience themselves. Many amazing youth wrestling coaches may have never competed a day themselves, but have been successful due to their ability to bring a team and resources together to create a successful program. This is due to their ability to recognize key attributes needed in a coach, and to capitalize on their own strengths. Arm yourself with skills through a well thought out program. Sarah Bollinger attended the coaches academy in 2016 when she first started coaching. Attending the seminars helped her lay a path for success:

 
"I was able to learn a lot from (attending) the different seminars and the online modules. After that, NWCA has always looked out for me, and with the help of Mike Moyer, I just took a head coaching position at a new program! They have continually supported me every step of the way. I’m happy I was able to attend the Women’s Leadership Academy."
-Sarah Bollinger, Head Women's Coach Southwestern College
 

Know where you stand

Do you know what your strengths are? Your weaknesses are? Why you haven't gone back into the wrestling room to begin coaching? Why are you not as confident in the room around the athletes/parents/other coaches as you could be? Especially if you are looking to accommodate the needs of a specific age group, the NWCA resources will help you learn how to do just that. 

Academy details

The NWCA leadership program was developed by Dr. Dan Gould of Michigan State University and will will be held July 31st through August 2nd. By applying, you have the opportunity to receive a full scholarship to attend the program. If you are a coach looking to further your career as an assistant or head coach of a college program, there are always skills to add to your resume! Along with these college-specific coaching academies, the NWCA has resources for any level coach.

Are you convinced this is right for you? Then get going on that application!

 

 

 

Why Men's Wrestling Gear Doesn't Cut it for Women

This blog is in partnership with MyHouseSports

I want to be open and candid about wrestling partnerships. First, if we don't work together to build a community of businesses that provide wrestlers what they need, then it makes it difficult for people to create a living around the sport and then in turn give back to the sport what it needs. Second, I am thoroughly impressed by what MyHouseSports Gear has created, and the gear they are providing for girls in our sport. I did not have this while I was wrestling, and it is still limited as to what is provided for us. 

I still own my first wrestling t-shirt that was bought for me as an elementary school wrestler. Even though the graphic of the wrestlers on the tee is rather weird, at the time I didn't care. There were women on it, and it was something made for me! Since that time, I have been extremely passionate about gear for women in wrestling. Throughout college I pushed and helped get women's cut clothing for our team. On the national team, I worked on the fit and feel of women's cut singlets for my wrestling club the New York Athletic Club. Today, I am passionate about helping girls find sports bras, shorts, and practice gear that fits their bodies and helps performance. 

But why all the trouble? Not only are there barriers to entry for girls in the sport of wrestling, but the last thing we want to have happen is a wardrobe malfunction. Baggy men's shorts, t-shirts that don't fit our bodies, and less-than-supportive sports bras are a recipe for disaster in a wrestling room –– especially if you are the only female in the room. 

This is why I am partnering with and bringing you to a company who has taken the time to make sure the gear fits well and performs well on female athletes at different sizes. I was so impressed when they discussed the different methods they used ensuring that their singlets fit girls and women at different sizes and how they had to adjust the neck line so girls could get the singlet up over their hips. Now that's what I'm talking about, a company that understands we have hips! I know many of you have and are still wearing boys singlets. How frustrating is it when your teammates are confused as to why you are complaining about the fit? It may be obvious to us, but not as obvious to the opposite gender that boys gear just doesn't cut it anymore. And it shouldn't! 


MHS is offering LuchaFIT readers an exclusive 10% off* on products when you order with the code LUCHA. Here are my favorite products from MHS right now and why I love it:

*note: coupon code does not work on sale items, custom team gear, or team stores


Leggings

These take the cake. It is rare that I practice in shorts anymore. I am drawn to workout gear that covers more surface area (preventing mat burn, skin infections, and just all around comfort). I am a stickler about the see-through factor, as leggings are a no go if you can tell the color of what you are wearing underneath, and these create the ability for you to wear whatever you want underneath! Waist band is next in my book. With out a secure waist band, the fit around your legs means nothing. With a thicker waist band on the MyHouseSport leggings, I feel extremely comfortable moving, sprawling, and working on my par-terre defense! They've sent me samples, and i've put them through the ringer of hard practices, multiple wash cycles, and they still feel as good as my Lululemon leggings that were 2-3x the price. 

 

Singlets

These singlets are a great addition, especially for the freestyle season. What makes freestyle singlets different from regular season? You need two singlets, one red and one blue. The singlet can have any design, but needs to distinctly show a red or blue stripe on each leg and across the back. If you are wrestling internationally, the federation is beginning to request that the singlet cut is done in the racer back style. MyHouseSports Gear allows you to customize your singlets for your team, or for yourself! 

 

Compression top and shorts

Since the NFHS (National Federation of High Schools) has approved the two-piece competition uniform, more wrestlers have began to choose this option. The availability of shorts and compression tops for girls is quite limited. However, MHS has seen the need for this option and created gear for the girls looking for a different option than competing in a singlet. 

 

 

Toska Adams: The Journey is Never Over, Giving Back to the Sport of Wrestling

Wrestling provides so many avenues for giving back. Have you considered officiating after your competitive career is done?It's important for women and girls to know there are other opportunities for them to stay in the sport of wrestling even if its not coaching or competing. Many women started in the sport through roles which supported the tournament organization. Becoming a head pairing master was a coveted role and one held by women ( and men) at the local, national and international level. This person was responsible for hand writing the brackets, recording the wins/loses, determined who would wrestling who in consolations, wrote out the bouts and sent them to the mats as needed. This was before we had technology like TrackWrestling to run our tournaments. The idea of women being on the mat was a different story entirely... for competitors and for referees. Toska Adams has been changing that mind set at the same time many of us have been pioneering women competing. Today, it is not as rare to see a female referee. This is thanks to hard work and pushing boundaries by women who wanted the roles as referees. Now Toska has the opportunity to show other young women finishing their career competing the possibility of raising hands of our sports future greats. 

How Toska became a referee 

My son began wrestling in Middle School. When we began freestyle season, we would travel around the state to different tournaments. Since he was a schoolboy heavyweight, we would often drive 2-3 hours for him to only wrestle 1 or 2 times. Some of my friends invited me to get involved with running the tournaments. I tried pairing for one year, but that was not for me. The next year I decided to start refereeing. That was over 20 years ago.

Why other's should referee 

Anyone male or female can become a referee. Contact referees in your state and find out what tournaments they are going to and ask if you can go along. If you are not sure who to contact, please email me, and I will get the information for you. Women now have the same opportunities as men to officiate wrestling due to the speed in which women’s wrestling is growing.

When I found out I was selected as USA Wrestling Women of the year at Fargo was great. When I was elected by my fellow officials to the USWOA board. Its amazing to meet again wrestlers who have grown up and tell me that they have family pictures with me raising their hand. During the past two years, countless people including coaches, parents and wrestlers have come up to me and tell me how much they missed me officiating and they are all glad I returned. Wrestling is about the people!

How has it impacted your life?

When I became a FILA (now UWW) official, I had the opportunity to travel overseas a number of times. One of my favorite tournaments I traveled to several times was the all women’s tournament in Sweden. I have also traveled all over the United States to tournaments. Because I am a teacher, during the summer I have been able to combine sightseeing with my travels to tournaments. My favorite memory is the year I traveled to the women’s college duals in Iowa. The first day of the tournament was my birthday, and the girls sang happy birthday to me while they were warming up.

Sweden5_0.jpg

Do not let ANYONE tell you that you cannot officiate wrestling. There are still people that believe women should not be part of wrestling. They are wrong! I have always worked very hard and learned as much as I can to continue to improve and be a better official. I found that to be equal, I had to be better.


Toska Adams has been officiating freestyle, greco and folkstyle for over 20 years. She has traveled to Kiev, Sweden, and Poland to officiate for Team USA. She currently holds the position as treasurer for Kentucky USA Wrestling. She was awarded Women’s Developmental Person of the Year and USA Wrestling Woman of the year in 2014.

To get in contact with Toska to learn about your opportunities to become a wrestling referee, email her at toska.adams@jefferson.kyschools.us. 

Monique Cabrera: Encouraging New Athletes to the Wrestling Room

Male or female, how do you encourage a new wrestler when they step on the mat for the first time?

For the past decade, I have been coaching boys and girls high school wrestling. It has been easier enrolling girls to wrestle than boys because I myself am a woman, and wrestled for the high school where I am currently coaching. Feedback has been vital in order to encourage boys and girls to wrestle for the first time. It helps me understand how I can best support their goals and keep them coming back to the mat. Typically, I ask a new athlete why they want to join the sport. There are various reasons to why a young teen wants to join wrestling: from getting into shape, to being more confident, and my favorite to be a part of a family. Over the last five years I have reiterated to high school athletes that wrestling isn't just a team, but a family and a culture to help shape and support becoming a better individual all around.

Instilling values in a new wrestler

Wrestling isn’t just a sport but a lifestyle. How you approach wrestling is how you will most likely approach the rest of your life. I believe student athletes get value from others' experiences who they can relate to. With the support of past captains and alumni, I encourage many to visit the team and share how wrestling has influenced their everyday lives. They preach the importance of staying committed to yourself to get a task done, just like staying committed to finishing a wrestling season. Discipline is needed beyond high school when you decide to go to college, into the military, or to the workforce. Finally the values we have created speaks to supporting, inspiring and lifting each other up on and off the mat through sportsmanship and trust. Our student-athletes continuously do community service and volunteering their time and knowledge to younger kids who choose to participate in wrestling. They are involved in their local community centers and help put on bully boot camp seminars which are free in the Los Angeles area.

Monique's coaching values 

Over the course of my wrestling and coaching career, I have had amazing coaches. Thomas Griffith, Ray Castellanos (current boys coach at the South El Monte H.S.), Lee Allen, Donnie Stephens (Cumberlands), and Terry Steiner. These coaches have supported not only wrestling, but girls wrestling. I have been face to face with quite a few coaches who have told me “I don’t get paid to coach girls,” or “girls do not belong on the mat unless their keeping stats." This is why the coaches I've named have been stand outs for women's wrestling and great influences for me. I needed both the good, the bad, and the ugly coaches in order to develop my style and to have a better understanding of how to develop a girls league in Southern California, but still support boys wrestling at the same time. Wrestling is a win-lose when sport in a match. However, when it comes to promoting, developing, and growing a sport like wrestling, it must be a win-win for both the boys and girls wrestling programs. We have been able to do this successfully at South El Monte High School.

How coaches should encourage new kids to try the sport

The biggest success I have had was having my captains and returners talk to friends and peers to join them at Open Mats during the off season to try the sport to learn at their own pace and to see if they ultimately like it. At the same time We have partnered with BTSLA to run a youth wrestling program where we have our returners and captains volunteer coach and work with the 6th-8th graders that will be joining South El Monte High School soon. This creates a community and team culture so they are accepted and welcomed as incoming freshmen.

What goes around comes around

I am honored to give back to my community and the high school that I came from. When I wrestled for South El Monte High School (2002-2005) I was the only girl until my junior year. Myself and Teri Milkoff were the only two girls who placed at girls regionals and state while being part of an all boys team. In 2014, thanks to the support from my high school coach Ray Castellanos, I was given the platform to create an official girls team. This allowed me to become the first head coach for girls wrestling in the San Gabriel Valley and Southern California Region. I have been lucky to have the support system from my colleagues when I invite, instruct, and coach both the boys and girls on the team. The influence you have on your athletes, male or female, will affect how they decide to give back to this sport. 


photo by dana barsuhn

photo by dana barsuhn

Monique Cabrera wrestled in California and was a state placer. When she wrestled for Menlo College, she was varsity captain and a 2x WCWA All-American. She placed 7th and 8th at the Senior US Open in 2007 and 2008. She is currently on her 4th season as the head girls coach at South El Monte High School where she also heads the local Beat the Streets LA youth program. 

 

 

What You Learn as the Only Girl on the Boys Wrestling Team

rose martines

rose martines

As the fastest growing sport in the US, wrestling is attracting new females to the sport. States are beginning to follow the lead of examples like California, Texas, Hawaii, and Tennessee and are sanctioning wrestling in order to have all-girls teams. However, this still means many girls across the US who want to wrestle must compete against the boys. This poses a challenge for the athlete, the parents, and the coaches. I was very fortunate growing up and competing in California during an era where the state was pushing for all-girls competition, and I was rarely the only girl on my team. Because of this, I brought in ladies who were the only girls on their high school team to speak about their experiences and give their own advice. Forrest Molinari grew up wrestling in California, and today is a resident at the Olympic Training Center. Rose Martines started wrestling her Junior year in Oregon, and will complete her Senior year as the only female on her high school team. Neither athlete a female wrestler come before them as the example for how to be the only girl on the boys team, they were the trend setters. As we continue to encourage girls to try this amazing sport, we are going to need the experiences of others to forge a path for those to come. 

Why did you choose wrestling when there were no examples of females competing already on the team?

ROSE: I have played roller derby since I was about eleven years old, and have grown to enjoy physically challenging contact sports. In high school, I began developing an intrigue for trying new things and throwing myself completely into it to understand other worlds. To put it simply, I like a good challenge, especially one where I learn about what is meaningful to other people. I had done a lot of personal development my sophomore and junior year, reading books and listening to audios about leadership, ambition, and being your best self. This built my general mentality to strive for nothing less than my best. In my science class we formed a group; my male classmate wrestled and my female classmate was a stat girl. I heard about wrestling everyday and thought about joining, the guy was pretty supportive. Then the girl told me about how some of the creepier guys on the team were talking about if there was a girl how much they would like it. I was creeped out my sophomore year because of that, but I was still interested. By junior year I had built enough self confidence to not really care even if people were thinking creepy things, I was excited and wanted to try it. I went up for the meeting and I could tell they weren’t sure if I was going to be a stat girl or a wrestler. The coaches had us go around and say our name and grade, and if we were thinking of being a wrestler or stat girl. I said my name was Rose Martines, I was a junior and I wanted to be a wrestler. I had no experience. The coaches and wrestlers didn’t know how to handle me, and neither did I honestly. They gave me the same directions and I followed them and did my best. It all began to fall into place. I think the aspect of being no other female wrestlers really to look to was inspiring to me. Of course it terrified me, but it was also thrilling to try something new that made other people uncomfortable. I could grow and prove to myself that I am strong, and make a statement for other girls. I remember googling how to be the only girl wrestler and there was a Wiki How for it.

FORREST: Funny thing is, I actually wanted to play football my freshman year of high school but I was way too small for it (I weighed about 95 pounds). So I started wrestling instead. I didn’t know the first thing about wrestling, but I loved every minute of it. Throughout my four years of high school, there was maybe one or two other girls on the team aside from myself each year. I had played baseball for years before high school, and being on an all boys team seemed normal to me. I practiced with boys who were better than me everyday so I could learn faster. Lucky for me, they were willing to help me because I worked hard and was eager to learn since I was our varsity 103 pounder.

What do you think girls should know about being on an all boys wrestling team?

Rose martinez

Rose martinez

ROSE: Guys have a general different kind of humor where everyone makes fun of each other but will still love you at heart. One of the biggest lessons I learned during my first year was how to take crap from people and not let it get to me. At the end of a grueling practice, we typically have conditioning and buddy carries for strength training. I couldn't always do it the right way, but would be doing it the best that I could. One coach would joke about how I looked like a limping grandma carrying the guy. He is like that to everyone, and he and I have a lot of respect for each other. I had to learn that in those moments, I was doing the best and earning respect by trying, even if it seemed or felt pathetic.

FORREST: In my opinion, being on an all boys wrestling team makes you a better wrestler as a girl. It pushes you harder and makes you a lot more gritty. I was held to the same standard as the boys when I was in high school and I believe that is what gave me a strong foundation for my wrestling career.

What advice do you have for other girls who would like to wrestle on an all boys team?

FORREST: I say go for it! Show up everyday and be the hardest worker in the room. Show them you mean business.

ROSE: People may think it’s weird, but secretly they all have an immense amount of respect and admiration for trying wrestling. I would suggest having an honest conversation with the coach about why you want to do it, that you are willing to learn and push yourself, AND BE COACHABLE. Being the only girl on an all boys team is completely doable, and is happening all the time all over the country. Just trust yourself, and know that you are amazing and strong. You are competing against guys who are biologically predisposition to be stronger than you. You are doing the same training and skills that they are doing, but it is so much cooler that you are doing it because girls have another level of barriers to overcome. If people think it's weird, they just do not understand and you have to be okay with that. Do it for yourself.

forrest molinari: submitted photo 

forrest molinari: submitted photo 

What kinds of lessons have you learned about yourself?

FORREST: I’ve learned so much about myself and about life through wrestling. I really couldn’t imagine what my life would be like today if I hadn’t started wrestling. I have learned what my core values and morals are, what kind of person I want to be and how I want to live my life, what my goals and standards are, and strengthened my faith.

The best part is the memories and friends I’ve made from this sport and how it has blessed me to live this amazing life traveling and competing all over the world.

ROSE: Because of wrestling, I better understand people, teamwork, dedication, commitment, discipline, respect, and heart, which are all skills and qualities that every job looks for. Wrestling has taught me to always be strong, have confidence, push limits, poke at sexism, do my best, and respect everyone and everything I work with. It has taught me to dream big and commit to your goals. It has taught me that I am tougher than I ever thought, and can do things I never imagined myself doing. It has taught me so much and I am most especially grateful for all of the meaningful relationships I created with my teammates and coaches. 

How have you implemented these lessons for your wrestling career?

FORREST: I can look back over the years and see where I learned life lessons and how wrestling contributed in those moments to help me grow. It wasn’t always easy and I learned a lot of lessons the hard way but that has made me who I am today and given me the confidence to pursue my goals with no doubts in my mind.

ROSE: Wrestling has helped shape who I am and who I will become. I joined because I began to find that so many of the people I looked up to or respected, had wrestled at some point in their life, so I knew that there was something about the mental challenge that prepares you for success and discipline outside of sports as well. I think one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much was because of how I was able to fully throw myself into it, and the world of the sport. I think by putting your all into something like wrestling, helps you know in the real world that there is always more that can be done; you can always organize a little more thoroughly, speak more genuinely, pursue more passionately, test yourself and dig deeper. You know that somewhere there is more, even if all seems lost, if you have the will, and the passion you can find a way to make something happen.


Forrest Molinari graduated from Benicia High School in 2013 in Benicia, CA. She attended King University and upon graduating, became a resident at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. She is currently a National Team Member for USA Wrestling at 65kg, a 3x WCWA All-American, and a 2018 World Cup team member. 

 

Rose Martines joined her high school wrestling team in Oregon as a junior, with no prior experience. Her experience in contact sports was playing roller derby for five years. She was the only female on her team and competed against mostly male opponents. She committed herself to morning workouts, extra help after every practice and daily tracking of her weight and everything she ate. Both junior and senior year, Rose received the Heart and Effort Award, and her senior year she was awarded the Outstanding Female "Citizen-Athlete-Scholar" award from Rotary.