Every year, the Alberni Valley Wrestling Club hosts one of the largest wrestling camps in the province, inviting young athletes from across B.C. to learn from guest coaches.
But the Summer Wrestling Camps start with a Kids Camp, offering a free introduction to the sport of wrestling for elementary school students.
This year’s Kids Camp took place from July 8-10. For young wrestlers who competed in the Alberni Valley Elementary Wrestling League last fall, the Kids Camp is a great opportunity to hone their skills for the upcoming school year. But for those brand new to the sport, it’s an opportunity to give it a try.
Camp director James Messenger explained that Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS) wrestlers and coaches visited elementary schools in June to invite students to the upcoming camp.
“It’s summertime, and parents are looking for something for kids to do during the day,” he said. “And we’re always looking to introduce and expose kids to the sport.”
This year’s camp saw about 80 participants, from Kindergarten to Grade 7. Kids learned about the sport of wrestling through games, and learned some of the basics—how to stand, how to turn, how to perform a takedown.
“We keep it pretty free-flowing, and we try to gauge and adjust our groups,” said Messenger. “The big thing is fun and safety. Wrestling’s pretty natural. It’s just about making sure they’re doing it in a safe way.
“Everything your parents told you not to do, you can do here,” he laughed.
The Kids Camp is also an opportunity for high school athletes to learn about coaching. This year, between 10-12 athletes from ADSS were coaching during the three-day event.
“We’re always looking for our next generation of coaches,” said Messenger.
After the Kids Camp is the Elite Camp from July 11-14, with more than 80 young athletes participating from across the province. This year boasted an impressive line-up of clinicians, including hometown Olympian Travis Cross, and two-time World Cup medallist Breanne Graham.
“It’s an opportunity for young wrestlers to learn and wrestle and get coached by different people,” explained Messenger.
Other top clinicians included the two-time All-American Tyler Mclean, NJCWA All-American Phil Mclean and three-time national champion Nolan Badovinac.