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High School Numbers Down AGAIN

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The kids that are hallway recruits by teachers/coaches will have very little if any impact on the national scene. There are very few "Miles Lee's" out there. It will however increase the quality of wrestling at the county/league level. That's where IMO the focus needs to be to improve overall numbers and that is where the sport seems to be losing the most of its numbers.

 

Recruiting a kid out of the hallways by telling them, "Hey you can be a state/national champion and get a college scholarship" is not very realistic and could be overwhelming to potential first time wrestlers. It is VERY realistic however to tell them "You can be a league/county champion, you could have a winning record, you will get into incredible shape, you will be a big name in the hallways of this school" which could be very attractive to a lot of kids. The masses don't know or really care about the difference between a Spencer Lee and the "good" wrestler from their local high school. If we're talking about increasing overall participation numbers and interest in the sport, the county/league level is where they're going to make an impact.

 

Even making those selling points, is pretty difficult. Personally, the more success my kids have had, I've actually found it is harder to get kids out of the hallway to come out. They see the kids going to state and medaling and seem more afraid of it than inspired by it.

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Even making those selling points, is pretty difficult. Personally, the more success my kids have had, I've actually found it is harder to get kids out of the hallway to come out. They see the kids going to state and medaling and seem more afraid of it than inspired by it.

 

No one said it would be easy. At the end of the day wrestling is a very difficult sport, arguably the most difficult amongst HS sports so its always going to be a bit of a hard sell. As for seeing kids going to and medaling at states, not all schools have that type of athletic performance. For many schools fielding a full lineup and being competitive in their league is all that is being asked for. If the question is increasing the number of national level wrestlers that's a completely different story versus increase overall participation numbers and bringing it to the masses.

Edited by BigTenFanboy

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The kids that are hallway recruits by teachers/coaches will have very little if any impact on the national scene. There are very few "Miles Lee's" out there. It will however increase the quality of wrestling at the county/league level. That's where IMO the focus needs to be to improve overall numbers and that is where the sport seems to be losing the most of its numbers.

 

Recruiting a kid out of the hallways by telling them, "Hey you can be a state/national champion and get a college scholarship" is not very realistic and could be overwhelming to potential first time wrestlers. It is VERY realistic however to tell them "You can be a league/county champion, you could have a winning record, you will get into incredible shape, you will be a big name in the hallways of this school" which could be very attractive to a lot of kids. The masses don't know or really care about the difference between a Spencer Lee and the "good" wrestler from their local high school. If we're talking about increasing overall participation numbers and interest in the sport, the county/league level is where they're going to make an impact.

90 percent of wrestlers currently have no impact on the national scene, so we aren't worried about who we already have in that demographic, we got them early.

 

One coach back home was a guy named John Sendzik at Denbigh High in Newport News. he pulled kids out of the hallway constantly and reeled off a string of district titles. One guy he pulled out of the hallway was Teante Gray, ended up being a state runner up to Christian Staylor at Great Bridge. I think Gray went NAIA. another was Max Yates, who ended up in the regional finals twice -- he wrestled two years. Ended up on an NFL roster for a short time. Keith Bell was pulled off the football field with Max. He had ONE year of wrestling, didn't qualify for state but then placed in Fargo at Junior FS and ended up wrestling in college.

 

While these guys weren't D1, John was always on the lookout for athletic kids. The college thing was part of the pitch later, but beating district rivals and being part of a winnings team (in their bubble) was part of the allure.

 

More coaches with that mentality will get more kids out -- BTW there were also some all-star kids on that team who made cadet world teams and wrestled D1, so there was some talent there. John just got a ton out of kids who didn't know a thing when they started. That's coaching and development.

Edited by JasonBryant

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90 percent of wrestlers currently have no impact on the national scene, so we aren't worried about who we already have in that demographic, we got them early.

 

One coach back home was a guy named John Sendzik at Denbigh High in Newport News. he pulled kids out of the hallway constantly and reeled off a string of district titles. One guy he pulled out of the hallway was Teante Gray, ended up being a state runner up to Christian Staylor at Great Bridge. I think Gray went NAIA. another was Max Yates, who ended up in the regional finals twice -- he wrestled two years. Ended up on an NFL roster for a short time. Keith Bell was pulled off the football field with Max. He had ONE year of wrestling, didn't qualify for state but then placed in Fargo at Junior FS and ended up wrestling in college.

 

While these guys weren't D1, John was always on the lookout for athletic kids. The college thing was part of the pitch later, but beating district rivals and being part of a winnings team (in their bubble) was pet of the allure.

 

More coaches with that mentality will get more kids out -- BTW there were also some all-star kids on that team who made cadet world teams and wrestled D1, so there was some talent there. John just got a ton out of kids who didn't know a thing when they started. That's coaching and development.

YES YES YES

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AnklePicker,

You can pick apart and be averse to my post all you want.  I simply reported a summary of the anecdotal accounts of the kinds of "interest killers" expressed to me by parents and kids during my lifetime in the sport. If it doesn't jibe in your world, oh well. 

For clarification purposes...good coaches can make all day tournaments seem shorter, they stop parents/kids concern about weight cutting, they can eliminate concern for year round commitments, they can remove the stress of a cauliflower ear, they can greatly decrease the number of competitions/matches per season, and they can make the rules less difficult to understand to non wrestler or a fan.

And then you note; "Ways for them to make it an enjoyable experience that kids won't fade away from. Yes, sitting for half a day kind of stinks but if your kid is telling you how much they love it parents will sacrifice."  The preceding "interest killers" is what makes it less enjoyable, in my opinion. 

Judging by the number of posts, you are apparently way more knowledgeable than me, and by your own account, you also have a great talent for eliminating the "interest killers."  Congrats to you. 

 Do you have a real name?  I ask because sometimes it's kind of cool to research or know one's history in the sport, perhaps we might share common acquaintances, experiences, etc...

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My school starts Monday and we still have several positions that are yet to be filled. Neighboring schools have yet to fill a few as well. Huge difference from five years ago. The word is out - teaching in the 21st century sucks.

Funny. My local school district gets over 400 applicants per open position. They take anyone with under a 3.5 GPA a d throw them in the trash.

 

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

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AnklePicker,

You can pick apart and be averse to my post all you want. I simply reported a summary of the anecdotal accounts of the kinds of "interest killers" expressed to me by parents and kids during my lifetime in the sport. If it doesn't jibe in your world, oh well.

For clarification purposes...good coaches can make all day tournaments seem shorter, they stop parents/kids concern about weight cutting, they can eliminate concern for year round commitments, they can remove the stress of a cauliflower ear, they can greatly decrease the number of competitions/matches per season, and they can make the rules less difficult to understand to non wrestler or a fan.

And then you note; "Ways for them to make it an enjoyable experience that kids won't fade away from. Yes, sitting for half a day kind of stinks but if your kid is telling you how much they love it parents will sacrifice." The preceding "interest killers" is what makes it less enjoyable, in my opinion.

Judging by the number of posts, you are apparently way more knowledgeable than me, and by your own account, you also have a great talent for eliminating the "interest killers." Congrats to you.

Do you have a real name? I ask because sometimes it's kind of cool to research or know one's history in the sport, perhaps we might share common acquaintances, experiences, etc...

The anonymity of forums often provides honest feedback.

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Wrestle,

For me, it adds to credibility, integrity, legitimacy, and transparency, etc.  I think it lends itself to a more civilized and respectful dialogue, especially when views differ.  Perhaps it's just me.  I appreciate being upfront.  One can always pm me and i promise to keep their real name a secret.   And, like I said, perhaps we share some mutual acquaintances, experiences, etc...

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Wrestle,

For me, it adds to credibility, integrity, legitimacy, and transparency, etc. I think it lends itself to a more civilized and respectful dialogue, especially when views differ. Perhaps it's just me. I appreciate being upfront. One can always pm me and i promise to keep their real name a secret. And, like I said, perhaps we share some mutual acquaintances, experiences, etc...

If true identification was required, most forums would be void of commentary. Also, there would not be any trolls.

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"If true identification was required, most forums would be void of commentary. Also, there would not be any trolls."

 

Sounds like a good idea.

Forums like this are not a source of good information. It is what it is. Those that want to provide relevant feedback should attend the NWCA Convention or a local clinic. Writing articles for serious journals is also a good idea. Don't ever take to the bank information that appears on this forum.

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I coach in western PA (focus on youth, but work with JH/HS throughout club season/off hour workouts), and we are having our 7th graders (graduating elem guys) talk to the local elementary schools about the benefits of wrestling. In addition, a lot of our parents coach youth football and try to recruit there. We have about 80 kids in our youth program (K-6), and it was between 95-110 or so when I was a kid 15-20 years ago. 

 

Instead of whining about kids being soft, measures like this can (hopefully) help get some kids into the sport.

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It's a delicate problem to be sure.  While I don't disagree that more teacher/coaches would be a good thing for wrestling, there are MANY teachers who would argue that it would be terrible for education.  I just embarked on a teaching career recently (at this point a big paycheck was unnecessary for my circumstances) and I immediately encountered the Coach Who Happens To Be A Teacher syndrome.  Other teachers and administrators loathe people who go into teaching in order to coach a given sport.  As stated, being a quality teacher nowadays requires a unique skill set, uncommon dedication, and intrinsic motivation.  I imagine being a good coach is no easy task either.  But the purpose of public schools is academic education, not athletic success.  For obvious reasons, football and basketball coaches are given a lot of leeway in the classroom, but in most locations a wrestling coach better be a damn good teacher first or he/she won't last very long.  Finding adequate numbers of individuals capable of prioritizing teaching over coaching while excelling at the coaching part, is very difficult.  

 

The biggest pushback during interviews that I have participated in has always been, "Is this guy gonna be a good teacher, or is he really just a coach who pretends to be a teacher?"  Administrators have to answer to their communities for a losing football program, but not so much wrestling.  Only so many Coach First type of teachers will be tolerated by other teaching staff before morale sinks to unacceptable levels.  I'm not sure what the solution to this dynamic is, but I just thought I'd share my experiences.

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I thought the storyline from about five years ago was that FloWrestling was creating interest outside of the sport and that the numbers were going to explode as a result.

 

Without reading beyond the original post, I'm going to surmise that a good portion of it is that young men in most states who don't start wrestling before high school are smart enough to see the landscape of the demand for junior high results and feel that they just can't catch up in those four short years. With that happening, maybe they wrestle for a year or two, but then they choose something else to fill their time. If you're not "elite" by eighth grade, kids can understand that and seek other options out there.

 

I think that this hits the nail on the head.  With the emphasis on year round wrestling and the focus on being "elite" guys who aren't at that level get left behind.  And lets be honest, wrestling isn't very fun if you go out there and lose most of your matches to guys who are training year round and competing on the circuit during the offseason.  In team sports you can be an average player on a great team, or fill a niche role despite not being a top player.  An overwhelming focus on things like national rankings and college prep kills the interest of people who want to wrestle but don't want to make it their whole lives.

 

That said, I don't think this is a wrestling specific problem.  It is a high school sports problem.

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If true identification was required, most forums would be void of commentary. Also, there would not be any trolls.

 

Have you seen what happened to the comment sections of sites that require a facebook login (which is as close as you get to making people use their real name)?  The trolls still post because they don't care.  It is everybody else who stops.

Edited by ThatLogSchuteWasCarrying

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Let's also look at the number of high school coaches who aren't teaching in the school or the school system. There's something about having someone recruit you out of a classroom or hallway. We've seen success stories countless times where the science teacher/wrestling coach saw a kid who needed an outlet and got them into wrestling. 

 

All we need is two new kids per program per year to set all-time highs, folks. 

 

What happened to the teacher/coach? Is it a by-product of the helicopter parents, soft kids, budget, coaches coming through not wanting to work as hard as their coaches did? 

 

A big part of athlete recruitment and retention, to me, is having a coach IN the school. There are plenty of examples of successful programs where the coach isn't in the school or the school system, but my own eyes have seen better numbers when there's someone walking the halls. 

 

 

 

Well said JB ! You oft bring back some treasured memories

 

Thanks

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It's a delicate problem to be sure. While I don't disagree that more teacher/coaches would be a good thing for wrestling, there are MANY teachers who would argue that it would be terrible for education. I just embarked on a teaching career recently (at this point a big paycheck was unnecessary for my circumstances) and I immediately encountered the Coach Who Happens To Be A Teacher syndrome. Other teachers and administrators loathe people who go into teaching in order to coach a given sport. As stated, being a quality teacher nowadays requires a unique skill set, uncommon dedication, and intrinsic motivation. I imagine being a good coach is no easy task either. But the purpose of public schools is academic education, not athletic success. For obvious reasons, football and basketball coaches are given a lot of leeway in the classroom, but in most locations a wrestling coach better be a damn good teacher first or he/she won't last very long. Finding adequate numbers of individuals capable of prioritizing teaching over coaching while excelling at the coaching part, is very difficult.

 

The biggest pushback during interviews that I have participated in has always been, "Is this guy gonna be a good teacher, or is he really just a coach who pretends to be a teacher?" Administrators have to answer to their communities for a losing football program, but not so much wrestling. Only so many Coach First type of teachers will be tolerated by other teaching staff before morale sinks to unacceptable levels. I'm not sure what the solution to this dynamic is, but I just thought I'd share my experiences.

100% correct! Chinese kids are studying calculus and English in the summer and American kids are playing video games or attending sport camps.

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Specialization may be the main issue. From what I've seen, we no longer have the three sport athlete who goes from football/cross country in the fall to basketball/wrestling in the winter to lacrosse/track/baseball in the spring. Most kids and parents feel like they have to "focus" on one thing if they are going to make it to the next level. Wrestling is the most difficult and offers limited college opportunities, therefore it is usually the first to go. 

 

Wrestling has to be accessible to the average person, not just the fanatics. 

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Specialization may be the main issue. From what I've seen, we no longer have the three sport athlete who goes from football/cross country in the fall to basketball/wrestling in the winter to lacrosse/track/baseball in the spring. Most kids and parents feel like they have to "focus" on one thing if they are going to make it to the next level. Wrestling is the most difficult and offers limited college opportunities, therefore it is usually the first to go. 

 

Wrestling has to be accessible to the average person, not just the fanatics. 

 

I think you're correct but I don't understand how this "have to make it to the next level" mindset has become so pervasive.  Parents spend more money chasing scholarships than the actual value of a scholarship.  Not to mention for the kids - in the past most high school athletes competed with no desire/illusions of competing in college.  Now it seems like kids consider it a failure if they don;t, even though the percentage of kids that go on to the next level hasn't changed all that much.

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I think you're correct but I don't understand how this "have to make it to the next level" mindset has become so pervasive.  Parents spend more money chasing scholarships than the actual value of a scholarship.  Not to mention for the kids - in the past most high school athletes competed with no desire/illusions of competing in college.  Now it seems like kids consider it a failure if they don;t, even though the percentage of kids that go on to the next level hasn't changed all that much.

 

People are prideful. I see this in football and baseball so much more than wrestling. They want something to differentiate themselves from others and make themselves feel superior. As illogical as it is economically, it makes them feel good. In addition to your example of people spending way more on training than they receive in scholarships, you also see kids and families looking passed reasonable in-state public university tuition so they can pay $20,000 a year at an out of state private because the school threw them a $5,000 scholarship. All of this so they can say they are "on scholarship" at Southern New Mexico Wesleyan A&T. These families spend a decade chasing that goal and usually a semester or two playing college ball. 

 

Sports are great, but the most cost and time efficient way to get college paid for is to focus on grades. Athletic scholarships are just a cop out to justify that pride.

 

With that said, sports are also the best way to get a kid that's not interested in school to go to college. 

Edited by superbowlhomeboy

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