For the past six years, kids have honed their skills on the mats by joining the Spanish Springs Wrestling Kids Club. This year, 98 kids ranging from ages 5-15 signed up for the group, which has been seeking sponsors to help fund equipment and travel for the team. While many members have been on the club for a number of years, for those who are new to the sport, SSWKC offers a perfect place to start.
“What we focus on is more about technique and skills they can develop,” SSWKC coach Jake Griffen said. “Yeah, winning is good, but at this stage it’s not everything. We’re just trying to build a foundation here. Just core wrestling. I don’t want to get too fancy with them because it can become too much and create chaos in the head. If they have too much in their head then they have a hard time figuring out which move to use, so we just stick to the core basics.”
Once the kids have those basics done, they apply them to their matches. And now as the club prepares to host its end-of-the-season tournament this Saturday and Sunday at Spanish Springs High School, some in the club will be sharpening those skills with state on the horizon. Still, the kids are staying focused on having fun.
Anthony Sissom, 10, said the thing he enjoys the most about wrestling is winning because it makes him happy and it is fun. Some of his teammates shared those feelings.
“I just like wrestling because it’s fun,” said Devin Griffen, 9, who has been with the club for four years. “You can make new friends. And then you want to beat them.”
Dallin Gresko, 11, who has been wrestling for five years, agreed.
“I just really like coming here and wrestling," he said. "It feels really good when you win a match. You just feel like you worked so hard and to win is awesome.”
While the kids enjoy having their hand raised at the end of the match, their coaches celebrate the small victories as well.
“Seeing the time and effort they put in, it’s awesome, especially when you see it start to click for them,” coach Steve Gresko said. “When they first start out, they don’t win a whole lot, but you can see when it starts to finally click for them and they start to win matches, and that’s when they really start to love it.
“For a lot of kids it doesn’t click right away. But as a coach, it doesn’t matter if it clicks for a kid that is 5 years old or a kid that is just starting to wrestle his freshman year of high school. When you see them make that connection and start to get it and be successful, that’s what makes it enjoyable. That’s why we do it.”
It is a sentiment that coach Griffen shares.
“It’s just the satisfaction of watching them enjoy it, watching them love it,” he said. “Win or lose, when they come away with a smile on their face or they say ‘Coach, that was fun,’ that’s what it’s about. That’s what I take away from it. That’s what our goal is. Our goal is to make sure that the kids are happy because if they are happy and love the sport, then they want to keep wrestling. Otherwise it’s just a lot of wasted talent.”