Over just four years, the Cowichan Valley Wrestling Club’s Future Wrestling Stars program has exploded in popularity.
When it started, the program boasted about 16 or 17 participants. This year, there were 46 boys and girls between the ages of four and nine registered.
“Every year it’s gone up,” CVWC head coach Nick Zuback said. “Next year we might have to look at splitting it because we can only go up to 50.”
The program ran every Monday night for eight weeks, wrapping up on June 13 with actual wrestling matches, including medals and a podium.
The return rate for previous participants is “really high,” according to Zuback, and one family made the weekly trek from Nanaimo to take part.
Zuback started the program in part to create an opportunity for his own kids, but also to feed into the wrestling club. His own son, Carter, moved up to the CVWC ranks last year, and Zuback expects even more to follow him.
“This year, about a dozen will be eligible,” he said.
If that pattern continues, Zuback anticipates some big things.
“Five or six years down the road from now, we will have athletes going to provincials and nationals who have their roots in Future Wrestling Stars,” he said.
Based on the wrestlers who participated this year, the name of the program is more than appropriate.
“When we say Future Wrestling Stars, it’s accurate,” Zuback said. “There are some tough kids.”