Wrestling booming in Valley’s elementary ranks

The Cowichan Valley Wrestling Club’s elementary program took a huge step forward earlier this month with its first-ever play day at Duncan Christian School.

A total of 71 wrestlers took part in the event on March 4, representing DCS, Queen of Angels School and the CVWC, as well as Nanaimo schools.

The inaugural meet turned out to be a big success.

"All wrestlers finished with medals and smiles on their faces," said Rick Bryan, who heads up the CVWC’s elementary division.

The play day was an indication of how far the elementary program has come in a short time. The CVWC introduced the division two years ago to promote grassroots development of athletes between nine and 13. Twenty wrestlers signed up in the first season. Since then, the elementary division has exploded to more than 40 members.

Bryan has made recruiting visits to more than a dozen schools over the last two years, taking over the phys ed schedule for two or three days and giving all classes an introduction to wrestling.

"The response has been amazing," Bryan said. "Most schools report huge enthusiasm among both kids and teachers. In fact, many schools have already booked us for a second season. Several schools are discussing forming their own wrestling teams." Bryan isn’t surprised that kids, teachers and parents have flocked to the sport.

"Wrestling is safe, affordable, and fun," he said. "Kids are hard-wired to enjoy roughhousing. We add safety rules, supervision, and medals afterward. Parents love the fact that wrestling promotes sound values often missing in traditional minor sports. Fighting is completely unknown in wrestling. Fitness, respect, sportsmanship and commitment are totally emphasized. We don’t teach just wrestling skills, we teach life-skills."