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January USA Update from Rusty

JANUARY 31, 2016





Coaches, Referees and Leaders,

​As February begins, I have three things on my mind.  I’ll offer a summary of what I’ve seen and heard through the Scholastic season.  I’ll discuss the beginning of our transition to the spring and summer season and the Olympic styles.  I’ll ask for your input, as your National Coaches Council makes preparation to represent your interests throughout that transition.

​Let’s do that first.  The National Council has a conference call scheduled in early February.  I’m sure we will trouble-shoot the spring and summer schedule for the developmental age groups.  I’m sure we’ll review procedures leading up to our Olympic Team selection, in early April.  I don’t see much discussion about on-the-mat rules coming up. 

​If there’s something on your mind, please email or call me.  In every Olympic year, things get going really fast.  It seems like the focus is only about getting our Olympians on the podium.  That’s not entirely true, though.  All of us have to keep in mind the needs of our potential Olympians in 2020, 2024, and beyond.  You represent those kids, and I represent you.  Please let me know what you need.

​Regarding the climax of our scholastic season, I mentioned in November, no big rule shakes.  We had only some strengthening of existing rules.  While stability is always a good thing, I gotta’ tell you… I’m seeing some things that bother me and scare me a little.

​There’s not any one BIG thing.  It’s a bunch of little things, that I would never want to see turn into a big thing.  It’s coaches and athletes sneaking around weight management protocols.  It grownups ignoring the “Proper Grooming” rules in place.  It’s male and female athletes showing up, on the mat, with long hair and improper covers.  It’s coaches sitting in the corner with a chew in their mouth.  It’s more frequent displays of misconduct, unsportsmanlike behavior and flagrant misconduct.

​Up front, if this is just me, say so.  But, watching all the crap that’s going on… in professional sports and society in general… I need to remind myself, and offer the idea to next generations, that WE CHOSE TO LIVE DIFFERENTLY.   We chose to honor a code that not everyone can.  We chose to call ourselves Wrestlers, and accept all that implied.

​Going into February, it’s that time of year that every High School and Youth coach craves.  We get to talk about a “Higher Standard”.  We get to brag about young men and women “Challenging Themselves”.  This is the time of year many of us gather our troops around the big-screen, and have them watch “Vision Quest”.

​I’m just sayin’ that, with all society’s experiencing, and us just gearing up for our first Olympic Games after the ‘Scare’, maybe we should have our kids watching “The Last Samurai” instead.  Are we not the last Samurai of American culture ?  Do we not choose to live by a system of honor the others can’t put their finger on, but know they need ?

​Coach, you and I don’t agree with every law on the books.  We don’t agree that all of Wrestling’s rules fit the ‘Modern’ athlete.  But, we do know that rules are designed for the ‘Greater Good’.  We know there are appropriate avenues to change and update rules.  Just telling a high school kid to, “Wear a chin-cup to cover up a full goatee”, or ,”Make sure you don’t take your head gear off, at the end of the match, so the referee doesn’t see your two ear-posts”, doesn’t honor the promise we made, to the kid and his/her parents, when we recruited them.

​It’s wrong for us to ignore behaviors and habits, in the practice room, then make some referee be “The Bad Guy” when they notice.  It’s right for us to check skin, remind athletes about shaving, suggest either haircut or hair cover.  It’s critical that adolescent athletes understand, completely, that it’s our job to advocate for them, but not to make excuses for them.

​As we enter this Championship month, I’m asking you, the Coaches of the Southern Plains, to take that extra step.  Find time to remind and refresh you’re your kids about the lifestyle, as much as the technique.  Make sure they remember the part about us being the “Samurai” of our culture.  Remind them we all made the choice to live by a stronger set  of values.  Dare them to focus on winning “The Right Way”.  Thanx !

​Regarding the upcoming transition to our Spring and Summer season, I don’t have to remind you it’s an Olympic Year !  As USA Wrestling’s second largest constituent group, we as Developmental Coaches hold up the base of the pyramid while our eighteen best compete for medals in Rio.

​Every Olympic Year stresses our mechanisms to their limits.  We have to provide

for our kids, best way possible, within that stress.  Scheduling of some events gets

bumped, to accommodate our Qualifiers and Trials.  Some of the clinicians and guest appearances we get used to give way to training camps.  Some budget items suffer strain.

​Chances are good that you won’t notice any hardship.  Still, information is power.  Please make it your business to relay pertinent information to your athletes and their parents.  It helps them understand they are part of the big picture, being members of Wrestling’s National Governing Body.  It also helps them develop a little more personal attachment to our Olympic efforts.

​That’s it.  Thanx for reading.  I sincerely wish you the best, through your Championship series.  I look forward to seeing you soon.  Remember, you are welcome contact me, if I can help you in any way.





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