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January 3, 2019




Coaches and Leaders,

            Happy New Year !  I hope you got a little time for family and friends, over the last couple of weeks.  I know it’s a busy time.

            Your National Coaches Council has met twice, since I last contacted you.  We’ve been working on the Nuts & Bolts of a Schoolboy / girl qualifying event for Continental and World Championships.  Looks like it’s likely to be held in the Omaha area, late Spring, early Summer.  Let the Events Staff work their magic, but expect to see this event on the schedule soon.

            We have also been chewing on Seeding / Separation Criteria for Cadet World Team Trials. There are a couple of twists involved, with FloWrestling’s involvement.  Progress is being made and we feel like the Council is representing your voice well.

            Same with Year II of Final X.  Those events are scheduled, TENTATIVELY, and one of them is stacked on the weekend of our Regional Championship.  Stay tuned… I know it’s a work in progress.  Some positives are:  There will only be TWO events, rather than three, easing some of the cost and travel burden to our RTC’s; and ALL THREE styles will be contested in those two events.

            We listened to a very constructive report, from Coach Steiner, about our Womens’ Teams approach to Tokyo 2020.  The focus, due in large part to a training opportunity in China, is that Wrestling requires Hard Work !  What a thought.

            We also listened to Coach Mayabb’s report on the recent Greco-Roman Wrestling Summit.  Top leaders, from around the country, dug in to a plan for Tokyo 2020 and beyond.  It’s more than fair to say, this plan requires my effort and it requires yours. 

            Dead center of our Scholastic Styles Season, we all have the opportunity to say the words, “Greco-Roman Wrestling”, as we discuss what it means to be either Up by four or Down by four in a State Championship Semi.  I’ll do my part.  Please do yours.

Blowin’ Off Some Steam

            This rant is specific to Scholastic Wrestling, specifically High School.

            You’ve seen me harp on some of the ”Little Things”.  Here I go, again.  I’m seeing a lot of stress placed on our sport, as a so-called ‘Sign of the Times’. I see it Nationally, Regionally, in the States I get to visit, and Locally in my own State.

            Those of you that sat through the NFHS rules PowerPoint noticed what I did.  There is a huge emphasis on the so-called Administrative duties and protocols.   We’re having to ask our referees to deal with things like:  To wear, or not to wear Socks at weigh in; Definition of ‘Legal Undergarment’; What may, or may not, be worn under, or over, singlets and/or two-piece uniforms; Appropriate Mouth-Pieces; Facial hair; The need for, appropriate style of, and attachment of Hair Covers.

            As all this crowds our agenda, we are also living in a time when it can be ‘Cost-Prohibitive’ to have Referees present during the weigh-in process… when all those checks take place.

            As all of these issues are addressed… or not addressed… by those conducting the checks, clearly some enforcement is falling through the cracks.         

And, then we end up with this “Mess” that’s going on in New Jersey !     

            I am fortunate that I get to see lots of Small-Town programs compete, throughout New Mexico. We, as a State, are fortunate that diversity defines us.

            That said, I spend time, at every event, scolding Referees, Coaches and Athletes.  The most frequent topic is Hair Coverings.  The rules regarding the ATTACHMENT to the Head Gear have been in place several years, yet I still get, “Sorry, we didn’t know”… are you $*#! Kidding   me ?

            The rules also do a decent job outlining situations that require Hair Covering.  Not only is length an issue.  Abrasiveness is.  

            I don’t know, or want to know, any of the history of the individuals involved in the New Jersey incident.  However, simply looking at the role performances of ALL involved, shame on US !

It appears that this experienced athlete was hearing, FOR THE FIRST TIME, that something about his hair required covering or cutting.

            How is this possible ? Were his Coaches too busy teaching garbage moves to inform their athletes about the rules ?  Were ALL the referees that contacted the athlete, prior to the incident, too cowardly to enforce the rule, or too stupid to know the rule ?

            Without knowing, or caring, about the History of this referee, I still see ALL of US having to carry the result of the moment.  Now, we’re talking about ethnic/racial implications and about athletes entitlement to ‘Personal Identity’.  We are inviting far too many esteemed members of the legal profession to have a role in our outcomes.

            I know I can’t have any input, or impact, on this ugly representation of our sport.  What I can do is hold my feet, and yours, to the fire. Coach, Referee, Athlete, Parent, Teammate, Best Friend… we are in this Wrestling Thing together.

            We all brag that, to be a member of this sport… this cult… is not something everyone can accomplish. Nor is it easy.  We pride ourselves on giving a certain amount of our ‘Personal Identity’ for the good of a group, so large we can never know our brothers and sisters.   We define our own problems, individually and collectively, and solve those problems without legal intervention.

            Regardless of role, we need to all take a step back, regroup and resume.  Referee, Coach, Parent… If we’re not courageous enough to inform a teenager about ALL of the costs to be a Wrestler, you need to choose an easier hobby.

            If not that avenue, then we must collectively demand that the NFHS, ALL State Associations,  and other Wrestling Rules administrations immediately remove any and all restrictions to wrestling competition that may be interpreted as limiting any individual’s personal identification.

Wow !  I feel Better, now.  Happy New year.

Ciao,  Rusty

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