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Whats, Whens, Hows, and Whys

Of the Video Review Process 

in Wrestling’s Olympic styles

We live in a fractious time.  Society at large often treats being a Victim better than being a Champion.  Pass Interference,  a Charging Foul, or a bad Strike call get more attention than a great catch, shot, or at bat.  Too many Americans have become immersed in this “Win or get Cheated” mentality.

Wrestling… our beloved microcosm… still dares to be different.  We respect our opponent’s efforts and take our lumps.  We listen to experienced Coaches when they remind us, “If you can’t survive a bad call, you really haven’t done all you can to prepare”.

Technology has provided assistance in all sports.  The video review gives refereeing teams a Second Chance to get a call right.  That’s a good thing… but never will be a perfect thing.  Any way you cut it, we depend on human eyes, bad camera angles, and obstructed views.

As ‘Customer Service Agents’, Wrestling Coaches and Referees can work together to capitalize on that Second Chance to get one right.  However, when we start to expect perfection, from each other or the process, we threaten the cherished Honor System that makes Wrestling so special in the first place.

As educated and experienced Coaches, we have to include the mechanics of the Challenge in our Basic Skills arsenal.  Offered here are a few pointers… things to consider in the split-second decision to interrupt a bout with the Challenge Block.

WHO CAN CHALLENGE ?  Obviously, the Coach in the corner will do this most of the time.  That said… once in awhile, especially in large Regional or National competitions, a well-prepared athlete will do what they should… take of their shirt, pull up their straps, and go shake hands !

YES !!! The athlete has full rights to challenge !  

Make sure you talk everyone through the process, DURING PRACTICE.  I have always promoted the notion of “Cheating” our kids, once in a while, within the intimacy of our own room.  Developing athletes really need guided experience with “What to do when things go bad”… much more than getting their hand raised and posing for podium photos !

Realize, also, it is the ATHLETE that has the final decision about requesting a challenge.  Make sure they know that they have the right to pick up the block and bring it back to you.  This doesn’t happen often, but I’ve seen it play out well.  The athlete Felt the action, while we only Saw it !

TIMING:  To challenge a call, you must act ‘Immediately’.  This means, as soon as the score goes up on the board.  Remember, you MAY approach the Chair… but you only get Three Questions:  Is the Score correct ?;  Is the Time correct ?;  Who holds criteria ?

AWARENESS:  Teach yourself to include the Referee’s position, along with reactions from Judge and Chair, in your overall view of the bout. 

USE HINTS:  Watch facial expressions and body mechanics.  Is each position firm or confused, begging or demanding, in position or guessing ?  Did the Referee and Judge agree, to the chagrin of the Chair ?  Did they disagree and force the Chair to confirm the lesser of two evils ?  Did the Chair call ‘em over for a conference, then create a brand new call ?

Did any of the three suddenly drill you with eye contact ?  Could they be suggesting that the only way they can help you is if you throw the block ?

Also scan the opposing corner.  What’s your colleague saying to their athlete ?  Are they watching you, to see if you’ve picked up the block ? 

Realize the Camera Angle comes into play.  Where is the camera set up ?  Is it stationary, or being panned by a human ?  How much can angle help you or hurt you ?

DO THE MATH:  How much time is left ?  First period or second ?  How does a challenge impact both athletes, emotionally ?  (This is another reason to Practice exposing your athletes to adversity, in the room.  Stoicism is a virtue, under stress.)

Did the questionable call trash you, tie it up, or make it close ?  Who holds criteria if you’re successful ?  What about if you’re not ?


Read your athlete’s reaction.  Ask ‘em, if you need to.  If the call was good, they’ll tell you.

COMMUNICATION:  When I am in in my Refereeing role, I always want to make sure every stakeholder has equal access to information.  If I’m on the whistle, I will pick up the Challenge Block, walk to Coach and ask, “What is it you want us to look at ?”  If I’m in the Chair, I invite Coach to walk across the mat to give me that information.  This way, I can share proper information with the Jury Member watching the review. 

Realize that not everyone handles this the same way !  Use your voice and body language to diminish threat.  Ask, politely, to approach.  Be brief and pleasant… “(Ma’am, Sir), may I tell you, specifically, what we’re asking ?”  Step back, stay interested, but don’t miss the chance to focus on your athlete.  They need information about What’s Next… either way the challenge goes.  Instill confidence !

AVOID THE REVENGE CHALLENGE:  Indeed, we’ve all been there !  The best kid in your room just got beat.  The officiating crew was old, young, or a little shaky.  The kid’s mom spent some outrageous sum for them to be here… and she’s holding YOU accountable.  “WTF !  I’ll throw the brick, so they have to watch it while I rant and rave and carry on.”

As tempting as it is, fight this urge.  Even if it’s subliminal, our reputation both precedes and follows us.  Be known for the logic in your presentation, rather than the emotion.   Be that Coach who referees count on, in tight spots.  (I assure you, they talk).  “You know what ?  This Coach almost never gets riled up.   If she/he is challenging, we really need to take a look.”

That’s never a guarantee that the challenge will go your way.  It IS a subtle message… to you, to your athlete, to their parents… that your ability and presentation is highly respected.  Hey… there are worse things !

Coach, I hope these few insights stimulate further discussion, in your room and among your peers.  I really take this “Customer Service” thing seriously.  Wrestling has to remain the one place where kids can count on grown-ups… regardless of what uniform they wear that day… to work together in the interest of every kid in the building !

Thanks for doing your part.


MAY 12, 2024




Coaches, Officials and Leaders,

I’m thrilled to announce our Southern Plains Regional Developmental Coaches of the Year for 2024.

They include:

Women’s DECOY -  Scott Cutbirth, MO

Men’s FS DECOY -  Clint Slyter, KS

Greco-Roman DECOY -  Brian Graham, MO 

These three will be honored in a brief ceremony, during our Championship in two weeks.

Our Men’s FS and GR selections will then be considered for National DECOY, which is awarded in Fargo.  Scott’s name will be forwarded to USAW’s Women’s Age Group Committee, in consideration for the National Award, also presented in Fargo.

It seems like we’re all set for a great Southern Plains event.  A word of thanks to Texas Referee NaHumma, who will serve as clinician this year.  I know that NaHumma has really been beating the bushes to get adequate numbers of referees for our event.  In this day of over-scheduling, we’re seeing many events understaffed.  Thanks, NaHumma, for your extra effort.

In a separate attachment, I’ve added some ideas about managing Challenge Block / Video Review protocols.  Take a look and start your own conversations.  Like a good Boy Scout, “Be Prepared”.

Thanks for all you do for kids.  Always feel free to bend my ear with any ideas or concerns that need the attention of our National Coaches’ Council.



APRIL 27, 2024




Coaches, Officials and Leaders,

USAW’s spring season has enjoyed a great start.  The Southern Plains has been right in the thick of things.  Congrats and Thanks for your personal and collective part in our success.

We need to take the Next Step in identifying Southern Plains Nominees for National Developmental Coaches of the Year.  To date, we have a single nominee for each of three categories.

  • Women’s DECOY:  Scott Cutbirth, MO
  • Men’s FS DECOY:   Clint Slyter, KS
  • Greco-Roman:       Brian Graham, MO  (Coach Graham’s nomination is a carryover from 2023, as Per my note of March 20th)

Our immediate next step is to confirm these names for submission by May 10th.

Please do this:  Should you wish to present alternative candidates, or have definable objection to any of these candidates, please notify me by email before midnight Thursday, May 2nd.  If you exercise this option, please CC Coach Tuck, Missouri

This guarantees transparency and fair play, throughout the process.

Next on our plate is preparation for our Regional Championship (May 31 – June 2, Mulvane, KS).  As always, our Kansas brethren are leaving no stone unturned.  The presentation and hospitality of the Southern Plains Championship remains second to none.  Thanx, Kansas !

It’s responsible for all of us to include this next part in our preparation.  ALL age group Regional and National events, this spring, are experiencing shortages in volunteer officiating.  Preliminary reports indicate that the Southern Plains will, indeed be short-handed.

I’m not expecting you to “Fix” this dilemma.  But, I very much count on our Southern Plains to be Part of the Solution, rather than part of the Problem !  

I believe it’s a responsible part of our psychological / emotional preparation to let kids and their parents know how the Officiating deal works.  Don’t be shy about explaining the Volunteer mentality that drives Referees in the Olympic styles !

We need a next generation of parent, graduate, high school coach to grow into the idea that “Spring / Summer refereeing makes winter Coaches more championship inclined” !  We simply cannot allow folks to answer true volunteerism with this “Win – or- Get Cheated”… “My little Billy-Bob / Susie-Bob Needs a Trophy” mentality.  

Please do your part.  We promised kids experience in Coping With Adversity.  Answer the call.  Develop our future.

OK !  You’ve had your sermon now.  Celebrate our Olympic Team and wish our last -chance qualifiers well.  I’ll get you the final results on our DECOY nominations in Mid-May.


MARCH 20, 2024




Coaches, Officials and Leaders,

It’s been six months… a long time for me to be quiet !  I hope you had a wonderful fall and winter season and are excited about Spring and Summer ’24.  I know I am !

I’d love to tell you all about how busy your National Coaches’ Council has been, since September.  Truth is… we haven’t.  For the most part, that’s a good thing.  In the Olympic Styles, we just came off a fabulous 2023 performance… all levels and styles… domestically and internationally.

Many Council members, like you, are deeply immersed in Scholastic Wrestling.  As such, their time and focus on Olympic styles is precious, but not abundant.  In our few brief meetings, we have focused on preparing for Olympic Qualification and protocols.  Nothing new, or alarming, there.  All is well.

Every Olympic year stretches us all, more thinly than other years.  We will soon select our Paris Team Members and go about the task of completing qualification.  We will also select Age Group Continental and World Team members.

With all that brewing, we also kick off our Regional Championships and qualify State Reams for the summer’s National Championships.  Knowing how busy this makes you, I have one pressing need.

That is the Southern Plains Selection / Nomination process for our three Regional Developmental Coaches of the Year (DECOY).  The process calls for us to choose One Each: Freestyle; Greco; Women’s coach.  We need to complete this process on or before May 10th.

Our Region takes pride in accomplishing this task On Time and with full transparency.  Please o your part.  First, get with your peers and SEND ME One Name per Style, per State, along with a brief Nomination Bio.   Do this Before April 10th.

Next, I will share all names nominated with the entire Region, along with Bios.  We will accept voting through May 4th.   With oversight from Missouri’s Mike Tuck, I will tabulate votes and announce winners to The Council, to the Region, and to USA Wrestling’s Coach Education Manager, on or before May 10th.

(Note:  Our selection for Women’s DECOY goes forward to the Women’s Age Group Committee.) 

Read This Part !  I’m about to ask you for something special.  

Last Spring (’23), we went through the exact same process.  We nominated and selected Emily Tew (WM), Mac Borrego (FS), Brian Graham (GR).  Everything went well, EXCEPT… Through some clerical error, somewhere (Don’t know… Can’t Blame), Coach Graham’s nomination never made its way into the file for National Selection.

I hope we can collectively support Re-nominating Missouri’s Brian Graham for the 2024 Southern Plains GR DECOY.  This will give Coach Graham and the Southern Plains a fair shot at National Recognition.  I believe this is Fair and ask your support.

If anyone has an objection, please share it with me or with Coach Tuck.  We will protect your confidentiality, while making the Region aware that we need to pursue another end.  THANX !!!

Please get me your nominations / bios for WM and FS Southern Plains DECOY !  Enjoy this final weekend of the Collegiate Season.  Prepare well for our upcoming Age Group Championships and Olympic Trials.  (Our Southern Plains looks to make a big impact on Paris !)

Thanx for Who You Are and What You Do !  With Love…


The New Mexico Wrestling Hall of Fame is seeking sponsors for our annual induction ceremony in April.  The (NMWHOF) is a non-profit organization (EIN-47-5009354) that recognizes individuals who have achieved excellence in the sport of wrestling.  The NMWHOF honors selected recipients with a ceremonial luncheon and presentation of their achievements. Funding for securing the venue, providing meals, and obtaining the awards is made by charging attendees a reasonable fee and through NMWHOF Board voluntary contributions.


Two years ago, the NMWHOF included the New Mexico High School Boys Dream Team and Girls State Champions.  Recognition of their accomplishment included a plaque, shirt, and gratis meal to each recipient and their guest. The banquet increased from approximately 40 attendees to 190 in 2023.  Honoring the additional recipients necessitated a larger venue, additional awards, and approximately 60 gratis meals which greatly increased our costs.


The NMWHOF Board values recognition of New Mexico Wrestling.  The acknowledgement and preservation of past accomplishments along with the presentation of High School State Champions goes far in validating the sport of wrestling.  It also brings an awareness of the historic excellence of our Hall of Fame Inductees to our younger generation of champions.


The rising cost has forced us to explore other revenue sources.  To keep this event affordable, the Board graciously requests your financial assistance to help us defray the cost.  Any amount of your generosity will be immensely appreciated. 


Our Induction Luncheon Banquet is scheduled for 1:00 pm, April 21, 2024, at the Sheraton Uptown in Albuquerque.  As a banquet sponsor, you will be recognized as follows:


$100-Sponsor Certificate       

$200-Silver Sponsor Certificate, 2 banquet tickets          

$500-Gold Sponsor Certificate, 2 banquet tickets

$1000-Platinum Sponsor Certificate, 4 banquet tickets       

$2000-Diamond Sponsor Certificate and Banquet Table for 10


Thank you,


David Luna


Chairman, New Mexico Wrestling Hall of Fame

2032 Cassidy Drive

Las, Vegas, NM  87701

(505) 429-4055

SEPTEMBER 28, 2023




Coaches, Officials and Leaders,

Just a quick note…

If you haven’t already, please take advantage of USAW’s free offering of the new TEAL Coach Certification.  This Two-Hour Course is available at no cost through SEPTEMBER 30th.

While I hope you’ve already renewed your USAW Membership for ’23 – ’24.  But, even if you haven’t, you can still access TEAL and complete it at your leisure.

Get into USAW membership and Create Your Account.  Then go to Coach certifications, drop TEAL into your cart and complete checkout.  Remember, it’s FREE through Saturday.

This course is extremely well planned and presented.  While TEAL sets out to be Female Specific, it offers fabulous reviews, insights, suggestions, ideas for Coaching Wrestling, regardless of style, age, or gender.

Please pass this encouragement on to any and all.  Should you have questions or need help, Mike Clayton, USAW Manager of Coach Education can assist.

Let me close by Congratulating Senior Team USA on an amazing performance in Belgrade !  There’s a good chance that many who see this note hand a hand in developing these magnificent athletes.  Congrats to you, as well.

More Soon,


JULY 25, 2023




Coaches, Officials and Leaders,

By now, those of you who attended Fargo are home.  The 2023 event carved its way into several columns of the Record Book.  Congrats on your part !

…Which brings me to my first point:  Self-Care in the aftermath.  If you have not already begun implementing your personal recovery plan, please start today.  

We’re all pretty conscientious, in coaching athletes through their recovery phase.  This is one of those weeks to model efficient recovery. 

All competitive events place high demand on coaches, referees, administrators, both physically and emotionally.  The length, intensity, and hyper-focus of Fargo taxes our systems to their limits.  Fortunately, we are able to survive by asking our adrenal system to provide constant cortisol.  This blocks calming neurotransmitters and keep us in “Fight” mode.

That sudden overwhelming lethargy you felt, on the plane / bus ride or drive home, was the flood of serotonin your body had been waiting for.  The transition, though, makes us vulnerable in the short run.  Our immune system depends on moderation and we’ve given the exact opposite for at least 10 days.

Try this:  Admit to yourself you are not invincible.  You need to be a little extra quiet and treat yourself to some naps this week.  Respectfully, let your loved ones know why you’re being quiet.  You definitely have stories to tell, but they can’t quite surface yet.  The stories will be worth waiting for.  

Pound the AirBorn tablets, vitamins C and B Complex.  Double up on the salads and veggies, fruits and juices.  Go for a walk instead of a run. 

Include those loved ones through touch !  Touch generates an oxytocin flow, which counteracts the toxicity of the cortisol defense.   Holding hands on that walk, keeping a kid in your lap while you nap, petting a dog or kitten, grooming a horse, hugging your parents… all of these help your body generate oxytocin and help itself heal.

Our Southern Plains has much to be proud of and thankful for.  Our athletes performed well.  Our coaches and referees set the bar.  Our leaders led responsibly and with a positive voice for all our constituents. 

Next up will be the State Leaders Summit and Board of Directors Meeting.  Those two events coincide in Colorado Springs, August 9th through 12th.  Please touch base with your State Chair to learn details.

From what I can see, there’s nothing earth-shaking on the agenda.  Some Weight Class adjustments and structural components for National Duals won approval in Fargo.  Know that scheduling, next spring and summer will be impacted by preparation for Olympic Games.

If you have a burning complaint or great idea, please begin running it up the chain so it can gain credibility.  Start with your State Chair and Officers.

If you feel any need to voice a concern, outside your State’s chain of leadership, that’s what I’m here for.  I will listen completely and tell you what I really think.  If appropriate, I’ll share concerns up the ladder, to the other members of your National Coaches’ Council.  From there, national staff members can take up the charge.

Over its three-plus decades, the National Coaches Council has often been a conduit for innovation / correction, on behalf of our nation’s coaches and the athletes we serve.  Our Coach Education Program, with Mike Clayton at the helm, has given even more responsible voice to USA Wrestling’s second largest membership contingency… it’s Coaches.

As we speed toward the World Championship and begin the transition to our scholastic season, here’s another chance for me to say “Thank You”, on behalf of our Council.  Your efforts change lives.

Take Good Care of Yourself !


This is a PS for Southern Plains Referees:

I want to invite each USWOA licensed official to explore the ICWOA (Intercollegiate Wrestling Officials Association).  The ICWOA is actively teaming with USWOA in the education component of providing referees for Womens’ Collegiate Programs / Events.

The ICWOA will host its annual conference / clinic in the Southern Plains (Kansas City to be exact) October 6th & 7th.  Educational presentations will address Womens’ Freestyle Collegiate, Mens’ Collegiate, and High School Mechanics and Philosophy.

I’m a believer in Belongingness to Professional Groups.  Association with my peers has always paid off for me.  I encourage any and all to investigate:               

I’d love to see many of you in Kansas City !  RD

JULY 4, 2023




Coaches, Officials and Leaders,

Happy Independence Day ! 

Lots of Congratulations and Thanks are due.  Congrats to all you and yours for the life experiences you provided for kids throughout June. Thanks to you, our Region has become accustomed to celebrating as the calendar turns to July.

We started the month in Mulvane with record entries in our Regional Championship.  Big numbers stress the system.  Thanx to Will Cokeley and Team Kansas for using their experience to manage that stress.  Thanx to Missouri’s Mike Tuck for representing our Coaches in the Sunday meeting.

Thanx to our Volunteer Referees for focusing on excellence in Customer Service, even when short-staffed.  Thanx to all the Volunteer Coaches of our region who used stress to Teach the values that wrestling espouses.

This segways nicely into preparation for Fargo.  There’s more stress on the horizon and more values to uphold.  Please find attached PDF Maps of the floor layout planned for various sessions. (see

We know that we have over 200 referees registered.  Most of them have chips on the table, looking for advancement.  All of them will want to be excellent.  None of them will be perfect.  

!00% of the athletes attending Fargo will want to be excellent.  100% of our Coaches will strive to make excellent decisions.  None of us will be perfect.  Under enormous stress, PERSPECTIVE is priceless !

Tangent:  Congratulations to Southern Plains Referee Rick Schwab for his selection to and performance in the Beach Wrestling World Series / Stage III.  Rick did a fabulous job in last week’s event in St Laurent du Var, France.

Speaking Of:  Absolutely Do Not miss an opportunity for all your kids to get some more handshakes in Fargo.  Below, find the Location and Times for the Second Annual  Fargo Beach event… Part of Beach Wrestling’s Tour of America.

Think I’m crazy if you want, but I’m on record:  Adding Beach Wrestling to your Developing Athletes’ toolboxes is gonna’ end up making you look really smart…  Promise ! 

Stanford University just helped fund three D-1 performers to take part in the tournament in France.  It’s coming !  If you have questions, feel free to contact me directly, or go straight to Event Director Ed Duncan.


Gastropub Volleyball                            Women's 16u/Jr.
3234 43rd St S                                      Sunday, July 16th 2:30-2:45 Check-in
Fargo, ND 58104                                   3:00-5:00pm competition.


Ed Duncan                                            Boys 16U/Jr.                    Thursday, July 20th 8:30-:8:45 am. Check in

9:00am-12:noon Competition

Take care of yourself, if you’re gonna’ be in Fargo.  This things is a physical and emotional drain.  Don’t forget to take off your “Cape” when you need to and simply get some rest !

Go Get ‘Em !


MAY 31, 2023



Coaches, Officials and Leaders,

We’re in for an exciting weekend !  Our Regional Championship in Mulvane completes the cycle of 2023 regional competition.  We’ve saved the best for last !

I know we’ve all done a great job preparing athletes for the physical challenge of regional competition.  In preparing emotionally and cognitively, please mention a couple of bullet points we learned on yesterday’s State Leader call. 

First, we learned that regional participation is up 30% across the board.  We must anticipate a similar boost in numbers.  This impacts every group of stakeholders and their preparation.

Talk to athletes about longer sessions and wait times.  Include parents in this conversation.  Information is power.  In preparation, we can take a little of the edge off anxious parents, which eases the stress their kids have to cope with.  Every little bit helps !

Share the “Plan” with Coaching Staff.  Make sure everyone is sharing the load of fatigue management.  Discover the quiet places in the building where individual coaches can decompress a little.  Stay hydrated !

Be aware of the increased demand on referees.  Play to win !  What I mean by that is…  If all of us come out chirping, we have to anticipate an exponential decline in referee performance as pressure takes its toll.  If we all come out advocating for our clients Professionally and keeping our egos in check, we will see an early rise in officiating confidence and maintain a high level of poise through a long day.  

We also learned that the national organization, SafeSport, is conducting audits at regional events.  What this means is that any stakeholder:  Parent; Athlete; Coach; Referee; Volunteer could be polled.

This is certainly nothing to worry about… simply to be aware of.  All of us have the common sense and the training to know and do what’s right.  In the SafeSport era, we need to be able to articulate how we all work together to ensure that right gets done.

Please let you folks know that SafeSport auditors may approach, and that they are there to support rather than threaten.  Here’s one more spot where preparation can keep Mom calm and help our kids maintain focus.

Celebrate our Bob Cairns / David Stormo award winners and our Men’s Regional Developmental Coaches of the Year.  Be sure to thank the Kansas organization and volunteers for putting on a class act.  Have Fun !



MAY 10, 2023




Coaches, Officials and Leaders,

We are a month out from our Regional Championship.  Then things heat up with duals and preparation for Fargo.

Seems like things are good.  After Vegas, and having some other regionals completed, I have heard Zero in the way of concerns or gripes.  The understanding and implementation of 2023 points of emphasis is gelling well for both Coach and Referee.

This is not without effort.  Hats off to Coach Clayton and our Coach Education delivery.  Mike does a great job getting information to our nation’s coaching community in real time.  Thanx, also, to USWOA’s Officials Education Committee.  The cooperative efforts of our Referees and Coaches offer much greater benefits to our customers, American Athletes.

I believe it’s also easier for us in the Southern Plains.  This is because we take the notion of Coach Education… both in theory and in practice… seriously.  I am also really proud of the legacy Southern Plains Referees have built.  We are known for producing excellent Customer Service. 

As we approach our Mulvane weekend, please plan to attend (or be represented at) the Sunday morning Regional meeting.  You’ll get up-to-the-minute notes about Fargo and the Duals, as well as a voice in our Regions long term planning.

We will honor our Southern Plains Developmental Coaches of the Year in Mulvane, then forward their nomination for the National awards.  After our polling and selection process, over the last three months, it gives me great pleasure to share these outcomes:





Another award we need you to consider is the Southern Plains annual BOB CAIRNS – DAVID STORMO Award.  We ask each state to select your own winner.  The Cairns – Stormo Award is named for two Southern Plains pioneers.  It is awarded to one athlete from each state, based on CHARACTER, CONTRIBUTION, and OVERALL DEMONSTRATION OF THE SPORT’S IDEALS.

Occasionally, Cairns – Storm winners are very accomplished athletes, kids with a ton of trinkets.  Nothing wrong with that.  Most often though, states choose that kid who has all the right qualities, but maybe not so many medals.  

Get with your clubs and coaches and choose your “Right Kid” for your “Right Reasons”.  Be prepared to share that name with tournament organizers.

Many of you know that Eva and I host summer wrestling tours at our summer home in Slovenia.  To get everything prepared, we have to be in Slovenia by May 29th.  This means I’ll miss the tournament.  

Coach Tuck from Missouri will offer the National Coaches’ Council summary in my stead, at the Sunday morning meeting.  I will be thinking of you as the Southern Plains continues our legacy of excellence through the summer of ’23.

Love You Guys / Gals,


MARCH 30, 2023




Coaches, Officials and Leaders,

Last time I wrote was Groundhog Day, and I made reference to a couple of events that remind us of the movie. Buckle up, dear friends !  One of those is coming up soon and many of you will play supporting roles.

Those that ARE gonna’ be in Vegas:  Prepare your athletes and yourselves psychologically / emotionally, as well as physically.  If you are accompanying age-group athletes, especially first-timers, talk a little each day about the chaos to be expected.  This is another great chance for us to live up to our promise of “Teaching Kids to Cope With Adversity” !

Make a plan.  Identify quiet places to unpack the load of a big win or a big loss.  Consider assigning Trust Partners.  If you’re busy on another mat, maybe the kid that just came off this one needs a listener.  Establish meeting places.  There will be times when you need to see everyone’s eyes in delivering information.  Yeah, technology can help.  Consider establish group a WhatsApp, including parents.   It’s good when everyone knows what everyone knows.

Which leads us to the next urgent point.  We are all forged in the values and honor of an ancient art, and in molding our own next generation.  But, we’re doing so in a society that often appears to have lost its way.

Dear Friends, the undertow of 21st Century coaching is SafeSport.  Wear a vest !  Many of our behaviors and communication styles that “Have Always Been OK” are NOT.  Hear me clearly:  SafeSport seeks, honestly and purely, to do good.  But, it’s policy and procedure CANNOT recognize and reward INTENTION.  It can only identify and sanction ACTION.

Again, make a plan !  Room checks ?  Text messaging ?  One-on-one conversation / compliment/ critique,  congratulatory / sympathetic hugs / pats ?   Transportation from one hotel to another ?v                                                                          

Make these topics part of your practice plans, leading up to this and all events.  Make it your business to include parents in this part of the deal.  VISIBLE and INTERRUPTABLE are key components.

I’m not here to preach doom & gloom.  But, colleagues, none of us keep helping kids for years to come, if we ignore this reality and shoot ourselves in the foot.  Please be careful and conscientious.  If you need to talk about this, please contact me or Coach Mike Clayton (Manager of Coach Education, USAW)


Your National Coaches’ Council met last night.  Part of our discussion related to a tiny re-interpretation of FLEEING THE HOLD  IN GRECO. 

Do Not Panic !  Plan !    Take a good look at one of the best things our Officials’ Association offers:  “The most up-to-date Rules Guide on the planet”.  Go to     Click on Menu, then Coaches, then Rule Book.  Go to Chapter 23:  Points of Emphasis.

What’s being emphasized is simple and makes sense.  When wrestling Greco, both athletes need to stay Chest On, Hips In.  No-Brainer for those who prepare.  Whether athlete, parent, coach, referee, all of us appreciate the fine ballet of beautiful Greco-Roman Wrestling.

Here’s the problem… Those who don’t prepare overreact to little things, then panic, then fail miserably.  Athletes and Coaches:  There’s a way to protect a lead without making it ugly.  Referees:  Reasonable acceptance of risk does not require an athlete to forfeit the right to defend.

Sad but true, many of our peers will learn this point of emphasis, for the first time, at the clinic in Vegas.   It’s a reality that volunteer referees who don’t get a ton of practice may overcompensate.  It’s a reality that volunteer coaches who don’t get a ton of practice may spend an entire event feeling cheated. 

We all work so hard to get Developing Athletes to compete in both Olympic styles.  We can’t afford to have our better freestylers walking around, trash-talking Greco.  We can’t have loggers trying to cut trees with a scalpel any more than we can have surgeons operating with a chain saw !  Most importantly, we can’t have accomplished freestylers walking the hallways, explain to youngsters “Why Greco sucks” !

Try this:  “Cheat” your kids in live goes, in the practice room.  Allow them to “Blister” in practice so they can show “Callous” in competition.  Allow them to come to grips with the notion, “Bad calls happen, and it’s not our job to figure out why.  We have to stay on course, so we can be survivors rather than victims.”

By now, we’re all seeing a similar scenario:  “We’re up by one; 50 seconds; guy’s charging us with double unders or swingin’ for the fence with a wild head throw; we sag out of the double unders or push out of range of the head throw, and our hips drop.  Bang !  We eat an iffy caution and one; it’s the last point scored; we lose.”

Re-Boot !  We dominate the center and act like we’re supposed to be winning.  We get weight / pressure on the hands and arms.  If they can’t lift they can’t score.  We control the tie.  (Practice pummeling with authority and purpose.  It’s not some cutesy warm-up dance. It’s dictating opportunity.)  If we get pulled, we use some authority in Returning to the Center (even if we temporarily break contact).  If we get pushed (in panic), we throw and win by five or six instead of one.

The key remains the same… prepare and practice.  Put your best kids in the most threatening situations, during every practice.  Discuss adversity.  Emphasize that, In a sport based on honor we must not fear failure, but dare to succeed.

OK… can I get an amen ?


URGENT DEADLINE:    As per February, I need any and all nominations for Southern Plains Greco and Freestyle Developmental of the Year by this weekend.  If you wish to nominate someone for Women’s DECOY, share that with me and I’ll forward it to the Women’s Age Group Committee.

We are on a different timeline than we have been in the past.  Get me your nominations !  The people you’re thinking of deserve for you to ACT.  No whining, in June, that you got left out.  Call up your peers, tonight!

I appreciate you.  



OCTOBER 5, 2022




Coaches and Leaders,

Happy Autumn !  I’m sure you share my excitement as we speed toward our Scholastic season.  The pre-season money tournaments are on and we start regular season workouts, as November begins.

Your National Coaches’ Council has not met since late July… right after Fargo.  This must mean that everything’s OK !  USA Wrestling hosted our State Leaders Summit and our Board of Directors met.

We have all celebrated strong performances and amazing medal counts in Continental and World Championship events.  Our Cadets (U17), Juniors (U20), Beach Wrestlers and Seniors have all made us proud.  Our Veterans are competing as I write.

Eva and I are back in the States after a productive summer in Slovenia.  We successfully hosted our first American age group tour in late June.  Special gratitude to Southern Plains Coach Marty Hauck for his tireless efforts in assembling our inaugural group.

I have one request / suggestion.  As you initiate your Scholastic preparation, please teach a little positive history and development.  Notice that the bulk of our NFHS rule changes focus on Uniform and Hair.  

This focus, especially the facial hair component, presents us all with a chance to brag about Wrestling.  We are an ancient sport, living on, because of our willingness to stay modern.  Defining our uniform and weigh in rules to increase comfort and inclusion for girls and women testifies to our open-mindedness.

Our new interpretation on Facial Hair gives us another opportunity to magnetize student athletes, parents, and spectator fans.  It’s really 2022 and wrestling is really part of some larger conversations.  Let’s not miss a chance to tout the way our beloved sport molds productive citizens.

The values of an earlier day celebrated wrestlers for being and appearing as “Clean-Cut Young Men”.  Today’s values must celebrate wrestling as being considerate of young women and men, regardless of their family religious and/or ethnic traditions.

Make sure your kids and their families can discuss wrestling’s proactive willingness to do the right thing for the right people at the right time.  Yeah, it’s a little weird for me to even bring it up.  But… you know what… if it helps us grow wrestling… I’m in.

Thanks for listening. 

Love You,


NMWUSA Wrap Up Letter

New Mexico USA Wrestling Athlete, Parent or Supporter,

The NMUSA Wrestling Board wanted to update you on our recent Olympic Styles Season. We have had one of the most successful seasons since I have been here in New Mexico (Emily Tew). We hosted 3 tournaments in the Spring with an average of 130 participants and a high of 157 participants at our state meet. We also hosted an introductory camp that was well attended by 87 athletes. There was participation from all age groups, which was very exciting to see.

In June, we had 37 New Mexico athletes travel out to our Regional Tournament in Kansas. Our Southern Plains Regional Tournament is a great opportunity for NM athletes to test themselves against tough competition from other states without traveling too far. This regional tournament featured wrestlers from 22 different states. Women’s Greco was also featured at this event and several of our athletes participated.

Our Turf Wars Dual teams were larger than ever. We took one shy of a full boys’ team roster. The boys finished in 8th place in both Freestyle and Greco. The girl’s team was only half-full this year, which made competition in duals a challenge, but all of the girls gained valuable experience against some of the best wrestlers in the nation.

Several NM athletes also competed and placed at USMC Women’s Nationals and USAW Kid’s Nationals this year.  While, NMUSA Wrestling did not directly financially support these events, but we are proud of the athletes that participated with many placing at both of these events. Their dedication to our sport will elevate the level of wrestling in our local community.

Jonny Gurule from Los Lunas HS/505WC also made the U20 Greco Roman National Team.  He will be competing in the World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria in mid-August. 

New Mexico took its largest team (18 athletes, 2 girls and 16 boys) out to Fargo, North Dakota for the 2022 US Marine Corps 16U and Junior Nationals also just known as Fargo. This event is the largest wrestling competition in the United States with over 6,000 entries this year. We had several athletes win matches at this high-level event. Roman Lutrell of Cleveland High School placed 6th in the 16U Greco Tournament earning him All American status. Athletes that compete in this prestigious tournament commit their summers to train and prepare. We are very proud of all athletes that participated in this event as well as all our local events.

As we begin a season of calm before the scholastic wrestling season begins, the NMUSA wrestling board will be working on how to further improve our Olympic Styles Season and increase participation throughout our state. We have many dedicated coaches that have gained valuable perspective and knowledge during this season. We look forward to continuing the growth of wrestling in the state of New Mexico.  If you are a New Mexico wrestler, please start thinking about the next Olympic Styles season now! Many opportunities through the Olympic Styles can help you become a better wrestler and even help you wrestle at the next level.   

Thank you for your support this past season. We could not do any of this without participation from athletes, coaches and parents in our state. If you have questions, concerns, or comments, please reach out to one of the NM USA board members. 

Please be on the lookout for further communication from us. We will be outlining our goals for this next season soon. 


Thank you,

Emily Tew, NM USA Women’s Director

Evan Copeland, NM USA State Chair


JULY 8, 2022




Coaches and Leaders,

One week out !  I know a great many of you are preparing for the magical, mystical FARGO.  I don’t have any magic beans for you.  We’ve all grown into all the current rules applications.  The hay’s in the barn.

I do have some practical, common sense suggestions for you to consider.  But, first, please take moment of thought and condolence for our dear ones in Kansas.  The tragic loss of young Damian Mendez hits close to home, for all of us.  Please his family in your thoughts and prayers.  And… see Damian’s goodness in the eyes of your own children and athletes.

This FARGO celebrates 50 years of National Greco-Roman Championships.  The event also promises to be the largest gathering of wrestling competition in the history of the planet.  During our most recent State Leaders Zoom conference, the number 7.150 was projected.

Friends, that translates into a lot of wrestling !  Over the last few days of your preparation for travel, I urge you to identify details, communicate with all your stakeholders and be precise and proactive in your planning.

Meet to identify, specify roles and responsibilities.  Realize that many of your greatest challenges will be outside the FargoDome, away from the mat.  Sitting in the corner, offering tactical advice, during a bout or session, is where we find our comfort zone.  From whistle to whistle, it may or may not go our way, but it makes sense.  It’s predictable.  We have, at least, a hint of control.

Planning, among our team of adults (Coaches, Parents, Trainers, Bus Drivers) must fuel an appropriate sense of control, away from the mat, outside the dome.  Remind everyone that teenagers interpret Structure as Security.  Your non-coaching, adult personnel enjoy having responsibilities delegated to them.  Most really crave active involvement.

With your staff, list ALL of the chores that will require one or more adult.  Divide your list into two columns:  Coach Specific / Floor Access; and Other.  Now, identify every adult contributor, play to the strengths of their unique personality, and begin to delegate.

Get non-active athletes to meals at the right time.  Have the right chaperone in the van or on the bus, as you move different age groups / genders to and from scheduled training time, hotel, or other venue.  

I strongly encourage you to take advantage of the BEACH WRESTLING venue !  The event is being hosted at Gastropub Volleyball, 3234 43rd St S, Fargo, ND 58104.  A ton of thought has gone into the addition of this alternative.  Our leaders and planners agree that providing a Wrestling Related, Constructive outlet for competitors who left the dome early will make our supervision more efficient and keep our athletes safer.

I also encourage you to use the Beach Wrestling as an “Active Rest” alternative for members of your coaching entourage.  For any of us to try spending every minute in the dome, under pressure, is a recipe for disaster !  

Plan the active sessions, for each member of your staff, before you travel.  This allows for everyone’s input and avoids hurt feelings.  Make sure every coach acknowledges that self-care is the first step in caring for others.  Plan to get these great volunteers home, well and safe.  It’s OK to get tired, but not dangerously exhausted.

Before I go, I have to offer a sincere Thanx and Congratulations to our Southern Plains group from Rolla Missouri.  These eight athletes, coach and four family members (along with two from Columbus, Ohio) just spent 10 days with me and Eva, at our home in Slovenia.  I addition to some great culture and food, the group was able to train and compete in four different countries (Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria).

A great time was had by all !

Have a great FARGO !  Be a sponge and soak up the moments of this anniversary, record-setting event.  Take care of yourselves and modle self-care for your athletes.  Be Tenacious.  Be Prepared.  Be Safe.

Love You,



JUNE 12 2022




Coaches and Leaders,

It’s a hectic time, in our summer schedule.  Many of you have gone directly from Southern Plains to 14U / 16U duals.  Then, it’s straight into the Juniors.  Your diligence and effort are always appreciated.

That’s really the focus of this quick note… Appreciation.  The week since Mulvane has been a busy one for Eva and me, just like it has for you.  I’ve had a chance to really process just how lucky we are to be part of the Southern Plains family.

Thanks, first, to the Kansas organizers who continue to offer a well-organized event in a great venue.  We are fortunate to call Mulvane home for three more years.  

Thanks, next, to our athletes and coaches.  We’re not perfect… but, trust me… the Southern Plains is a model of regional development that all USAW regions can look to.  More on that, in a minute.

Thanks to our volunteer Pairings Leaders and Mat Officials.  We’re not perfect either… but, I dare say… all regions can be a little jealous of the Southern Plains’ education system.  Our event draws many of the most decorated referees in America.  This is not an accident.  Our region’s referee base has come to expect, in fact demand, absolute excellence from each other.

That excellence continues to entice the best and brightest of the nation’s up-and-coming referees to put the Southern Plains event on their schedule.  This combination of quantity and quality provides Southern Plains kids what is, arguably, the best officiated regional championship, year after year.

OK… Back to that part about the Southern Plains being a positive model.  I have so much fun watching our kids compete.  Our top athletes can go with anybody, any time.  But, I get a special kick watching the development of our kids, who are not at the elite level yet.  And, I enjoy watching how most of them are coached.

I’m about to go “Miagi” on you (that’s a Karate Kid reference, if you’re too young to recognize it).  What I find our coaches doing, that is so valuable, is Allowing kids to Struggle.  Whether it’s an early mismatch, a questionable call, a technical mistake, or tactical error, I listen to our coaches encouraging kids to accept and solve their own problems. Congratulations !  You’re doin’ it right.

Nationwide, we see so many coaches who define themselves by their ability to Protect athletes from any and all adversity.  The challenge block has become a trophy, to too many of our peers.

Don’t take me wrong.  There are plenty of appropriate times for us to “Protect”.  But, perhaps, not as many as some think.  That’s the Miagi reference.  Miagi would tell Daniel, “We don’t coach to protect.  We coach so that you don’t need protection.  We coach so that you can protect yourself.”

Bravo ! Southern Plains coaches and parents.  In a time when our society seems to have lost its way, we are honoring the values that our sport finds dear.  Not only are we producing some damned fine athletes, we are producing some damned fine citizens.

Did I mention that I’m feeling Appreciative ?



MAY 9, 2022




Coaches and Leaders,

Many of you were in Vegas.  I know you’re still tired. It was a grind.  Thanks to the tireless efforts of all stakeholders, the marathon event was a success.

The rest of us are all fully immersed in the season of Olympic styles.  I was not in Vegas.  Instead, I was at a local event, in my own state, followed by another one this weekend.  I must say, I had as much… if not more… fun as I’ve ever had, this time of year.

More importantly, I learned a lot !  As you are aware, U.S. athletes, coaches, referees are digesting some tweaks to rules.  (I’ve attached a brief summary of those rules applications).  

I listened, carefully, to colleagues working the big show, in Vegas.  As I suspected, there were several reactions… and over-reactions.  The consensus is that, the more stringent application of FLEEING THE MAT is creating the most friction.

What I learned is that we (coaches and officials) need to address the needs of our audience.  The Big Dogs got to practice, again, at the Womens’ event in Ft Worth.  They’ll refine their skills at the various World Team Trials, coming up.

The majority of us are serving the needs of thousands of youngsters who won’t wrestle outside their own state, for a few more years.  We also serve those relatively few, who will represent their state at the Southern Plains.

As coaches, we are all looking for a very simple concept… Predictability.  I hope, and believe, this will work itself out, at the Fargo and Final X levels.  The events where new applications get a little dicey are our various Regionals. That’s where we see a weird combination of audience.  

We get serious, accomplished, high-level kids, tuning u for Duals and Fargo.  We also get “Billy Bob” and “Susie Jean”, both Three Time All-Neighborhood and First Team Members of Mom’s All -Decade Team.

I’ve developed  a strategy of presenting dependable, base-line information that will serve both kids.  My three areas of focus, for 2022, include:  Fleeing The Mat; Starting in Par Terre; and Scream Rule in Danger.

I do my local Athlete / Coach rules clinics, as close to Parents as we can get.  This way, everyone knows what everyone knows.  (This can be a great benefit for local coaches, who must answer to Mom.)

I start ‘em with this, rather global, notion…  The rules in any sport change, to produce greater scoring… hence greater entertainment for spectators.  Consider “Shrinking the Strike Zone”, or “Adding a Pitch Clock”.  And… “What’s it like to be a Defensive Back, today ?  Even Thinking a Negative Thought is 15 Yards and an Automatic First Down !”

The point is, Olympic Wrestling is not, by a stretch, the only sport that tweaks its rules to create more offense.  UWW has to answer to the IOC (and NBC), about the number of television viewers per sport.  Folks simply won’t stop scrolling through channels, to watch two great wrestlers Push !

I follow with the true fundamentals of our 2022 rules adjustments.  First, “Going Out of Bounds is a Bad Thing”.  Might be a Step Out, might be a Flee, might finish, might be any combination.  But, we know for sure, Going Out of Bounds is a Bad Thing.

Second, “Being On Your Back is a Bad Thing”.  Might be points, might be a fall… which Might Seem a Little Quick, you might get lucky and bridge out of bounds.  Now, add to that, “If you Cry Out, making it Seem Like you Might be Injured”, the fall will be called.  (This is ONLY when you are on your back).  Any way you cut it, “Being On Your Back is a Bad Thing”.

Third, and last, “You May Be Put in Par Terre”.  We have to Teach the proper positioning and language of the Par Terre experience.  We also must drive home the point, “Par Terre Wrestling Creates A Lot of Points”.  As Americans, we love wrestling on our feet.  We must teach our next generation of Champions to: “Get into Correct Par Terre Position”, “Defend from Par Terre”, and “Score from Par Terre”.

Experience tells me that this simplistic approach helps developing athletes gain Wrestling Fluency.  I’ve watched enough Playground Games to realize that young kids adapt to rule change, much more efficiently than adults. 

If we apply adequate focus to the Technical Means of Scoring and Defending, I don’t think we need to worry kids, or parents, about Rule Changes.  This allows our Volunteer Referees to focus on Keeping them Relatively Safe and Trying to Get Both Kids Their Fair Share of Each Rule.

Whadya’ Think ?



APRIL 5, 2022




Coaches and Leaders,

I know it’s been a long while since I’ve reached out to you.  As you are well aware, last fall we lost some great leaders… great humans.  Rob Courier (Southern Plains, MO) and Mark Reiland (Northern Plains, IA) are irreplaceable.  With their losses, I felt like I just needed to be quiet for a while.

Through the winter, we had great successes in the Folkstyle / Scholastic arena.  We had one of the more provocative D1 seasons in history.  Many of you watched high school athletes enjoy emancipation from restrictions.  Kids’ programs seemed to flourish.

Many of you are on the bi-weekly State Leaders’ zooms.  We’re all thrilled to hear that USAW is on pace to set all-time membership records.  Things are good.

Now that we’ve finished our National Folkstyle Championship, our thoughts turn to spring, summer, and the Olympic styles.  Following, are a few rules applications making their way down the food chain, from United World Wrestling.

As always, rules interpretation / amendment has only the purpose of making wrestling “Perfect” for our consumers.  As always, nothing is perfect.  As Coaches and Leaders, it’s our constant obligation to assist athletes in the pursuit of perfection.  This simple acts of Thinking about the “Why” of new interpretations, then discussing them, help our kids become the well-rounded, deep-thinking citizens our sport promises.

That said, I encourage all of us to consider those “Whys”, from a broad perspective, as we prepare athletes for spring / summer ’22.  Here goes:

  1. Double Arm Bar, WITH A SIT OUT, ¾ Nelson. WITH A LEG HOOKED, All throws, OVER THE TOP, West Point (Crucifix) ( Chest Crusher), are LEGAL for Every Age Group.
    • This has been hotly debated !  The notion that all these techniques are legal for use by all ages, rather defines your role as Coach !
  2. “Scream” Rule… I like the slang, “Pinjury”.  Any time an athlete indicates being ‘injured’, while in danger, the bout will be stopped and a FALL recorded as the result.                           
    • The history of this one’s easy to figure out.
  3. ALL athletes, 14 and under, are REQUIRED to wear HEADGEAR.
    • This has always been true… being EMPHASIZED.  (Prepare Parents)
  4. In either style, GRECO or FS, the attacking athletes NEED NOT accompany their opponent to the mat, in order to score.
    • This is a change for GRECO.  So… if you throw your opponent, they fly free, roll across their back in landing, you DO earn points ( this example would be FOUR).
  5. Freestyle… In any bout with a TWO-MINUTE period (Veteran’s, 16U, 14U), there will NOT be a Verbal Warning.  When passivity is diagnosed, the offender will be put on the Activity Clock immediately.  This actually saves athletes at least one stoppage.  So…  if we get to one minute, 0-0, someone is going on the clock.
  6. Freestyle…  Both genders, All ages…  An athlete put on the Activity Clock MUST SCORE in 30 seconds, or lose a point.  It does NOT matter how many points their opponent scores, during that 30 seconds.
  7. BOTH Greco & FS…  Expect an increased emphasis on FLEEING the mat.  Many, in the know, say that, “If you leave the mat FACING THE EDGE, you are likely to be called for fleeing.  If this happens and an action FINISHES, there will be points for the action AND (quite possibly) the flee.  The Flee will be penalized by a Caution plus ONE point, in BOTH styles. ( One, instead of two, lowers the probability of a single call determining the winner ).

There’s some good video, explaining rules, on the Officials’ Website

Leaders in officiating will get strong initial details, at their clinic in Vegas.  By the time we get to Regionals, we’ll have a more consistent perspective.

As with many interpretations / changes… Yes, we can expect some friction early on.  As with most, that friction moderates over a relatively short period of time.

Please be the Coach / Leader that did their homework and worked these concepts into preparation and planning.  Please do NOT be the Coach / Leader who allows themselves, hence their athletes and parents, to be blindsided.  We all have plenty of access to information. Use it !

As your representative, I am always open to question and comment.  I’m happy to help you discover answers to hard questions.  Please, also, use the resources within your state.  Every conversation helps every stakeholder inch toward being on the same page.

Happy Easter !  Enjoy the transition into our Olympic styles.  I look forward to seeing you personally.



NMHU to add women's wrestling as a club sport, hopes to make NCAA sport in 2-3 years

AUGUST 29, 2021




Coaches and Leaders,

Welcome to a brand new membership year.  After all we fought through, what a finish we had to the 2021 campaign.  After our all-time greatest Olympic performance, our Juniors hammered their World Championship.  Let’s not forget the success our Cadets found, in their own World Championship.

I choose to view this level of success as a testament to depth… and that means you, me, us.  Clearly, our ‘Roots” are healthy and producing some “Damned Tall Grass” !  On behalf of our entire National Coaches’ Council, please accept my heartfelt congratulations and thanks.  USA Wrestling’s system of development is working, thanks to you.

With that success, I believe we owe it to our constituents… Athletes, Parents, Peers…  to roll out our 2022 Membership Year with a tone of gratitude and responsibility.  The 2022 Membership portal opened August 20th.  

Start with this:  USAW’s Board of Directors approved a Membership Price Increase.  While each state manages their own autonomy, in the presentation and disbursement of their membership fees, most rounded the increase to the nearest five.  Most also rounded Leader Cards (Adults) up, in order to save every penny for Athletes.  Please check with your State Leadership to learn your exact cost and that for your kids.

As you process, prepare and present to parents and peers, let me challenge you with this:  I renewed my USAW membership, the morning of August 21st.  Living in New Mexico, I paid $60.  I CANNOT REMEMBER GETTING A BETTER BARGAIN !

I have friends with kids / grandkids in other youth sports.  Listening to their membership / participation fees makes me cringe !  New Mexico offers High School Team Memberships (Check with your state leaders).  Knowing, first hand, how many high school wrestlers have little, or no, primary insurance protection, I always appreciate USAW’s philosophical approach to protecting and enabling mainstream families.

Just a few years ago, I purchased TWO memberships per year:  A Coach’s Card and an Official’s License.  Now, I get BOTH for sixty bucks.  If you have checked the depths of the website (, you know how many resources we have access to.  There can be no doubt that our National Coach Education Program has a huge role in the success we enjoyed, this summer.

I appreciate the core leadership of USA Wrestling, our Board and our Staff.  Think about what the organization just survived !  We funded TWO years in a row that demanded preparation for both Olympic Games and World Championships.  The organization remained strong and solvent through a period of reduced membership, with almost no events.

Yet, service and opportunity for us and our kids never faltered.  We have to credit our leadership for long-standing fiscal responsibility.  Clearly, our leaders take the responsibility of being the National Governing Body very seriously.  And, then, they argue for hours about handing us a card increase that amounts to a few dollars.

USA Wrestling is not in business to “Sell Insurance” or to “Sell Trophies” !  Parents deserve to know that their membership dollars are being respected.   Every member of USAW, in 2021, contributed a few pennies to Gable Steveson’s back flip and Tamyra Mensah-Stock’s tears.  But, each kid’s contribution was respected and managed professionally.  Sorry, but our “Entrepreneurial Friends” never considered contributing to those memories !

USAW finds itself on solid ground, financially and philosophically.  Our medal production taps into USOPC funding, in a big way. Our Elite Athlete Programs are self-sufficient.  They’re not squandering little Buffy and Jodi’s hard earned membership dollars for glory and really cool warm ups.

Wow !  I’m glad to get all that off my chest.  I don’t perceive myself as a Kiss Ass or a Company Man.  But, I believe in giving credit where it’s due.  Our Board and our Staff are doing things right, when it’s not easy.  (Isn’t that what we ask of kids, every day ?)

I believe parents need to know… need to be told… that their kid is really part of something larger than themselves.  I believe it’s up to me, and up to you, to tell ‘em.  So, if I’m guilty of spewing a ‘Sales Pitch’, I’ll live with it… and sleep well tonight.

Love You, 


APRIL 18, 2021





Coaches & Leaders,

         I hope you’ve enjoyed the last month of wrestling.  Like all of us, I truly appreciate inching closer to being free again.  Being able to be together, interact, compete, celebrate, pout… simply validates all that our sport holds dear. 

         The various levels of men’s and women’s college championships were great examples.  It is such a treat to see these fine young people so happy !  Their displays of gratitude inspire us all to appreciate competitive opportunity.  Wrestlers, more than most, are keenly aware that the terms Distant and Social are opposites.

         Congratulations to the Hawkeyes, along with all the other D1 teams.  The depth we got to see was amazing.  Sad that this crop didn’t get to listen to a packed house.  The people who were in the arena did their best… and seemed to have a great time.

         Speaking of great time… our Olympic Team Trials were more special than ever.  What a wonderful blend of mature super-stars and fresh blood.  The mature added an extra year to the grind each quadrennium presents, and did so with class.  The fresh talent certainly gave us a lot to look forward to, over the next TRI-ennium, leading to Paris.

         Special thanks is due Team Texas.  Having only a few weeks to round up volunteers and promote the Trials, the event came off beautifully.  Thanx for a productive effort !

         We are fielding, what might end up, one of our best Olympic Teams.  This is another testament to the depth our RTCs, universities and developmental programs are pumping out.  As much as I enjoy the celebration of our team selection, I always find myself being a little extra introspective.  “Shoes-on-the-Mat” reminds us that good thing do come to an end. 

         Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve got coming up.  Please take a good look at    to make sure you’re aware of schedule details.  We’ve got Men’s Cadet and U15 World Team Trials, next week, followed by the Junior Trials a week later.  Our Women’s Age Group Trials are the first weekend of May.  May 20th, we have our Beach Wrestling World Team Trials for both genders, Cadets, Juniors and Seniors.  While it has not been officially announced, UWW is in the process of building the 2021 World Series of Beach Wrestling.  Winners also qualify for the Pan-Ams, November 5-7, in Barbados.

         Our Southern Plains Regional Championship, June 4-6, is back in Mulvane.  Like all Regionals, ours is really one of the most important developmental steps we can guide athletes to.  I know we answer to a lot of parents who are laser focused on their kid being at Kids Nationals or Fargo.  As Coaches, we realize that the majority of those kids have no business being in that level of shark tank.  Being a Regional Champion is a BIG DEAL.  Finding out you’re not needs to be manageable, both for kid and parent, if we hope to keep that youngster in the sport.  Get your kids to Mulvane !

         Along that same philosophical position, I need to share some thoughts about the well-being of our organization.  The last 13 months have reminded us how fragile people and institutions really are.  Each one of us have to accept the challenges USAW currently faces.  We ARE USA Wrestling.  We are the volunteer member Coaches, Referees and Leaders that make up USAW’s second largest constituent group.  Moreover, we represent, directly, the largest group, our athletes.

         It being springtime, I enjoy the metaphor of planting and harvesting.  We have to appreciate the nutrients and the nurturing that produced such a bountiful crop.  Those perennial super-stars have nourished some pretty solid World and Olympic Teams.

         Isn’t it interesting, though, that we refer to very base of our development as GRASS ROOTS ?  I actually had a kind of abrasive conversation, about that, a couple of weeks ago.  A couple of folks, deeply immersed in Kids’ Folkstyle were “explaining” to me why they hadn’t renewed their membership with USA Wrestling, this year.

         Their grind was based on USAW’s methodical planning and steps toward re-entry, as the recovery from the info-demic evolved.  Since many of the entrepreneurs hosted kids events, throughout the winter, these guys spent their money on trophies, NOT MEMBERSHIP !  

         The ‘conversation’ reminded me, yet again, that the attitudes and behaviors, over the last 13 months can teach us some valuable lessons.  At the top of the list, we’ve learned that none of us can take the word MEMBERSHIP lightly.  Each of us has to remind all of us  that MEMBERSHIP is what keeps us “In This Thing TOGETHER”.  We’re not shopping for cheap insurance and we’re not paying for the privilege to sit in the corner of a mat, screaming at an eight-year-old.  

         We are MEMBERS of a very elite club… The National Governing Body of Wrestling.  Uniquely American, our membership encompasses both our Folkstyle discipline and our Olympic presence.  

         Members of any organization are ranked by seniority and production.  New members are likely to pay an initiation fee.  They know that their annual dues, in large part, pay for the padded chairs their senior leaders sit in.  So it goes with wrestling.  It has always been true that Little Kids pay for Big Kids to wrestle.

         If we show elementary kids the simple respect their youthful awareness commands, we will remind them often that a few pennies of their MEMBERSHIP are an investment in Adeline Gray and Kyle Dake.  Every Kid, every Coach, every Referee is paying for plane tickets and hotel rooms and training partners and coaches’ salaries… and and and !

         Dave Shultz spoke to a group of youngsters in 1985.  Dave pulled his 1984 Gold Medal out of a sandwich bag and passed it around.  One kid asked Dave, “If you could share your medal with anyone, who would it be ?” Dave never hesitated.  “If I could cut up that medal and share it with all the people who helped me earn it, the medal would turn to dust.”

         With our Age Group World Team Trials on the horizon, our Regionals coming up, looking forward to Fargo, I challenge each of us to remind ourselves and our kids that we are a part of something greater than ourselves.  Every kid deserves to know who Jesse Porter is and what he’s up against.  Every kid needs to know what’s on the line for Dake and Mensa-Stock.  Every kid deserves to be a MEMBER of this Olympic Team.  

Thanx for reading,


JANUARY 25, 2021




Coaches & Leaders,

It’s been a while.  I stayed quiet throughout late fall / early winter.  So, I owe you a Happy 2021, hoping your entire holiday season was filled with love and family.  While actions have been slow and deliberate, USA Wrestling’s discussion and planning has not taken a break.  We may need to start giving medals for “Most Zoom Calls” in a week… day… hour.

I, like many, have found myself being quiet, kinda’ hanging back, just out of frustration.  Anytime my enthusiasm wanes, I immediately get on the phone with Coach Hag.  I did so, last week.  We opined and commiserated about all the elements of life, including wrestling.  Hags reminded me that, when you get down to it, Coaches are in the business of selling hope.

Seems like hope has been in short supply, over the last nine months.  But, with 2020 in our rear-view mirror, we can roll out a new model.  Here we go.

In terms of the business side of your National Coaches’ Council, we have stayed busy.  We’re fortunate that our representation touches every element of wrestling.  We have been active, supporting all styles and age groups, as we collectively come back to life.

USA Wrestling has seized the opportunity to use some of our down-time, in cleaning and polishing councils, committees, policies, procedures that have accumulated a little dust.  Be proud that our Board and Staff having gotten, and stay, on the cutting edge of keeping Wrestling the model microcosm of society.  Board and Staff have implemented significant steps in providing total opportunity to the broad diversity of our membership.

Our Council learned, in December, that we have a chance to grow and diversify, in our representation of our member coaches.  We have taken the initial steps in adding TWO members to the National Coaches Council, both with specific backgrounds in Womens’ Wrestling.  I’m careful how I phrase that.  As individual members, we all have some specifics in our backgrounds.  Yet, we take enormous pride in the notion that your Coaches’ Council, collectively, represents EVERY member, of EVERY age, in EVERY style, in EITHER gender, EVERY day.

College Wrestling is off to a good start, both men’s and women’s.  With national championships scheduled and moving forward, we find good reason to hope. High School Wrestling is reasonably healthy, throughout the Southern Plains.  Our eastern-most states are successfully navigating this new pathway.  Colorado is kicking off, as I write.  Texas is next.  My beloved New Mexico starts late, but with high hopes.  

One of USAW’s premier events, this spring, is the National Showcase (for recruits).  I put that in parentheses to call attention to the concept.  Our Events Staff did their homework, in answering a need.  We have so many graduating seniors… not the rare Blue-Chipper, but those athletes that sustain programs… who lost chances to be seen.  Please applaud USAW’s efforts to connect deserving kids with deserving college programs.  

The event will be held March 26 – 28.  It seems like it may either be in Omaha or Iowa City.  The event is open to ANY athlete who is still in High School and EVER won a state championship. There are several qualifiers, loading brackets quickly !  Please go to        to locate qualifiers convenient for your area.

Appreciate the digital providers that are doing so much to feed our fix.  Besides being able to watch our nation’s greatest compete, realize that they are setting a positive example.  Our kids need to see Taylor and Burroughs, Mensah-Stock and Gray.  They need to see guys like Seth Gross, girls like Erin Golston, maintain the “Wrestle Anyone, Anytime” pace, keeping their goals in focus.

So, there-ya’ go.  Thank You !  I find new optimism, just picturing you guys, while I write.  Thanks, Coach Hag, for easing me back on course.

Your Coaches’ Council will meet, later this week, to confirm some of our positive next steps.  I will report to you, in timely fashion.  I do look forward to seeing you, face to face (not mask to mask !).  I appreciate you.


OCTOBER 13, 2020




Coaches and Leaders,

It was a little easier to get up, this morning, and go play “Virtual School”.  Eva and I spent yesterday getting home from an “undisclosed” location (with five mats on the competition floor).  Thank you, Wrestling, for a weekend of sanity !

The Senior Nationals went well.  Everyone did their part… which defines us.  Many of the marquee names were absent, which is a tragedy.  The upside was the opportunity this offered our “climbers”.  We got a pretty sound glimpse of our future.  Thank you, Wrestling, for inspiring us… young and old !

People were happy.  Clearly, it hasn’t just been the fight we’ve been missing.  The relationships that slice across all our various roles were apparent, in all their glory.  One famous announcer (a Southern Plains girl, named Mayabb) noticed the same thing we did:  Hugs, lots of hugs.  Thank you, Wrestling, for reminding us what’s important !

Our Southern Plains athletes wrestled well, from climber to super-star.  This is a tribute to all our Coaches and Leaders.  Everyone is doing the best we can with what we’ve got, and our kids are profiting.  Thank you, Wrestling, for being an important part of life in our region !

We did enjoy the presence of a few of our sport’s Rock Stars.  Their courage and commitment is to be admired.  I’m certain there will be detractors who will point to Snyder’s injury and say, “That’s why our super-stars were right to skip the event”.  I disagree, having the utmost respect for those who are willing to put their ass on the line.  This exposes our climbers, not only to opportunity, but to the responsibility that comes with success.  Thank you Wrestling, for teaching us humility !

So, now we push forward.  UWW has re-affirmed their commitment to host a Senior Worlds in December.  USAW’s leadership is on it.  It’s important that we recognize what a complicated equation this presents.  In our beloved American system, including the presence of our brethren in the legal ‘profession’, the decision whether to participated is far from an easy one.  Thank you, Wrestling, for teaching us empathy !

Congratulations are in order, for the passionate ones in west Texas.  The Panhandle Wrestling club is USAW’s newest RTC, and made a strong showing, last weekend.  Thank you, Wrestling, for developing leaders like Aaron Meister at WBU.

I know we all have a lot on our plates.  There’s still a long fight, for sanity, ahead.  I just needed to share what I found, over the weekend:  There is Hope !  Keep doing what you’re doing.  Create ways to maximize opportunity, while cooperating with the powers that be.  You’re making a difference.  Thank you, Wrestling, for people like you !



SEPTEMBER 15, 2020




Coaches and Leaders,

I hope you and yours are well.  I know many of you are being able to practice and compete… congrats !  We, in New Mexico are locked down hard.  Being a large land area, with a small population, we don’t have any large Club facilities.  Pretty much all of our mats are being held hostage, in schools.  

Like you, I believe kids need sport !  I’m anxious for all of us to be together and do what we do.  We know that Wrestling goes far beyond sport.  It’s lifestyle.  We are comfortable with calculated risk… expect it… demand it.  

I’ll get to the point.  I’ve always been cast as a bit of a rebel.  The reputation is well-earned (and cherished).  That said, I have to tell you, “I’m a rebel who is a proud, contributing, loyal member of a group”.  That group is USA Wrestling, the National Governing Body of Wrestling in the United States and a leader in the USOPC.

Our 2021 membership year began September 1st.  First time members (over 18), as well as those renewing, must first complete a background check and become (or remain) SafeSport certified.   All of this plays a key role in what you and I offer youth.

As an NGB, USAW answers to a ton of outside agencies and issues.  It is in our National Staff’s job-description to keep the peace with state High School Associations, the NCAA, NAIA, WCWA, UWW, and our several states.  Tall order !

Having listened, rather carefully, to the conversations of our Virtual State Leaders’ Summit, Board of Directors’ Meeting, monthly Leaders’ Calls, GRIT meetings, and our Coaches’ Council Calls, the rebel in me has grown a deeper appreciation for what it means to be USA Wrestling.

There are other “organizations” (actually entrepreneurs is the most gentle term I can muster) out there. These money people can, and do, access facilities, mats and equipment, and personnel, to offer competitive opportunities… especially to youth.

These money people stand to lose nothing, if state governments over-react and shut down high school wrestling.  Quite to the contrary, they stand to GAIN.   

These money people completely disregard the implied relationship our Membership creates, between a seven-year-old and Snyder, Mensah-Stock, Burroughs.  Absent any interest in Olympic Development / Dream, they will go to the bank every Monday, after their event.

I am NOT saying, “Don’t go wrestle”.  The very fact that USAW membership covers athletes in ANY legitimate competition supports our athletes attending events run by all responsible groups.  What I AM saying is, “Exercise sound judgement”.

Beyond that, please take it upon yourself to enlighten parents and athletes.  Let Mom know that her baby is part of our Olympic highlights.  Ask her to really consider the burden of representing our sport, as NGB.

Membership is belongingness, and we all crave that right now.  Kids grow from the knowledge that they really are part of something larger than themselves.  Parents need to know that they are paying for something besides a trophy from the Itty Bitty All City Championship.

The rebel in me is confident that USA Wrestling is looking out for our sport’s Long-Term well-being, through all of this nonsense.  There are so many, out there, who can exercise power over our sport but who have no clue as to the wrestling Lifestyle.  A knee-jerk reaction to second-hand panic can hurt us at our roots.

Seize responsible chances to get your kids a few handshakes.  As you do, please talk up the responsibility we share, looking forward to Olympic Games, NCAA’s and High School States.  Recruit people to the lifestyle.  Spread the word about Membership in a National Governing Body.

On behalf of the Coaches’ Council… and personally… I wish you the best.  Hang Tough.



July 10, 2020




Coaches and Leaders,

I hope you and yours are well.  When last I wrote, in May, I was working hard at spreading optimism.  I haven’t lost that, but it is one ”curve that has been flattened”.

My reality, like yours, changes a few times a day and I’m not having much luck finding things I can control.

Your National Coaches’ Council has stayed busy.  We currently meet bi-weekly, with our next on July 15th.  Each Zoom meeting touches all the bases.  We are studying plans for Age Group Trials and the chances we will attend World Championship events.  We’re in the loop with Developmental Camps, being delivered virtually. 

We work at checking the pulse of our various states.  Clearly, we are all operating under different political views and restrictions… one of those things we can’t control.  The best I have for you, there, is to continue keeping yourself in-the-know, locally.  Your athletes and parents are likely more frustrated and anxious than you.  Make sure you have current and accurate information when they ask.

Our National Developmental Camp is coming up July 27 – 30.  This intensive, virtual experience is designed for your ‘Blue-Chippers’.  Registration costs $95.  If you’ve got athletes that can profit from this experience, contact Mike Clayton, Manager of Coach Education.

Tenatively, UWW has World Championships scheduled for Juniors and U23’s.  Juniors is slated for Belgrade, the first full week of December.  U23’s are in Tampere, Finland, Thanksgiving week.  Trials for these, also tentative, will be at the SPIRE Center, just outside of Cleveland, in mid to late September.

If these trials become a reality and you have kids that belong there, I’ll offer what advice I can, regarding travel and hotel.  The SPIRE Center is a pretty sweet venue.  There are a few options, getting there.

Last week the NFHS published a free webinar on Return to Competition for Scholastic Sports.  Titled “COVID-19 for Coaches and Administrators”, the piece is well done.  It’ll take you half an hour and is has some really useful information.  I recommend putting in your tool box, especially if you are a School Coach.  Being ‘Out Front’, with stuff like this, makes your conversations with administration more productive.  Go to 

Several states have offered local events, camps, clinics.  Others are still completely locked down.  Chicago had their ‘Rooftop’ event.  Austin has a pretty big deal, in a couple of weeks.  Utah is hosting their ‘Western States Championship’ at the end of the month.   Last I heard, there were still a few spots available, in the GRECO-ROMAN tournament.  Freestyle and Folkstyle are filled.  You can find the event on

Hang Tough, Dear Friend !  We’ll find a way.  We always promise parents that Wrestling builds character.  We must celebrate the chance to demonstrate the character it has built for us.  Take care of your family and take care of you.



May 13, 2020




Coaches and Leaders,

Mama always told us, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not really out to get you”.

We just got off our mid-May Zoom meeting (Coaches’ Council).  It was optimistic, upbeat and forward thinking.  We are as excited as you that many states are inching toward basic economic recovery.

The big concern, right now, justifies my opening quote. Our greatest concern, ALL OF WRESTLING’S greatest concern, is to Proceed With Caution.

Let’s be real.  You know ’em and I know ‘em.  There are grown-ups, out there, who are going to push the limits of reason.  “We drive, three hours a day, across the state line, to practice at the Joe Shmoe Wrestling Academy.  Joe was three-time All Neighborhood, you know.  My little Tommy’s gotta’ practice !  He / she’s on track to win his / her fifth World Title.  We simply can’t put this off.  He / she’s gonna’ be NINE, this year,           ya’ know !”

Coach, this is exactly where you and I have to step in.  Calling ourselves ‘Coach’ makes us stewards of the sport, in both the present and the future.  We have to fight off some gut instincts and advise moderation.  As a wrestler, that sucks.  But it’s a necessity.

We can’t think, for a moment that the NCAA or High School Associations aren’t “Really out to get us”.  Don’t take me wrong…  Nobody’s simply targeting wrestling.  But, we can’t paint a target on our back.  If one person, one family, one club does something stupid, we’re all gonna’ pay.

Somehow, we… you… I… have to make sense to these knuckleheads.  If there becomes no such thing as High School or Collegiate Wrestling, what did Tommy’s elementary school resume get you ?  

USA Wrestling is working on “Return to Participation” protocols.  We have, absolutely, the best sports / medical / legal minds in the WORLD on our side.  Look forward to details, on that, within the next few days.

Bite down hard !  What we’re doing is the right thing for the sport that guides us.  Lots of it goes against our grain.  It’s still what’s right.

As you and yours progress towards ‘Re-Opening’, please make it your business to discover the TIGHTEST restrictions that could possibly apply to your practice location.  Follow those.

In your communication with Athletes, Parents, Peers, please TEACH one basic premise:  “Wrestling sustains humanity  We owe it to those, yet unborn, to make sure there is Wrestling.

Love You. Thanx !


April 16, 2020




Coaches and Leaders,

         I hope you are well, during these extraordinary times.   Thank goodness for Wrestling and the lessons it teaches.  We know we’ll get through this.  We know there will be a lot of work to do.  We know the outcome will make all the work worthwhile.  We know we will have some good stories to tell.

         Every good practice plan focuses on preparation and communication.  As we look forward to resuming our wrestling lives, this is especially true.  Whether you are preparing to resume group practices in a local club, high school room or RTC, the same steps of ‘Reasonable and Proper’ call for attention.

         We should start by scratching out a few necessary lists.  Seeing these, on paper, will help us organize our thoughts.  First, list every single category of stakeholder in your situation.  Who provides and who needs what, for or from whom ?

         List the things, routines, ideas your environment has always had in place, with either a plus or minus next to them.  Now, list things, routines, ideas that can realistically be added.  What does each cost… Money ? Time ? Personnel ?  

         With these two lists, side by side, let’s look at creative ways our unique environment can maximize safety and minimize threat.  Consider what each stakeholder looks for in a definition of ‘Safe’.  Remember, there is a very fine line between ‘Promise’ and ‘Threat’.  We’re looking for a broad perspective that allows the most people to reach a cooperative comfort.

         Admit to ourselves that, despite our efforts, a very few will absolutely refuse to join us.  Many of our stakeholders will need time and understanding, as they regrow their personal norms and acceptance of risk.  Make communication a vital tool in the process.

         We have to let our stakeholders be intelligent.  Our foreseeable future depends on much more that keeping our hips up, when we have legs in !  This makes you, Coach, the chief listener to ideas from outside the room.

Start laying the groundwork for meeting with stakeholders and their subgroups.  Even if we don’t know exactly when we’ll get back into the room, everyone needs some lead time to process what’s about to happen. Can the idea of virtual meetings help get started ?  What will your first group meeting (like a lot of people in the same room) look and feel like ?  What will your discussions with administrators, custodial staff, building and locker room co-habitants offer ?  You need to be BOTH, the Coach who has prepared and the active listener.   Prepare for success, then execute.

Here are some stray bullet points, collected in conversation with some of America’s best wrestling thinkers.  Feel free to edit or add.

  • What special talents, skills, knowledge do any of your parents bring ?
  • Who and how many have both the time and willingness to commit ?
  • What new protocols do we add to Arrival and Departure from practice ?
  • Do we check body temperatures ? Who ? When ? How ?  What if ?
  • Do the hygiene procedures we’ve had stand the test ?
  • What hygiene procedures are reasonable to add ?  Cost ? Access ?  Time ?
  • What does our pre and post practice environment offer or take ?
  • Locker rooms ?  Shared with ?  Supervised by ?  Sanitized by ?  How often ?
  • Do athletes and coaches shower, before leaving the facility ?  Where ?
  • How do we mesh SafeSport issues with preventative hygiene ?
  • What are reasonable expectations for “Mandatory Self-Reporting” ?
  • What is the proper frequency of group information ?  Who does that ?
  • What parameters go with individual communication ?  HIPAA ?
  • What outside resources does our unique community offer ?  Access ?

Our individual and collective willingness to prepare for the restart absolutely has the potential to make or break us.  Start working on your own lists and plan.  Hopefully, the time to act will be upon us soon.  Realize that USA Wrestling, its departments and staff, are totally committed to assisting you.  We, your National Coaches Council, are an open conduit for you to communicate.

Hang tough.  Take care of yourself and your family.  Be healthy and excited, when we get that Green Light.  Thanks for being you.

Warm Regards,


March 22, 2020




Coaches and Leaders,

         I hope you are well. In these turbulent times.  It has been several months since I’ve corresponded and I’m feeling a little guilty.  It’s not that I have any big, breaking news.  But, my role as your Representative to the National Coaches’ Council is communication.

         Last October, we voted as a Council, to develop and publish a Quarterly National Newsletter.  Unfortunately, that has become more process than product.  Rather than get bogged down in that, I simply want to maintain the Southern Plains tradition of informed unity.

         Clearly, the biggest bite, on our plate, is the impact of COVID 19.  The Wrestling specific impacts are both short and mid-term.  In our immediate future, we’re all coping with suspension of competition.  Affecting us all, in the mid-term, is maintaining both physical and psychological preparedness.

         Our craft sways us toward optimism.  As such, we believe the crisis will ease and we will resume competitive events.  Meanwhile, the vast majority are not able to get into traditional training environments. Helping athletes, of all ages, create structure and method will be a pretty neat trick.

         The National Coaches Council met, my conference call, last week.  Collectively, we are working to explore and offer alternatives.  Our National Staff, specifically Coach Education is developing practical methods of delivery.

         One exciting development is the Team USA Coaching App.  I know there have been a couple of hiccups with some Android devices, but for the most part, it works well.  Follow these simple steps.   Step 1:  Download the free app,  “Team USA Mobile Coach App”  .  

Step 2:  Click the three dashes in the upper right to open the options menu and    click “add account” (enter your USA Wrestling ID). Select “USA Wrestling”.

         Each of the 12 members of the Council, along with our three liaisons, have been tasked with and sharing best practices, and devising new ones, that meets athlete needs in a very restrictive environment.  Look forward to some practical and creative suggestions.          

With what we know, today, our Regional Championship in Dodge City has not been in the cross-hairs. Obviously, with daily, sometimes hourly, changes nothing is carved in stone.  That said, we as Coaches bear the responsibility of helping athletes and families cling to any sense of normality.  It is the Wrestling mind-set to look for a brighter tomorrow.

         Thanx for your part in that !  You mean a lot to a lot of people.  The way your carry and present yourself guides kids, as they gain skills and attitudes to cope with life’s challenges.

         We still hope to start getting a National Newsletter out.  With, or without, that, I will communicate a little more often.  If something big affects the Southern Plains, I’ll get it to you immediately.  If you have poignant questions… or just need to blow off a little steam, I’m here.

         Speaking of “Here”, I have a NEW EMAIL ADDRESS.  My old ‘7cities’ provider tanked.  Please add me to your contacts as

Warm Regards to you and yours,






Coaches and Leaders,

Happy New Year !  I hope you had a wonderful holiday season with your families, and that the wrestling part of your life is rolling along.

I know I’ve been silent for a while.  My apologies.  Your Coaches Council HAS been active but, since September, we’ve been in a bit of a reconfiguration mode.  It’s going well and we’re getting stronger.  Our new Staff Liaison is Mike Clayton, Manager of Coach Education.  Mike brings some fresh ideas, a passion for development, and a true commitment to Coaching excellence to our group !  

One of our successes is that we are transitioning to a Quarterly NATIONAL Newsletter.  Look for the inaugural edition , late January / early February.  This newsletter will echo much of what I provide our Region.  Most of what we discuss is fair game for ALL Coaches, nationwide.

This does not mean I’ll stop communicating directly with Southern Plains constituents.  Occasionally, there are issues, policies, concerns that affect us, specifically.  There are times when our laundry doesn’t need to blow off the line, into the neighbors’ yards.  (For you young people… you can actually hang laundry outdoors and it will dry !)  Representation, for Developmental Coaching, is by Regional selection.  I will always make the Southern Plains my priority.

Last Fall, much of our Council business agenda involved input and feedback, to our National Teams Staff.  The big topic was ‘Redefining roles and parameters for Regional Training Centers.  In our ever-tenuous relationship with the NCAA, it is imperative that USAW can demonstrate a clear distinction between the RTC and the Local Club.  One is open to everyone, the other serves projected World and Olympic competitors, in collaboration with University programs.   Equity and ethics guide this pathway.

We also continue to engage in accommodating the selection and preparation for Age Group Continental and World Championship competition.  This conversation is broad, with multiple components.  Far from perfected, I believe you’ll keep seeing significant improvement in process, through the next quadrennium.

Personally, I’ve been fascinated and entertained by the NFHS and several states’ reaction to the growth and legitimacy of Girls High School Wrestling.  The bulk of the 2019 – 2020 Rules Presentation was dedicated to what kids are wearing !  What does it say, about a room full of predominantly male, predominantly middle-aged ‘Leaders’ in Sport, when they devote their attention to “Under-Garments” ?

In 1989, UWW (then FILA) figured out that men and women can accomplish Medical Check and Weigh In, in the same room, under public scrutiny, by wearing a legal competition Singlet.  Add an appropriate sports bra and you go, Straps Down… Skin Check, Straps up… weigh in.  Oh, yeah… like we do for 5,000 teenagers, in Fargo.

Please try to push your local and state Association Leaders into the 21st century.  Please help show the few, leftover sexual bigots the door.  Scholastic Wrestling is moving on… and right now… girls are rowing the boat !

I hope your scholastic season is going well and wish you the best, through January’s grind.  Look for that National Newsletter, in a few weeks.  I’ll get back with you, regionally, as the transition to the Olympic styles grows close.

Thanx for what you do and HOW you do it.


2019 USAW Silver Coaches Clinics

Option 1 of 2

Silver College, June 5-7, Ewing NJ (before the June 8 Final X Trials at Rutgers)

Coaches must be USA Wrestling – Wrestling Leader Members

Coaches must be either Copper or Bronze Certified (both are required as a part of full Silver)
Cost $350 (includes clinic fee, gift, and coaches social). 

Sign up at – select “USAW Events” and “Camp Registration”

First 50 to sign up and pay will be accepted.

Email Mike for info at


Option 2 of 2

Silver College, Aug 10-13, USOTC Colorado Springs CO (before the Aug 14 State Leader’s Summit)

Coaches must be USA Wrestling – Wrestling Leader Members

Coaches must be either Copper or Bronze Certified (both are required as a part of full Silver)


*Each state association has one (1) guaranteed spot in the clinic.

State Chairs, or their designated representative, can approve one (1) coach by emailing Mike Clayton the coach’s name and USAW ID.

If you have more than one coach that would like to attend, please rank those interested in attending by priority and we will 
offer as many spots as are available on a first come, first serve status.  

States can pay for the coach’s attendance or the coach can pay directly (depending on state policy).


Cost of the clinic this year is $350 and covers the clinic, room and board, all sessions video, a gift, and a coaches social. 

Email Mike for info at

Please call/email us if you have any questions

Thanks for supporting your National Coaches Education Program!  


Mike Clayton

Manager, National Coaches Education Program (NCEP)

USA Wrestling

6155 Lehman Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918

USA Wrestling Main: 719.598.8181
Mike Direct: 719.265.3631

Cell: 862.754.2743

Twitter: @ClaytonUSAW

USA Wrestling Educational Resources

"On the opposite side of fear is a love of learning. Fear is fertilizer to future growth.

Embrace it and quit wasting time mulling around in your comfort zone."

-Brett Bartholomew, TeamEXOS





Coaches and Leaders,

            Wow !  The National Open was awesome !  We got to see excellence at every weight in every division. Congratulations, and Thank You, to all Southern Plains Athletes, Coaches, Referees and Families.  Our Region had a great week.

            I enjoyed watching many of the nation’s great coaches manage strategy and tactic for great athletes. This was especially true at both the Senior and UWW Junior levels.  Unfortunately, I also watched some unnecessary friction, that I thought may have cost some great athletes at least a moment of focus.  At this level of competition, the loss of even a few seconds of focus can make the difference in outcome.

            We have got to Make the Passivity Structure a Part of Our Offense.  Our most successful coaches are fully in touch with the huge difference between Passivity, in the Olympic Styles, and Stalling, in Folkstyle.

            There are a thousand and one scenarios we can paint.  But, we have to start with the    Zero – Zero one.  Truthfully, we don’t see this much, at the Juniors level and below.  Based on that, I encourage Southern Plains Referees to relax a little and let scoring play itself out.

            I balance that with asking Coaches to identify with the perceived pressure each referee is feeling, as the match progresses.  Bottom line = When there’s no scoring, SOMEBODY has to go on the clock before the One Minute Left mark.  What’s worse is, it takes more than a minute to “Set Up” the call that puts one athlete on the Activity Clock.

            If it’s Zero – Zero, there’s a pretty good chance that BOTH athletes APPEAR passive.  There’s also a pretty good chance your referee may not recognize the intricacies of your “Set Ups”.  If they come after your kid, it may in fact be a compliment… they may be putting you in a position to score last.  If they’re right, their right.  If they’re wrong, they’re wrong.  It’s your job to package the situation for your athlete’s BENEFIT.

            If you get all wound up, acting like even the suggestion that your kid might be passive is an assault on their heritage and yours… think about how your kid interprets your confidence in them.  If you take it in stride ( having practiced it ), and offer your athlete valuable, usable, technical advice, from the corner, their confidence and focus are likely to win out.

            As I mentioned, Passivity is increasingly rare at the age group levels.  That is exactly why the Cadet Period is Two Minutes.  But, you want to talk about Tough Timing… refereeing a low-scoring / no – scoring Cadet match is a nightmare.  Most referees build their protocol around Three- Minute Periods.

            Information is Power, and Communication is the best part of what we offer these fierce competitors. PLEASE, make unpredictable Passivity Calls a component in the Adversity you subject your Champions to, in Practice.

            Enjoy the Final Qualifier, coming up soon.  Get ready to enjoy a magnificent Final X Series.  I will get you something, in preparation for Mulvane, sometime in late May. I look forward to visiting with you, there.  Realize that what you do, every day, is Appreciated.  RD

APRIL, 2019




Coaches and Leaders,

            I hope you February was everything it could be, and that you enjoyed the wonders of March.  It’s pretty cool to have a native Southern Plains Kid win the Hodge Award.  Congrats and Thanx to All the other Southern Plains kids, men and women who made us proud in March.

            I’m sure you’ve kicked off your local Spring Season, in the Olympic Styles.  One of the things I’ve attached is a brief synopsis of rules, provided by Coach Mayabb.  If you already have it, great.  I just wanted to make sure.

            The BIG DEALI wanted to get to you is about Beach Wrestling. Look for an article, on, this week.  There are some great opportunities for athletes in this rapidly developing style. 

            This October, the United States will host the ANOC World Beach Games, in San Diego.  Beach Wrestling will be center stage.  As host, the U.S. is entitled to full representation, meaning Four Women and Four Men.  This event is designed for Seniors, but athletes born as late as 2001 may qualify and compete with Medical Release.

            A special Qualifier, just for Women, is scheduled for the Sunday after the FS finals, in Vegas. Have your women jump on this opportunity !  If you’re driving, it’ll be easy.  If you’ve already booked airline tickets, it may cost you a few bucks to delay departure. Should be done early afternoon.

            The Men’s Qualifier, along with a Womens’ Last Chance, will be in Carolina Beach, NC, 

May 17 – 19.  You can fly into Wilmington and be there, or fly into Raleigh/Durham and drive three hours. The Seniors, in this event can qualify for San Diego, but there are also Age Group Qualifiers.

            The Cadet and Juniors World Championship will be in Odessa, Ukraine, August 9 - 11.

This is in conjunction with the Third Leg of this year’s Beach Wrestling World Series.

            The second leg of the World Series is coming up soon…  Rio de Janeiro, May 10-11.  Airline tickets are pretty affordable, but the Visa takes some time. 

            As an interesting aside, FloWrestling has the broadcast rights to UWW’s Beach world Series.  In an effort to encourage US participation (rumor has it) that Flo will send Reece Humphrey to the Pan Am event in Rio.  I’m a simple guy but, if it’s good enough for an athlete of Humphrey’s caliber, it’s good enough for Southern Plains athletes. Think about it !

            Since Christmas, you National Coaches Council have spent quite a bit of our time developing Separation Procedures for the U15 age group.  We’ve been successful and we’ll qualify a U15 World Team, this weekend, in Omaha.

            We have a Face-to-Face Coaches Council meeting during the Open, in Vegas.  If you have something… anything… on your mind, please get it to me. I’ll make sure it gets addressed.

            As we prepare for our Regional Championship, in Mulvane, I’ll get you what I learn and ask for your input.  I look forward to seeing a great many of you in Vegas.

            On a very sad final note, the Southern Plains lost a Great one, today.  Please Keep Mo Babi’s Family, in Colorado, in your thoughts and prayers.

Respectfully Yours,


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

Congratulations - Jonathon Gurule - Greco All-American

Congratulations Jonathon Gurule - Greco All-American

August 15, 2018




Coaches and Leaders,

    We just finished the State Leaders’ Summit, in Colorado Springs.  I’m happy to report that the entire Summit was upbeat and productive.  

    I’m proud to say that much of the success was infused and supported by the collective voice of our nation’s coaches.  Obviously, I’m proud of our efforts in the Southern Plains.  But, this congratulations goes out, nation-wide.

    We distributed our seven-question Survey to 839 coaches, all of whom were present in Fargo.  We got responses from 413 coaches.  From what I’ve been told, any survey is happy to get a 10 % response rate.  We got right at 50 %.  

    Our presentation of your input made it easy for State Leaders and the JOWC to support us.  We demonstrated, clearly, that the Coaches of USAW are engaged and active in the decision-making that affects our athletes.

    At Regional and National Championships, Cadets will wrestle consistent two minute periods.  Juniors will wrestle consistent three minute periods.

    The Video Challenge has met with overwhelming positive response.  The Leaders decided to maintain the Challenge, throughout the Fargo experience.  They also cleaned up some minor inconsistencies, regarding use of the Video Challenge in our National Duals.

    At this writing, it’s likely the Challenge will only be used in Duals Finals.  It should be noted that most support growing the use of the Challenge to include ALL matches, in National Duals.  The Challenge may also grow into use at Regional Championships, as logistics permit.

    I’m also happy to report that we are already working with Coach Clayton, USAW Coach Education, to include a professional growth component in all our Coach Ed elements about the philosophy and execution of the Video Challenge.

    I’m attaching the Tentative National Schedule for 2018 – 2019.  Expect some minor adjustments and/or additions, but this will at least help you pencil in your plans.

    Join me in welcoming Maryland Coach, Kerry McCoy to the Pool side of our Coaches Council.  Kerry will serve, in the interim, filling the loss of Coach Duroe.  Kerry is a quality guy who contributes to the mission of USAW in myriad ways.

    Look for us to dominate the Pan Am Juniors, this weekend.  In a few short weeks, we will test our best up and comers at the Junior Worlds.   

I plan to touch base with you, towards the end of September.  At that point, we’ll be gearing up for the Senior World Championships, as well as the Folkstyle pre-season.

Our new membership year kicks off September 1st.  You will notice some user-friendly improvements.  Make sure you re-up your membership early.

Best Regards,  Rusty







Coaches and Leaders,

    Really, this has to start with, “Thank You” and “Congratulations”.  If you were part of the ‘Fargo Experience’, I know you’re exhausted.  One Coach sent out a YouTube clip of Forrest Gump finishing his ‘Long Run’.  “I’m pretty tired… Think I’ll go home now”.  This is so absolutely Spot On !  Thanx to the person, clever enough to send it out.

    Putting just a hint of serious to that, you need to be taking care of your personal health !  Fargo demands that you produce an extreme quantity of cortisol, over an extended period.  All the while, you stay hyper-vigilant and sleep deprived.  

When that cortisol drops off, your immune system tanks.  Please support your recovery with some version of ‘Airborne’, ‘Emergen C’, or similar product.  Give yourself permission to nap.  Thank your family for their patience, as you slowly re-grow a personality.

What a magnificent success we participated in, this year.  We had record numbers, and fabulous wrestling action !  Watching examples, in the consolation side… many four-minute matches producing over 30 points, was evidence that the basis of our current rule structure is athlete friendly.

Everyone’s question, going in, was the use of the Video Challenge.  Wow !  What luck this experiment proved to be.  I know there are extreme exceptions.  BUT, using the Blocks was an overwhelming success.  I get the privilege of listening to both Coaches and Referees, and the message was the same, “Using the Challenge neutralized much of the emotion that has caused friction, in our past”.  Both Coach and Referee kept their communication professional, logical, and specific to the situation at hand.  Having a Neutral Third Party evaluate the situation gave us one more level of ‘Customer Service’ to our Athletes and Parents.

Continuing to develop the use of the Video Challenge is certainly part of our Continuing Coach Education curriculum.  It is also one of several topics for the upcoming State Leaders Summit, August 9 – 11, in Colorado Springs.  Please, if you have constructive input, whether about Fargo, our Regional Championship Series, Final X, or anything else for the good… communicate with your State Chair.  The collective voice of USAW’s grassroots Coaches is vital to our ongoing success.

Speaking of voice… please expect a Survey Monkey Instrument, in your email, in the next few days.  This is us, the Council, finding consensus, so that we can help our State Leaders make data-informed decisions.  The survey is, predominantly, in regards to the Fargo experience.  Its results, however, may touch other pieces of total menu of Regional and National events.  Please take the three to five minutes to respond.

I’ll get you an update, after the Summit.  Then it will be time for us to start getting pumped for the Junior, Senior, Grappling and Beach World Championships.  Thank You, once more, for a great National Championship experience.                                  Rusty

Dirty Bird Camp





Coaches and Leaders,

    As we all prepare for our journey to Fargo, I have a couple of last-minute housekeeping items that need to be shared.   They deal with Referee Challenges, Medical Checks, and Meetings.

    Sadly, first things first.  As you know, the Wrestling Family has recently lost some great ones.  Thank you to Mike Juby, Randy Hinderliter, and others, who so generously and sensitively helped us say goodbye to Chuck Elvin.  Every single one of us, in the Southern Plains, owe something to the legacy of Chuck and his family.  He, Cheri, ad their kids carved the model of what it means to be a “Wrestling Family”.  Each of them carried out their individual role, making every club… every event… a more functional, efficient, pleasant experience for all.  I suggest, the best way to honor Chuck, Cheri and their family is for each of us to carry out our individual role in creating a better experience for those around us.  We can start in Fargo.

  This week, Wrestling lost Mike Duroe.  Mike was a Happy man.  We need to find happiness, telling his story.  Coach Duroe was a Class Act, just like the Elvins.  Mike was absolutely consumed with the notion of “Doing What’s Right”.  His advocacy for the development of Womens’ Wrestling is a prime example.  His consistent efforts in strengthening relationships made itself evident in everything Mike touched.  Coach Duroe fought a hard fight, the last nine months.  He fought it the way it should be fought.  He left us with a smile.  We should smile back.

On a happier note, CONGRATULATIONS to our Cadets for their break-out performance in Croatia.  Thanx to our Volunteer Coaches, for their part in that success.


    As week pack up, ready to get there, please do your part, whatever role you play, in PROACTIVE SKIN CHECKS.  Kids from a variety of environments, who have been in camp, under stress, are prone to emergent and recurring outbreaks.  Knowledge is power.  If you don’t have access to health care professionals, WELL-VERSED in skin disorders common to combative sports, let me suggest an APP, “MATDOC”, or it’s website

    I am at every weigh in, stationed near the medical team.  I am their to listen and facilitate what are always very difficult discussions.  They all have to do with an athlete being told why they cannot compete.  I hate it !  Please communicate with athletes, parents, and your own health care professionals, BEFORE you travel.  An ounce of prevention keeps ‘em in the tournament.  A pound of cure is always too late !

    It has been decided that EVERY BOUT, in Fargo, will be subject to VIDEO REVIEW.  That means you will start every match with a Challenge Block.  If this is something you don’t have a lot of experience with, DISCUSS it with your Coaching Staff and HAVE A PLAN.  

Communicate, clearly, with all you stakeholders, about how this system works.  Athletes, Assistant Coaches and PARENTS need to be fully aware what’s at stake… If you DO… or If you DON’T… throw in the block.  Rehearse, with your athletes, the How’s and the When’s and the Why’s.  Make sure every stakeholder sleeps that night.

Using Video Review will seriously LIMIT your approaching the Chair to ask questions.  Make sure one of the Coaches, in the corner, knows what the whistle and the judge called.   Know the situations with Verbal Warnings, Passivity and Negative Wrestling Calls.  If the score is tied, MAKE SURE you know who has criteria.  This is one place where it’s OK to ask the Chair for help, quickly, and at the appropriate time.

There is, invariably, a lot of discussion about how to improve the “Fargo” experience.  This year, one would hypothesize, the discussion will include PERIOD LENGTHS.   Our job, as your National Coaches Council, is to listen actively, arrive at consensus, and carry your ideas forward.

There will be TWO NATIONAL COACHES COUNCIL MEETINGS.  The first is SUNDAY evening at 8:30, the second WEDNESDAY evening at 9:00.  While all are welcome, you get THREE active voices per state.  Everyone is exhausted at those times.  But, it is what it is.  The Professional part of our Volunteer effort is to show up and speak up.  As the second largest membership group in USAW, our voice is critical.

As always, THANX for your hard work.  Travel Safely.  Best wishes to ALL.  If you need to chat, the easiest place to find me is at Weigh Ins.


JUNE 2018




Coaches and Leaders,

​I know many of you have been really busy with the Age Group Duals.  I need to squeeze this update in, so you have time to consider some of the issues that will be on our plate in Fargo.

​First, THANK YOU to you and yours for a great Southern Plains Championship.  We are so lucky to be around our region’s kids.  The down-home, old-fashioned toughness makes our region shine.  I know you play a huge role in managing and directing that toughness.  Thank You !

​As always, Thanks to Kansas, for all the hard work and preparation.  We have all profited from not having to worry about tournament administration.  Our State Leaders confirmed that, at the Sunday morning meeting, by awarding the next three-year bid to Kansas.  

​I know there are states, in our region, that are anxious to host.  Many of our states are rich in volunteers and resources.  Please don’t think that the rest of us don’t recognize and appreciate your strengths.  We do.  We’re currently in a routine that’s simply too good to move from.  It’s definitely notbroken… no need to fix it.

​Other agenda items, at our Region Meeting, are worthy of your attention, thought and discussion.  Most of these will come up in Fargo’s meetings.  Some will go on, for consideration at the State Leader Summit, in August.

​Believe me, I know how exhausted we all get, during the competition sessions in Fargo.  I’m asking you to ‘gut it out’ and get to the meetings your state leader needs you at.  A few of these issues have strong impact on us and our kids.  It’s critical that you show up and voice a well-thought opinion.

​Here’s a nutshell of the issues discussed at the Sunday morning meeting:

• Two-Piece Uniform.  Our region leaders do NOT support this option.  That said, this is NOT our ‘Hill to Die On’.  There are people in the administrative areas of the sport, whether it’s us, or High School, or College.  These people get paid to help us MARKET our presentation.  You and I know, full-well, we can adjust to whatever uniform is being worn.

• SafeSport and Membership.  This is a pretty big deal.  EVERY member of USAW, over the age of 18, needs to complete this training.  If you are in the middle of a Two-Year Membership, and have not completed SafeSport, COMPLETE IT NOW !  Things are moving fast.  It is my understanding that your membership may be purged July 1st.  Take the course and print your results.

• Same Day Weigh Ins at Regional Championship.  Another Hill not to Die On.  The argument over night-before or same day weigh ins is not new.  It will not go away.  Fortunately, our modern coaches are far more educated in proper nutrition, hydration and weight management. 

• Period Length at Regional and National Championships.  This one seems to be the fight !  This year, as you well know, Back-Side matches at USAW Regional and National Cadets and Juniors have been reduced to Two Minute Periods.  Our Region Leaders are split on this.  Eight  votedin support of the practice.  Ten voted against.  This is going to be a hot topic.  Be prepared.


• Election of National Council Chairs.  This even-numbered year is when Chairs are elected.  Again, please check with your State Chair about which Council Meetings you need to attend, in Fargo.


I want to get back to the PERIOD LENGTH discussion, before I let you go.  Many of our finest have been participants in the Cadet and Junior Duals.  As we prepare for Fargo, I’m asking you to re-emphasize the change in Period Length, in the back side.

I’m telling you, straight up, it’s really difficult for referees to make the adjustment between three-minute and two-minute periods.  And, yet, the rule says they HAVE TO get someone on the clock (Freestyle).  Short periods equally box in referees in Greco.

The point is, we’re going to see some calls feeling forced or hurried.  We must expose our kids to this pressure, during hot goes, between now and Fargo.

I, for one, will be anxious to see the statistical analysis of initial scoring maneuvers.  I think it’s a decent hypothesis that a significant number of initial scores (Both Styles) occur during the second minute.  If this has any credibility, the conversation about shortening periods, in the back side, demands more attention.

Enjoy the Final X finale.  Thanx for all your efforts !



MID - MAY 2018




Coaches & Leaders

    As we prepare for our Southern Plains Regional Championship, there are some simple protocol things that bear reminder.  I got to help conduct a Bronze Clinic, last weekend, in conjunction with our State Championship.

    Much of what’s coming is so simplistic, you’re likely to think, “Come on, dude, everyone knows that”.  Well, I thought so, too, and I learned a lot !

    You see, “Coaching” at the Regional level is not what it once was.  There was a time when each state named a handful of coaches to conduct a training camp, ride the bus, and be on the floor with a state full of athletes.

    Today, many parents sit in the corner with their own kid, while the state designated coaches run warm ups and do paperwork.  The event director issues floor passes, based on an equitable ratio.  But, they also sell floor passes to any Bronze (or higher) Certified current member.  I’m not saying Good, or Bad !  But, a little review of “How it Works”, outside the local event, may save some us some heartache.

Three-Person Mechanics

    I’m not sure what all of you see, locally.  I know some SP States are Referee Rich, while others (like mine) struggle to get one person on each mat.  At the Dodge City event, we will have referees from all over the country (It’s that popular and that well run).  Each mat has a designated person in charge.  Each bout has three officials:  Whistle, Judge, Chair.

    Chirping at the Whistle is barking at the moon.  Same with the Judge.  They cannot help you.  In fact, if you get them rattled enough they can hurt someone !  The Chair is responsible for precise application of rules.  “Precise” means BOTH athletes got equal access to all that whatever rule had to offer.  Not every rule offers the same opportunity… Ponder that !

    If something’s badly wrong, approach the Chair and wait for a break in the action.  ASK  a QUESTION.  Listen to the answer.  Don’t catch yourself thinking it’s a debate.  It doesn’t matter how smart, or experienced, you are.  If the Chair feels like there’s something wrong, they can ASK.  They cannot, however, gun down two other humans that agree on what they saw.  Now’s a chance for you to practice that “Overcoming Adversity”, we all brag about.

    I have, honestly, never met the human that will drive a thousand miles, to eat free food and cheat a kid !  You have three humans evaluating a violent conflict between two other humans.  Mistakes get made.  This is not Good Ole’ Ed, down at the barber shop, who knows Billy is Three Time All-Neighborhood.  These people study hard and do the best they can do.  Rub some dirt on it… and move forward !


    The Southern Plains remains the ONLY Regional Championship that uses the term, “Recommended”, regarding Red and Blue singlets.  This effort has been debated for 30 years.  The Region’s leaders deserve to be proud of that effort, on behalf of those few economically disadvantaged families borrowing school singlets.

    Then, there are others who have some vast collection of designer singlets.  OK.  But, let’s all agree on a couple of things that do not have wiggle room.

    It has to be a Singlet.  There is discussion about adopting a two-piece uniform, similar to what the NFHS rules did.  Not yet !

    Some athletes are wearing a Leg Sleeve, with built in knee pad.  These, like two-legged tights, are NOT LEGAL.  The exception would be an athlete who presents legitimate medical documentation.

    Headgear is MANDATORY for all athletes, Schoolboy/girl and younger.  Shoelaces must be visibly secured, beyond double-knotting.  CARRY A ROLL OF TAPE in your pocket.  If the shoes don’t have velcro or zippers, tape ‘em.  


    Get parents to help monitor the tournament flow, on Track Wrestling.  Athletes will not be allowed on the floor, before they are on deck.  But, SOMEONE needs to know where they are.  In that rare occasion, the athlete will get THREE calls to the mat, timed 30 seconds apart.  After that, the match WILL be forfeited.  Being in a Regional Championship is new to many of our families.  Please help prevent these hear-breaking accidents !

Once at the mat, athletes need to say their FIRST and LAST NAMES to the Computer Operator.  If necessary, the operator may change the color assigned to the athletes.  Upon reporting to the center of the mat, athletes will be greeted by the referee with a hand shake.  

The referee is required to visibly “check” each athlete for oily substance.  This seems old-fashioned, but it’s still part of the protocol.  Please explain to parents why “That guy is touching their kid”.

At the Developing Age Groups, the expectation is that athletes will exchange a good, old-fashioned Hand Shake, prior to starting the bout.  Please help kids understand how important this is to the presentation of our sport to spectators.

Same at the end of the bout.  In addition, please advise both Athletes and Parents that BOTH Winner and Loser stay with the referee for the entire end of match procedure.  This is different from Folkstyle, where the loser is released.

While not required, is has become custom for athletes to visit, and shake hands with, both Judge and Chair.  The winner needs to repeat their name to the computer operator.  We also encourage athletes to visit the opposing coach.  This all being said… If a kid is losing control, and about to embarrass themselves… let ‘em go.  You can visit with officials and opposing coach, on their behalf.  Let’s not make a bad situation worse, trying to corral an emotional oops with grown up logic.  We can address it, in private, and get it fixed.


    Periods for everyone, up to and including Schoolboy/girl, are Two Minutes.  Cadets and Juniors wrestle Three Minute periods ON THE FRONT SIDE.  Please remind athletes and parents…  This year, Cadets and Juniors wrestle TWO MINUTES on the BACK SIDE.


    We are fortunate, in Dodge City, that we compete in a fabulous venue.  That venue comes with its own staff and union rules.  Do not get shocked when they ask you to WAIT for the scheduled time of admission to the arena and floor.  Prepare your athletes, so that their warm up flows, despite all the regulations.  Pick your battles !  (My personal battle is NO OUTSIDE COFFEE ALLOWED).  Drink up !


    Here is one more important task for your State Assigned Coaches.  The Southern Plains gives a set of unique awards… one per state.  The Bob Cairns / David Stormo Award is given, annually, to an athlete from each state.  The award recognizes character and contribution, more than achievement.  As you go through your training climate and the trip to Dodge City, keep an eye out for “That Kid”.


    Two important meetings happen Sunday Morning, in Dodge City.  State leaders meet at 

Inn Pancake House, 2408 West Wyatt Earp Boulevard, at 7:00am.  Agenda items include:  Person of the Year Awards in three categories; Bids to HOST the Southern Plains; Discussion about PERIOD LENGTHS; Preparation for Nominations in Fargo; Possibilities for TWO PIECE uniforms; Further implementation of SafeSport standards.

    The second meeting, in a conference room at the venue, is specifically for COACHES.  Starting at 8:45am, the meeting will be quick, but vital to communication.  Your National Coaches’ Council depends on your input and feedback to guide discussion on issues like those before the State Leaders.  Please take time to get one or more of your state’s coaches there.

     As always, I need to say, “Thank You” !  The time and energy you pump into the sport makes a huge impact on the lives of young people.  Please congratulate the 2018 Graduates that are part of your clubs and schools.

Safe Travels !          Rusty

MAY 2018




Coaches & Leaders

    With a successful series of events completed, in Las Vegas, we move into a hectic month of May.  Congratulations to all participants in the Las Vegas tournaments.  Sincere Thanks are due to the organizers and countless volunteers who made such a huge series of events work.

    Your National Coaches Council did meet, face to face, in Vegas.  We followed up on several issues from our recent conference calls.  Below, find a summary of our discussion, including:

  • Rules Implementation, as observed in Vegas
  • SafeSport…  role and impact
  • Final X Series and GR Trials
  • Upcoming Regional Meetings
  • Crisis in High School Association Limitations
  • “Fargo” and Beyond


Yes, we saw “Negative” Wrestling and Passivity called, extremely tightly.  No, it did not seem to dominate or distract.  In fact, by the time we reached medals and finals, the calls were barely noticeable.  

What was noticeable was a very exciting, active, beautiful wrestling.  Clearly, the impact on Greco was more noticeable than in Freestyle.  Watching the Greco Senior Finals, we saw, maybe, more total points than our last 10 years, combined.  Fans loved it !

The other big thing, that was noticeable, was the Team Work between our National Coaching Staff and Refereeing.  Representatives from the Staff (especially Greco) spoke at every meeting, encouraging officials to “Be brave and Stay tough”.  I saw a wonderful, confident relationship grow quickly.  I believe, in my heart, our athletes pick up on things like that… and appreciate having one less thing to worry about.

Let this be true, in our several states.  The big picture is Maintaining Wrestling’s Position in the Olympic Games.  Kids and parents deserve to know they are part of that big picture, and that their volunteer Referees and Coaches work together to promote it.


    We used to urge our Cadets to, “Wrestle like the Seniors”.  Today, we are urging our Seniors to , “Wrestle like the Cadets”.  It’s absolutely necessary for our developing athletes to know what the rules are and how they’re being applied, AT HIGH LEVEL COMPETITIONS.

    However, that is NOT an excuse for us to beat up six-year-olds with Negativity of Passivity calls, at our local events.  Coach and Ref, this is to Both of you:  Keep ‘em safe, teach ‘em simple, quality technique, and smile while you watch ‘em compete.  We can show off how much we “know” about the rules, when they’re old enough to buy us beers ! 


    Discussion, at the Coaches council level, and beyond, continues.  SafeSport, and the philosophy behind its inception, are not going away.  In fact, it is clear that ALL youth sports organizations will soon be subject to the same requirements we are, as USAW licensed Coaches.  Celebrate that USA Wrestling got out in front of this critical aspect of Coaching, FIRST !


    The question is, “How will this event design impact future Qualifying Procedures ?”.  The answer is, “We’ll see”.  As we prepare for an exciting June… whatever your vantage point, keep an open mind.  Our Staff and Leadership are doing just that !

    Consider:  The time to experiment is in the middle of the quadrennium;  The 2018 World Championship is scheduled late, giving us time to adjust the periodization of training for each athlete affected;  We will be able to compare results, as Greco-Roman athletes follow a more traditional qualifying schedule;  The location of the Final X events, potentially, draw and reward traditionally strong collegiate audiences.

    Our National Coaching and Events staff will evaluate each year’s schedule demands, putting athlete needs first.  With the data we gain from 2018’s experiment, we can better serve all stake-holders.


    Staff and Leadership find themselves in increasing need of our responsible input.  There are thirty thousand of us, up close and personal with athletes of all ages.  Your National coaches Council, Executive Committee is asking all Regions to host a quick Coaches Meeting, during their Regional Championship.

    I’m asking Tournament Director Juby to schedule us a 20 – 30 minute window, SUNDAY MORNING, immediately prior to competition.  This will be IN ADDITION to my Coaches Council Report to State Leaders, at that morning’s earlier meeting.

    Please chew on various issues, including the following two.  Be prepared to offer concise opinions and suggestions that can actually be formatted into Action Plans.  With the time we have, it’s important to focus on Planning and not make this a Bitch Session !


    Every state has been impacted, by its High School Association, in access to safe facilities and the eligibility of qualified, licensed personnel to supervise Wrestling Practice and Competition, safely.  Missouri has recently fallen victim to a particularly outrageous set of restrictions.

    Haven spoken, candidly, with my own HS Association representative, I am confident that these restrictions are not intentionally pointed at hurting Wrestling, in its Olympic Style Development.  In fact the problem lies in another sport… one that involves a Ball… (LaVar BALL ring a bell ?).  High School Associations are desperate to control abuses in that sport.  

    When they draft legislation, they cannot be sport-specific.  They must act across the board.  Unfortunately, while that sport can be safely supervised by pretty much anyone, Olympic sports, like Swimming and Wrestling, require very specific training for responsible supervision.

    Ironically, these new restrictions deny opportunity to Female Wrestlers most.  As Collegiate Women’s Wrestling competes in Freestyle, our female High School athletes depend on both their High School Association and USAW to provide adequate opportunity for them to continue their education, compete at the Collegiate level, and pursue financial assistance.

    Your National Coaches Council is on this.  We are asking USAW to make the assault on Spring and Summer Wrestling a top priority.  What we need each of you to do is:  Make yourself aware of the exact provisions / limitations your state has in place;  Create responsible relationships and dialogue with your High School Association; Don’t do stupid things that give them excuses to make it harder on the rest of us.


    You know that your National Coaches Council has voiced your concerns about quantity and quality scheduling… a couple of times now.  Discussion continues.  At our meeting, in Las Vegas, we spent an hour cussing and discussing this monster called “Fargo”.  We are all aware of the strategies of other “Organizations” to present alternative training and competitive events.  The Coaches in the room, in Vegas, agree 100% that we must be proactive to head off some crisis in the near future.

    What we need from you is, as always, communication.  Start in small groups, at your local events.  Boil things down to some strategies you agree will maximize benefits to athletes and minimize financial expense for families and emotional / physical expense for kids.  

    Straight up…  The members of the Council believe we need to breathe new life into Regional events, making them the terminal outing for a majority of developing athletes.  This protects perceived “Market Share”, trophy chances, and revenue stream for USAW and its State Associations.

    Consolidate ideas that are good for your kids and your area.  Bring those to the quick meeting in Dodge City.  Consolidate some more, while you’re there, and send great ideas to Fargo.  We will work together, there, to offer sound suggestions at the State Leaders’ Summit, in August.

Thanx for All You Do !          Rusty

APRIL 4, 2018




Coaches and Leaders,

    Thinkin’ about goin’ to Vegas !  I know this applies to some of us, not all of us.  The National Open and all its satellite events will draw many of us together.  It’s going to give us all a chance to “Feel” 2018’s Freestyle and Greco Rules applications and see how we are listening to them across regions.  As always, when I talk about Rules application, I start with “DON’T PANIC”.

    But… it is Vegas… and it brings out the gambler in many of us.  Always hit on 15, but never hit on a hard 16.  You have to split Aces.  Realize that the Roulette Table is NOT there for you to make money.  Betting the Six and Eight has some value.  Betting the Hard six and Hard Eight is giving money away.

    Oh, wait.  I was talking about wrestling.   Ironically, the analogies hold true.  You and your kids need to be prepared to put chips on the table, when you try to anticipate how officiating is going to react to Rule Change or Modification.  Play to win !

    The new terminology, that’s got everyone’s attention, is “Negative Wrestling”.  I think I was wrong, in last month’s update, when I suggested that Negative Wrestling might be synonymous with Passivity.  They are Two Different concepts !

    Since my last, there has been a Rules Update video released, including refinements to be implemented globally by April 2.  As always, USA’s Zach Errett does a magnificent job simplifying the concepts.  Please do three things:  One, track it down (youtube) and watch it; Two,    encourage / demand that all of your local and regional referees watch it; Three, study this weekend’s World Cup matches to get a sense of how things can, and will, be called.

    Negative Wrestling describes one athlete denying the other’s attempts to score.  Passivity looks very similar, but its basis is that both athletes appear equally unable to generate offense.

    Now, we’re back to that “Chips on the Table” thing.  It is never my purpose to bash refereeing or its process.  God knows… I am one.  But, that said, ANY change is very threatening.  Sometimes, I really think I know what’s right, when I’m on the whistle.  I wish I didn’t have to admit… but it’s true… there are other times I just go with my gut.  Your officials will do the same thing, with a good heart.

    So… if you put Chips on the Table, thinking someone may get called for Passivity, and your kid gets hit for a Caution and (1 fs) (2 gr), your chips are gone.  Either walk away from the table or put some more out there !

    Working with your kids to keep their butts to the center, and IN the center, is buying the Six and Eight.  Your odds are good.  Hangin’ out, in the zone, waiting for the other athlete to get called for either a Caution or Passivity, is betting a Hard 4.  Don’t scream at the ‘Croupier’, when they take your chips !

    One last analogy, and then I’ll quit.  Most gamblers go to Vegas to LOSE money and See the Shows.  Those that gamble to feed their families, do not fare well.  Those that convince themselves they “Have a System” end up broke and broken hearted.

    We need to portray the right mentality for the vast majority of our athletes, whether they are Seniors or Developing age groups.  A very few will come home with trophies or medals.  If we coach ‘em to “Gamble responsibly, lose when it’s time, and Enjoy The Show, we’ll go home with some pretty happy kids.

    I wish I could guarantee you that every Coach and every Referee are on the same identical page, regarding our understanding of Active, Passive and Negative.  But, you know that’s not how it’s gonna’ play out.  Above all, prepare ‘em to be resilient and adapt.

    I look forward to seeing all of you… if not in Vegas… sometime soon.  Enjoy the World Cup.  Go USA !!!


MARCH12, 2018




Coaches and Leaders,

            Congratulations on your outcomes in February and Thank You for the tireless efforts towards the broader outcome of shaping young lives.  Congratulations to our D III, D II, NAIA and NCWA champions.  So, here we go, D-I…  It’s Showtime !

            Three things are on my agenda, for this update:  Olympic Style Rules Experiments and consideration; some notes on recent activity of your National Coaches’ Council, and some observations on the upcoming Championship in Cleveland.


            First, and always, DO NOT Panic !  We are into the early middle of the 2020 quadrennium, which makes it time to tweak and test, as we prepare for Tokyo.  You’re going to see some new ideas, addressing the same old problems, throughout this spring and summer.  There are enough details that I won’t talk you through each point.  Instead, let me strongly encourage you to watch a series of very well-done video presentations.  Go to

The videos come straight from the horses’ mouth.  Zach Errett, UWW Instructor and member of the Refereeing Commission, walks you through, step by step, in a concise, easy to follow format.

            These rule adaptations have been tested at some pretty prestigious events.  The reviews are mixed, but mostly positive.  Most deal with “Negative” Wrestling.  This new lingo addresses our age-old battle against passivity.  Please, as you prepare your kids, both technically and tactically, remind them that we do know what works.  Win the position, win the period.  Stay in the center.  Score the next point.  Either pin ‘emor terminate ‘em.  Put yourself in position to win the close one.


       We have had some discussion about the logistics of the upcoming Final X Series for our World Team selection.  This being an entirely new paradigm, there are slightly more questions than answers.  That said, we appreciate the efforts of many to breathe new life into the spectator value of our beloved sport.

            We have also been spending some really unpleasant time, listening to a growing series of complaints against licensed coaches.  As you all know, SafeSport training and certification is now a requirement throughout the Olympic sport family.  The organization also serves as a first line of communication, when an athlete or parent feels they’ve been wronged.  Once reported, USAW must honor due diligence in researching the claim.

I hate to say it, but some of the stuff we’re having to read goes WAY outside boundaries.  Whether you perceive yourself as “Old School” or ultra-progressive… Please, Coach, take proper not of the times our society is living through.  Our sport has always taken pride in supporting those core values every society counts on.  That said, we live in a time where both information and mis-information are viral and instant.  Take advantage of opportunities to collaborate, to get outside opinions.  Be a pro-active communicator.  When in doubt, ask !  We have a staff experts in our National Office.  Protect yourself, your program and your family !


       As we begin collegiate wrestling’s greatest week, please encourage developing athletes and their parents to listen to the interviews coming out of our champions.  I was amazed at the stream of mindful thoughts I heard, from relatively young men and women, as they won conference titles ( or National Championships for the Women).  I lost count of how many of these heroes talked about “Enjoying the Process”, “Embracing New Challenges”, “Getting Beaten in the Room”, “Keeping it Simple”, and “Having Fun”.

            Legendary Coaches made far more comments about a kid’s Character, than his Technique.  They all mentioned program Values.  They all credited Alumni and Work-Out Partners.  Every interview included more about what the athlete is doing in the classroom, the family, the community, than what they were accomplishing on the mat.

            In this day of Social Media and Live Streaming, I hope we are guiding our audience:  Our kids and their parents in sorting out what Really Matters.  We’ve got to magnetize the words and attitudes of our greatest, to reinforce the promises we made when the kid first walked into the room.

Enjoy the D-I’s and the World Cup.  I look forward to seeing many of you in Vegas.







Coaches and Leaders,

    I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season.  Knowing how busy we can all be, I hope you managed to enjoy some family time.  Of course, I hope your life in the Wrestling Room was productive, too.

    When all is said and done, I have a couple of suggestions / reminders, designed to save you some grief.  This week is the right time to ask, “Who got new wrestling shoes for Christmas ?”  Your goal is to eyeball new shoes, just in case they don’t include Velcro or some kind of lace-securing mechanism.  We all get busy and forget to remind kids about these presentation rules.

    It’s also a good New Year tactic to include all those other Grooming and Equipment rules.  Shaving ?  Hair Covers ATTACHED ?  Mouthpieces ?  Tape of Decals on Headgear ?  Fingernails ?  Skin Checks ?

    Taking the few minutes, at least once a month, to include these reminders does something important for each individual and group.  It reminds us that we are a sport of Honor.  Kids take pride in knowing that we pay attention to detail… that the “Little” things really do influence the “Big” things.  The conversation also saves you that crucial point that none of us can afford to lose.

    With that, I need to tell you a combination of two stories that really happened to me, over the last month.  Between the two, I found myself a little confused !  I’ll make it quick and hope you see my point.

    Last week, I had the privilege of being part of a Womens’ Cadet Development Camp, in Tempe.  We had the eighty best High School girls in the country, along with a magic group of developing coaches.  A single message dominated every session:  “Little things matter.  Little things getting done correctly, every time, lead to big results”.

    Obviously, I bought in.  This message fits every idea I’ve ever had about our sport.  Wrestlers take the time to address those little things.  Wrestlers pay attention to detail.  Wrestlers find honor in getting those little things right… every time !

    I doubt I’ve said anything you haven’t experienced, yourself.  I’m sure this is one of the overlying messages all of us hand from generation to generation.

    So… Now, let me share the other part of the story.  At the very beginning of the season, I had occasion to be part of a large high school tournament for men.  I do have to say, the event was NOT inside the borders of my beloved New Mexico.  I won’t say where we were.

    It was a Dual Meet tournament, fourth dual of the day, starting at 126.  One of the Captains attending the pre-match flip, from Team X, proudly displayed a mouth full of braces.  He was their 126 pounder.  After the flip, he returned to his bench, buckled his headgear and reported… No mouthpiece.  The referee followed correct protocol, but I was captivated by his coach’s response, “Has anyone else called it today ?  What’s wrong with this guy ?”

    Two matches later, at 138, the athlete from Team X’s right shoe came untied.  The referee examined the shoe and made it clear to the opposing coach that the shoe DID, in fact, have a velcro enclosure.  And then, we all watched the kid close the velcro first, then tie the laces over the top !  The referee did not penalize, but explained to both athlete and coach the application of the rule about securing laces.  Coach just kinda’ rolled his eyes.

    You would think that the rest of the team would’ve somehow gotten the message.  Oh, no !

Two matches later, here comes the 152 pounder, laces single-tied and dangling… no tape, no velcro, no nothin’.  Does every referee focus on laces ?  No.  But, after the weird incident at 138, this one noticed…  Technical Violation and Injury Time.  Guess who Coach was upset with.

    Not done yet.  160, the very next guy, comes out with identical shoes, equally unsecured !  Coach is positive, now, that it’s a personal assault on him.   They get through 170 and 182.  Still Team X, the 220 is wearing a hair cover.  You guessed it.  Near the end of the first period, his headgear comes off and the hair cover stays on.  The guy’s hair was actually legal length, so he was able to continue, but lost a point and burned injury time.

    Very next match, 220, Team X has a big, good lookin’ football player that probably can become something special.  Problem is, he’s got a full beard.  He definitely should have exhausted injury time and been disqualified, but the referee pretended to ignore the beard.  Can’t say I blame him.  This coach is already ranting and raving about the guy applying the rules.  Cut your losses !

    So, you see the source of my confusion.  I know all of us stay busy, early in the season, teaching technique at warp speed.  I’m never gonna’ tell you I agree with every rule, as written.  But, then we swell up and brag about getting “Little “ things right, about focusing on detail, about honor.

    Here’s a referee taking a attitude and soft verbal abuse for applying the rules in an equitable fashion.  Here’s a coach willing to inflict that abuse, and worse, teach his kids that everything’s the referee’s fault, when he was the one too negligent to instruct properly.

    As hard as it is to believe, that story really happened, exactly as I reported it !  I get that it’s 2018.  We and our athletes are part of a unique generation and it impacts our sport.  Dear friends, if we don’t stand for what’s right, attend to those details, and let our kids face appropriate consequences, our sport and way of life could suffer permanent damage.  Please do your part.   

    I wish you well, as you enter the heart of our season.  I’ll touch base before championship time.  As always, I’m happy to track down answers, should you have questions.

    On a personal note, one of our Brothers is fighting a very tough battle.  Please keep Coach Mike Duroe in your thoughts and prayers.








            I hope this finds you well… and excited for our upcoming scholastic season.  I’m sure you had your chance to celebrate the success our World Teams had, during the last month.  Our Schoolboys / girls, Cadets, Juniors and Seniors have given us a great start to the Tokyo quadrennium !  I want to say a big THANK YOU to the New Mexico Few who spend time, money and effort, every spring and summer, to fuel this fire !

            We kick off our 2018 campaign with the NMHSCA / NMAA Coaches’ and Officials’ Clinic, October 20 – 21.  What a great deal this has become for New Mexico Wrestling !  Don’t forget to say a personal ‘Thank You’ to Buster Mabry, Scott Owen and Dana Pappas for taking the organizational risk to Make This Happen.

            As we prepare for the Clinic, I’m offering some topics that may be of interest.  I’ll comment, ever-so-briefly, here.  You can pick your own poison and follow up, formally (in the large group), informally (with your trusted few), or both.  My list is certainly not complete.  It seeks to identify a few of the ‘Main’ issues that seem to concern the most of us.  Please don’t hesitate to offer your own ideas to either Coach Owen of myself, as the clinic approaches.

  • Optional Two-Piece Uniform:  Long overdue, this has the potential to breathe new life into scholastic wrestling.  My only word of advice is to look for the words, NFHS APPROVED, before you buy.  Ask your vendor, before you commit !  This has significant budget implications.  Whether it be your AD, Boosters, or Fund-Raising, do your homework BEFORE you spend money.
  • Back Points and Falls Out of Bounds:  Go SLOW, as we all adjust to this !  Personally, I would not change anything about coaching kids to ‘Keep Him / Her In’.  In the end, this will be and OK rule adaptation.  That said, we all know it will be testy to learn.  We compete is a pretty wide variety of environments, especially in tournaments.  At times, lack of Protection Area, alters the range within which the referees can operate.  Officials:  Keep Safety First.  Coaches:  Don’t begrudge a referee that Keeps Safety First.
  • Little Kids Wrestling:  There are some significant changes that promise to be a very positive impact for ALL New Mexico Wrestling.  Those responsible deserve your appreciation.  Many of the changes are pointed at validating YOU, the High School Head Coach, as the CEO for Wrestling Operations, within your population area.  Step Up to the Challenge !
  • Womens’ Wrestling at Santa Ana:  Many of you have waited a long time to hear this:  There will be EIGHT BRACKETS, specifically for High School Eligible Women, contested during the NMAA State Championship in February.  Find a way to THANK NMAA Leadership for making a bold decision to do a ‘Right’ Thing !  This is going to take some work… and we’ll grow into it.  I will be your primary point of contact for the Womens’ portion of the event.  I will remain open to your ideas, but will also remain responsible to the leadership creating the opportunity.
  • New Mexico Wrestling Hall of Fame:  This group is another that continues to make strides in doing what is ‘Right’ for all the contributors in our sport.  As the effort continues to blossom, you will be called upon to ‘Do Your Part’.  You are the primary spokesperson for your entire community.  Don’t miss a chance to Make A Difference !

Again, please Speak Up, if I’m missing something that deserves to be on our plate, at the upcoming Clinic.  Feel free to contact me, directly:

If you prefer, contact Scott Owen at NMAA.  Trust me…  Coach Owen IS our voice !

I REALLY look forward to visiting with all New Mexico High School Coaches, during the October Clinic.  You guys and gals do So Much for our kids. 



September 4th, 2017

RE:    Upcoming Wrestling Season - Announcement

To:    NMJW / NM Wrestling - USA / New Mexico Wrestling Community

First, I would like to invite and welcome all New Mexico Wrestlers, Parents, Coaches, Officials and Supporters to the upcoming season of 2017-2018.  The season promises to be successful with many NM Wrestling Coaches and Parents coming together.  We hope this is a sign of added success and support of our sport in our great State of New Mexico.

Upcoming events:

New Mexico Junior Wrestling Kickoff Meeting

    Sunday September 10, 2017 @ 11 am @ Manzano High School

New Mexico Wrestling - USA Planning Meeting

    Sunday September 24, 2017 @ 2 pm @ 1512 Coors SW

These meetings are open to all and all are welcome to attend and provide input on the upcoming season.

Next an important announcement for the New Mexico Wrestling Community.

NMJW and NM Wrestling - USA boards have voted to start the effort and re-organization to become ONE organization.  This upcoming season will start with the two organizations working together as they have done in the past.  Once details and required IRS and NM State filings are completed the two organizations will merge into one and the resulting organization will have one board made up of the two organizations…working together to further Wrestling in our State.  This is a positive step to bringing the Wresting Community of NM together.  More details to follow.

We hope to see everyone at our upcoming organizational meetings.


Loren Vigil                               Andrew Fowner Jr.

NM Wrestling - USA                NMJW

Director                                    President





Coaches and Leaders,

​I hope you’re celebrating the success our Junior World Team had.  Is the Southern Plains Kickin’ Ass… or what ?  Get pumped for some great results from Paris, and then from our Cadets in Athens !

​This update focusses on your input to the State Leaders at their recent Colorado Springs Summit, as well as the decisions they forwarded up the food chain, to the JOWC and, ultimately, the Board of Directors.

​I have to tell you, they’re already calling this the “FARGO Summit” !  I think it’s fair to say, there was some interesting, often heated, debate, regarding several of the ‘Jigsaw Puzzle’ pieces that define our premier event.  I applaud the contributors and the debate.  I have some deep concerns with some of the outcomes.  But, that’s for me and my State Chair.  Please make the most of your own Chain of Command !

​First, your input.  With the help of Tony Black, USAW State Services Director, we distributed a Survey Monkey instrument to a total of 780 Coaches, registered in Fargo.  We got timely responses from 280 (that’s 36 per cent).  That number gave us ‘Validity’, which is important.  We are encouraging all stakeholders to work at making their decisions Data based, rather than Emotion based.

​Please see, next, the bar-graph results of the instrument.  NOTE:  If the graphics are too small, adjust your VIEW to 200%.  Please also note, I am NOT computer magician enough to combine several snips on a single page.  Apologies !  Please scroll through several pages.

​Thank You ! to the 280 Coaches who took the time to fuel the fire.  We’re about to take a look at the outcomes of all the discussion in Colorado Springs.  In some cases, let me advise:  Pour yourself a drink;  Go to the room that does not have very many sharp things; Sit down;  Hit the drink, pretty hard, at least once; Breathe; Remember NOT to PANIC.  Everything will be OK !

​Seriously… What I’m presenting you are the large generalizations that came from the State Chairs.  None of the Details are fixed.  We have experts, in our Events and State Services departments, that really DO care about your kids ! Ready ?

*In 2018, we will wrestle Freestyle Men First, Greco Last

         *In 2018, the Womens' Duals will NOT be contested in Fargo (During the same event as the individual tournaments)

         *In 2018, the First Weigh in, for Each Style / Age Group, will, OPTIMALLY, take place the evening before their competition begins

         *In 2018, All Matches in the Championship Bracket and Medal Matches will consist of Two THREE-MINUTE periods

         *In 2018, All Non-Medal Matches in the Consolation Bracket will consist of Two          TWO-MINUTE periods

​OK… one more sip !  We’ll be OK !  I know there are some points that will make you happy, and some that will have you scratchin’ your noggin.  We’ll be OK !  Give our Staff time to process these decisions and present us with a plan… probably late winter / early spring.  

​Enjoy the Seniors and the Cadets.  If you want to Wrestle on the Beach, in Turkey, in October… Call me !   

​If you have kids in the room, just make your Magic.  Get them ready for the Folkstyle Season.  We’ll be OK.  (That’s three times I’ve said that).

Get some rest, we have things to do !  I really appreciate what you do for kids.










Coaches and Leaders,

​Congratulations, and Thanx, for your contribution to the “Fargo” experience !  Whether you were there, or contributed along the way to getting a kid there, your efforts are noticed and appreciated.

​By my count, the Southern Plains produced One Hundred and Eleven All-Americans in 2017.  I hope more important, is that we represented our region with dignity and class.  All our kids were competitive and honest.  All our coaches were engaged and professional.  It’s a treat to be part of a “Class Act” region.   Thanx !

​This is the week to TAKE CARE OF YOU !  As you get to know your family again, and regrow a personality, be aware of the neurological and chemical stress you just exposed your body to.  Hit the fruit juices, the Airborne, the B and D vitamins, a little extra for a while.  Get a nap, when you can.  Your immune system got totally dependent on the Cortisol flow, last week.  Now that it’s drying up, don’t let yourself get sick !



​If you were in Fargo, expect an email, soon, inviting you to participate in a Six-Question Survey Monkey instrument.  Make it your business to respond !

​Whether or not you were in Fargo, touch base with your State Chair.  They are getting ready for the Summit, in Colorado Springs.  Don’t beat ‘em up with little, Ticky-Tack things.      DO communicate your vision of the next decade in how USAW designs, offers and executes our Age-Group competition.

​Mike Juby asked ALL State Chairs, and Zac Dominguez asked ALL Coaches, to make a concerted effort to get Coach Representation from your state to the Summit.  Things are cookin’.  Your voice is being given the value it deserves.  Don’t shy away from the responsibility !

​A second note, regarding the Summit:  Ed Duncan (North Carolina), Chairman of USAW’s Associated Styles Committee, will be hosting a Break Out Session.  Your State Representatives can bring home information about Grappling, Beach Wrestling, and other Traditional Styles on the United World Wrestling menu.  Many of these styles are popular niche markets, in the United States.  As such, they deserve our attention.



​Over the last two years, it has become clear that nothing lasts forever.  Answering the needs of USAW’s membership base is a constantly evolving process.  We’ve been pretty lucky, over the last 20 years.  What we have been offering has suited the needs of all stake-holders, pretty well.

​Each stake-holder group has identified some need for new direction, as we prepare for the quadrennia of 2024, 2028, 2032.  After listening to each other, carefully, in the various Council meetings, we all know how interdependent each component of our current paradigm has become.

That said, the consensus seems to be that our work must be Proactive, rather than Reactive.  If we go about business, trying to ‘Fix’ some broken piece, the stress will break five more pieces !  We cannot build the future without maintaining the successful parts of our present.

It seems our best shot at being productive is to adopt sound business principles.  If we get our best minds, representing each stake-holder group, in the same room, we can create a Vision of what USAW’s menu of Age-Group competition will look like in the 2020’s.  Our Mission then becomes designing the right ‘Machine’ parts that fit together to make the Vision our new reality.

Don’tcha love it, when I go all philosophical on you ?  But, seriously… you are the people in the Room, with the Kids ! What you think matters !  When you hatch an idea, take it to your small group of trusted friends.  As it takes shape, present it to your State Organization.  Your State Chair will work with others in the Southern Plains and, eventually, with the National group.

Keep an open mind.  Work to see the ‘Bigger’ picture.  Identify places where we can compromise, as well as those few ‘Hills’ we need to die on.

I am confident that our National Staff is behind us, in this effort.  We have to remember that we really are a Volunteer Based, Not For Profit, entity.  As such, our National Staff can only implement what we design.  We have to fuel their professional expertise with our ideas and the needs of our clients… the Athletes.


Think on this.  I’ll touch base again, after the Summit (August 10-12).




JULY 2017






Coaches and Leaders,


I hope you and your family had a safe, mindful and happy Independence Day.  I know all are in the middle of, or have recently finished Intensive Camps, in preparation for Fargo.

​Congratulations, and Thanx, for your part in June’s National Duals competition.  Special Thanx to the Oklahoma and Tulsa organizing committees, for their presentation of the Junior Duals.  It’s been a long time since we saw the type of Athlete Friendly, Volunteer Appreciating, Good Old FashionedHospitality Tulsa provided.  It’s nice to see the enthusiasm of youth and the experience of “Experience” work together to Get It Right.

​USAW is just finishing our premier training camp for our age-group elite.  It’s called 2024 Camp, and runs alongside our first Senior Preparation Camp for Paris.  Coach Hagerty, Missouri, has taken one of the lead positions in these camps.  Coach Hagerty picked my brain, about a few officiating issues, for presentation during the camps.  I’ve included my comments for you to pick through, as you prepare for Fargo.

​Please realize that my comments belong to me and don’t represent any group of published position.  Read with a critical eye and form your own conclusions.  My purpose is to help us all create more well-rounded, thoughtful athletes… nothing else.  I’ll offer the same comments to anyone, nation-wide, that asks.  If you like the ideas presented, feel free to incorporate them.  If not, fell free to trash them.



​As mentioned in my June update, please Take Every Reasonable Action to protect your kids, as they arrive at weigh ins in Fargo.  Communication with Kid and Parent is vital.



​Please find time for these important opportunities to contribute to the Greater Good of our Profession, while we’re in Fargo !  We start with Free Food, at the Coaches Burger Bash, SUNDAY AFTERNOON, 4:30, upstairs, in the Dome.  MONDAY NIGHT AT 8:00, we have our first full National Coaches Council Meeting, IN THE TEAM ROOM, downstairs, behind the competition floor.  Your attendance and opinion matters !  Our second Council Meeting is WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT 7:00.  This should suit our Greco Coaches, just getting in.

​I’ll be on the floor, all day, every day.  Please feel free to pull me off to the side, if you have an idea or issue.








​One answer…  our elite athletes and their coaches must continue to update their lists of “Things I can Control” and “Things I can’t”.


​For this conversation, we need to think Toughest Scenario…  we’re matched against the second best competitor in our particular universe, and it’s going to be close.  We know that, to take our opponent out of contention, we need to be six points ahead.  Against a quality opponent, this is not likely.  So, our opponent will stay in it.  Good for them.  Good for us.  Attack responsibly.


​The officiating team is a bit more pesky.  The good news is, we only need a three point lead to take them out of the equation.  To do so, we have to manage Time, we have to manage Space, we have to manage Contact.



​We don’t get to pick our referee.  We can’t dictate their experience at this level.  We can’t choose who Judges and Chairs the match with them.  We can’t control the “Points of Emphasis” they heard in the two hour meeting they were in, last night, nor the half hour meeting they had this morning.  We can’t control the perspective they use to interact with what they think they heard.  We can’t control their fatigue, nor the stress they have dealt with over the last several hours.  We cannot control whatever promotion, demotion, reward, assignment, appreciation they feel like they have at stake.



​Just when we got used to the idea that stepping out costs a point, the whistle slowed down and options were considered.  Our answer has to be, WRESTLE THROUGH THE EDGE, not just TO it.  Referees are being instructed to “Hold the Whistle” for an attack to be completed.  “Completed” is in the eyes of the beholder.   Do NOT stop competing until the whistle has blown.  

​MY SHOT, MY OFFENSE:  Stay Greedy !  If my opponent has stepped out, I THINK I’m assured ONE point.  Capitalize on the delayed whistle.  Let’s snag TWO, maybe FOUR, because our opponents quit early.

​YOUR SHOT, MY DEFENSE:  Stay Greedy !  If I have stepped out, I must now limit my loss to ONE.  Make the same fight you would in the center.  Stuff head, fight hands, deny hips.  We cannot quit early, then have our opponent LOOK LIKE they finished.







​Again, for the sake of argument, we’re going to play out a 0-0 match, in which the officiating crew will basically decide who wins.  Under the current rules, if the athletes are not scoring, the officiating team must.  A match with no offensive, technical score, no caution, no step out, will end 2-1.  At the end of a minute two minutes, twenty seconds, it’ll be 1-0.  Going into the second period, around 4:15, it’ll be 1-1.  Before we get to 5:20, it’ll be 2-1.  That’s how it’ll finish, if there’s not a Fleeing the Hold Call. 

​We simply cannot care who gets put on the Activity Period Clock first.  I might have an opponent making me look bad.  I might get lucky.  The officials might just guess.  

​If I’m on the clock, I need to stay within myself and manage my offense.  Nothing crazy.  If my opponent is on the clock, I need to stay in bounds and capitalize on any error.  

​It’s the thirty seconds after the first Activity Period that make a big difference.  I’ve got to either score, before the end of the first period, or make my opponent eat a first warning.  I need them on the clock, as early as possible, in the second period.

​But, be careful what we wish for !  Things went well.  It’s 1-1, at 4:20 and I scored last.  Now, I have to manage over a minute and a half, knowing that the referee needs the final score to be 2-1.  Pace is everything now.  I have to stay in the center and either attack or create the illusion of attack.  If I don’t, guess “Who’s Turn” it is to go on the clock.



​What we know is that every referees’ clinic is preaching, “Make ‘em wrestle in bounds”.

Does it matter where the attack began ?  Yeah, kinda’.  Does it matter who’s ahead ?  Yeah, kinda’.  Does it matter how we went out ? Yeah, kinda’.  Will they, maybe, just guess, because of the pressure of whoever is watching ?  Good chance !

​We have to defend shots with our butt to the center.  Gotta’ be able to get off our opponent’s corner and dictate direction.  And… in that weirdest of possible scenario, we have to take what the rule gives.  Today, it’s better to give up TWO, thanTWO and A CAUTION.

​So, we eat a bad call.  What now ?  We better have some pretty good experience with time management, a Plan A and A plan B.  If we let ourselves be blindsided, shame on us !


​Maybe, the call of the year… or not-call.  All of us know that our viewing audience, whether in the seats or on TV, do NOT want to watch matches end ugly.  They heard the commentators brag that we are a sport of constant risk.  If you don’t have a well-rehearsed plan of staying in contact, in the center, and being willing to brawl, you really deserve whatever you get.

​Don’t act surprised that officiating teams are highly sensitized to Fleeing, in a One Point nut-cutter, inside forty seconds.  Know the difference in the commands you hear.  If the referee is saying the words “ACTION” or “ATTACK”, they are working on setting up a Passivity Call.  When the command changes to the word, “CONTACT”, they’re setting up a Fleeing the Hold Call.  If they stop the match and warn you, anywhere over 15-20 seconds, they ARE coming after the call.  ADJUST !

​Redefine your “Bread and Butter”, your “Go To” attack.  Can you penetrate a Single, and not get tilted, lifted, or gator rolled for two ?  Can you go double unders and not get thrown ? Can you pull down a Two On One and dominate the center of the mat ?  Just know that the world takes a dim view of you skating backwards, pumping your victorious fists in the air.  Ask the Mongolian !



​We are not a meat-head circus act !  We are some of the most brilliant tacticians in any athletic endeavor ever known to mankind !  Much of any wrestler’s success is based on PSYCHOLOGICAL conditioning.  Just like PHYSICAL conditioning, we have to take ourselves past exhaustion, and then perform at our peak.

​With the help of your coaches, design ways to attack, protect, appear, disappear, stay with the plan, panic productively.  Make all of these psychological skills a part of every workout… just like you make your cardio stress part of very work out.  Overcome bad calls and admit when you get lucky.

​Tax every rule. Do not be taxed by any rule.  Make them all work for you. Don’t consciously allow any to ever work against you.  Find ways to control your environment, ethically.  It’s what we do.



THAT’S IT.  Travel Safely !  I look forward to sharing some great experiences in Fargo.  Thanx for all you do !




BIG Thank You

Coach Benavidez, Wife and family for at great camp.

Your hospitality and food was amazing.

Also, thank you to Coach Martinez, the Bettermans, and Bill Zadick for running a great camp.

JUNE, 2017





Coaches and Leaders,

​Just a quick note, as we head into the Freestyle World Team Trials.  This might be the SECOND most exciting weekend in June.

​The FIRST, of course, was our Southern Plains Championship, last weekend.  What a magnificent display ! Many of the athletes we saw seem like good bets for a place on a podium, later this summer.

​Thanks, as always, to USAW – Kansas for another first-class event.  Your hospitality is icing on the cake.  Thanks to the countless volunteers that make an event like this happen.

​Congratulations to the volunteer Officials, both from the Region and from outside.  I hope all Southern Plains constituents realize how lucky we are to have a large population of quality referees, dedicated to a better experience for our kids.

​As for the wrestling itself, and the rules we are operating under, things are better than good !  When you think that, just a few years ago, our rules were a constant battle, it’s a joy to see things so right.  My favorite match of the Freestyle event… Juniors… ended 21 – 21.  Both athletes has a Five Point Throw.  Both had TWO Four Pointers.  It came down to Last Points Scored… right at the buzzer.  WOW !

​At the request of some of our Coaches, I’m watching very carefully, the impact of the Two-Point award for Correct Technique.  We got to see it, in Vegas.  We’ve had it in effect for our local and state events.  We got to use it in Dodge City.  Let’s see what we get, in Lincoln.  I’ll get you some feedback, prior to Fargo.

​Speaking of Fargo…  I want to get out in front of an issue, as we all plan and prepare our Intensive Training Camps for our feature event.  Contagious Skin Disorders are a bigger deal than some give credit !

​Over the last 20 years, I’ve made it my business to represent our National Coaches’ Council at Weigh Ins.  My purpose is to act as intermediary between Coach and Medical Staff in a very traumatic situation, making sure everyone’s rights and responsibilities are respected.  When a kid gets told they can’t compete, after all the blood, sweat, tears, and dollars, it’s devastating !

​So, let me urge camp organizers to be proactive in this area.  You need Coaches assigned to thorough skin-checks, perhaps even TWICE a day.  You need access to a physician… one that has some kind of clue about wrestling, and about the specific skins disorders we see.  Someone, at the camp, needs to get DrBJ Anderson’s APP on their smart-phone.  That APP is “The Mat Doc”.


If you know you have kids with prior outbreaks of Herpes Gladiatorum, get ‘em started on a prophylactic regimen of Valtrex.  There is plenty of literature, by Dr Anderson among others, to support this prevention.  We know that Herpes loves some good stress.  The psychological and physical demands associated with Fargo are prime opportunities for an outbreak.

​We know that many of our athletes have been at the Duals, and / or other camps, clinics, events.  They’ve been exposed to physical contact with any bug from any place.  There’s no such thing as “Too Careful”, when it comes to taking care of mats, laundering work out gear, keeping wrestling shoes on mats (and nowhere else).

​Make hygiene a part of every team meeting, every end of practice, and all your parent communications.  Information really is power.  We don’t need our kids freaked by fear.  We need them informed and mindful.

​I’ll harp on this, once more, between the Freestyle Trials and Fargo.  It will, likely, coincide with the upcoming National Duals.  Until then, take care of yourself, too.  We have some stress coming our ways, during the next several weeks.  Do what it takes to support your immune system.

​Before I go, CONGRATULATIONS to two of our own from the Southern Plains.  Arkansas’ Greg hatcher and Missouri’s Mike Hagerty, and Texas’ Andre Metzger were inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, last Saturday.  Dayton Fix, of Oklahoma was presented the 2017 Dave Schultz Award.  Honors well deserved !


And Happy Fathers’ Day !!!


MAY, 2017




Coaches and Leaders,

            The National Open, and all its sub-events, was a success.  The Southern Plains was well represented by quality athletes, coaches and referees at all levels.  Congratulations and Thanx to all !

            As we prepare for our Regional Championship, a month from this weekend, I have a couple of things I’d like you to consider.  The first relates to a recent, and significant, success for one of our own.  USA Wrestling recently announced that Missouri’s Gary Mayabb will become its new Manager of Greco-Roman Programs. 

            Coach Mayabb is off and running.  One of his immediate goals is to institute a series of Greco-specific clinics, for Developing Athletes and Pool Coaching Candidates, at the Regional level.  It makes sense to test the waters, close to home.

            This puts the Southern Plains in a position to lead the way, once again.  Take a look at your calendars, and let’s begin a discussion at our meeting, in Dodge City.  The ideal dates for this Pilot Clinic would be from the lat weekend of April to the second weekend of May, in 2018.

            In addition to looking at dates, we need to consider our most central, and affordable location.  The clinic / camp wants to host up to 140 high school aged athletes and 21 of our up-and-coming pool coaches.  That translates to 20 athletes and 3 coaches per state, throughout our region.

            As I said, think on this.  Kick it around with the clubs in your area.  Bring your innovations, as well as your reservations to Dodge City.  We will forward your information to Coach Mayabb, and get the ball rolling.

            My second, and last, comment, this month, relates to a comment / question recently asked of me.  It really fired me up !  Someone, a person kinda’ up there in the wrestling world, asked me, “Why does the Southern Plains stack its Regional Championship on top of the University and UWW Cadets event ?”  I went off !

            Truth is, our Region has maintained OUR weekend of choice for a generation.  Sometime, late 80’s or early 90’s, we bumped back from mid-June to the first weekend.  This move was to accommodate the growth of the National Junior and Cadet Duals.  The Schoolboy / girl duals were added, not long after.

            So, I made it clear to my question-asker, the Southern Plains Championship has been Stacked Upon, not the other way around.  I had to add what we all know, down deep inside.  In our organization’s efforts to maintain market share versus our entrepreneur ‘Friends’, we have scheduled more events than can be reasonable for any of our role players !

            This reality, on the business side of our sport leadership, makes it even more incumbent upon us, as coaches, to make sound, strategic decisions about where and how much our kids compete.  We have kids, in the Southern Plains, who really need to compete at the UWW Cadet Trials… but not many.  We have kids, in every state, that are profiting from competing at our local events, but are not ready to compete out-of state.  We have kids that REALLY need to test themselves in Fargo.  We have kids that need to experience the grind of the Duals.

            Not all of our kids need to be at all of our events.  It seems likely that managing their exposure to competitive stress will positively impact, and lengthen, each career.  I’m not trying to throw water on anyone’s competitive fire.  Still we have to admit that More is Not necessarily Better.

            So… Round up your few, your elite, and send  ‘em to Akron to make a World Team.  Let your newbies, and your wannabees, stay home and dream of traveling next year.  Round up every able competitor, coach and referee… and put ‘em on the bus to Dodge City.

            Have a great month.  See you there.



Last Minute Addendum:

            You’ve seen the article !  NFHS has APPROVED alternative Two Piece Uniform for 2017-2018.  This might have impact on your ORDERING for next year.  Make the discussion with your Athletic Director ASAP.     RD

APRIL, 2017




Coaches and Leaders,

            It’s only been a couple of weeks.  Still, with the Open and Western Juniors coming up in Vegas, I need to get you some stuff.

We had our National Coaches’ Council conference call meeting on April 6th.  There’s some info you need, from that call.

Everyone has kicked off their Local Tournament Season, within our states.  I want to get you some observations and hope they might be of some use.

First, Our Conference Call:

       We got to listen to Coaches Lindland and Zadick update us on a very successful Winter Tour Season.  Coach Lindland asks that that we spread the word, on the Greco-Roman Culture’s specific website

            He also emphasized how many opportunities are being developed for Greco specific athletes.  If anyone has a kid who wants to specialize, right out of high school, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Coach Lindland.

            Matt also talked about our senior team’s more aggressive offensive philosophy.  We want to push the pace and score early, rather than hanging out and making a costly error, too late to come back from.  This philosophy is much more effective, if we emphasize attack with our age group athletes.

            Coach Zadick was excited about rule change. Adding the opportunity for a Five point technique can only help Freestyle.  One big thing in it, for us, is the simplicity of having the same technical scoring in both Olympic styles.

            All Cautions are accompanied by TWO points, now.  We’ve got to drive home this philosophical difference between Olympic wrestling and American Folkstyle.  We can’t have a kid “Run” and Celebrate, in the last few seconds.  They risk giving up TWO, even in the last few seconds.  Stay engaged !

            Good News !  UWW is going back to 10 weight classes, per style, in non-Olympic Championships.  The 10 number will hold true for ALL age groups that have a Continental or World Championship.

            UWW is also adding a U-23 World Championship, Poland… Thanksgiving weekend.  USAW events staff is working to adapt what we’ve known as ‘University Nationals’, to meet this need.  Look for U-23 World Team Trials in early October.

What Local Tournaments Offer:

       I hear, from time to time, that the local tournament is a dinosaur… a thing of the past.  With all our favorite wrestling entrepreneurs out there, selling trophies larger than the kid, for this weekend’s Championship of the Galaxy, it’s often tough to draw a lot of kids to the local tournament across town, or in a small town.

            I still think there’s a ‘Big Buck’ to be had by every kid whose family does support that local event.  And, I believe we provide every kid… our best and our worst… with opportunity to grow their personal base.

            The local tournament lets all of us focus on PROCESS, not Product.  This key element of the periodization process is a must have, for every role in our sport. 

            Everyone involved: athletes; parents; coaches; referees just finished a heated competitive season, less than sixty days ago.  We have another one beginning soon, with Regional and National competition looming.

            The local tournament season, from March through May, allows all of us that time for reflection, goal-setting, and personal growth as a whole person.   Here are a couple of examples of what I’m after.

            The Mis-Match.  Your legitimate kid… state placer as a Sophomore light-weight, draws up against that rolly-polly eighth grader, whose biggest dream is hair in his armpits.  Actually, it doesn’t matter which kid is yours.  They’re both supposed to profit from the experience. 

            I actually refereed this match, last weekend.  Both kids did a great job !  The not-so-good youngster took some honest shots and tried a throw.  The pretty good kid made it clear that he was wrestling the position, not the opponent.  Win-Win !  Well coached !  Kids that are growing into capable humans !

            Coaching Restrictions.  There’s not a one of us that isn’t purely amazed at the ignorance of many State High School Associations’ Coaching Limitations.  Here we are, in a combative sport, using extremely sport specific equipment and technique.  And, the only person within a country mile who is qualified to supervise the activity safely, ISN’T ALLOWED TO !

            My hat’s off to those few who run their workouts within their state parameters, then show up at the local event and do what needs to get done.  They pair brackets, referee matches, mop mats, and sell burritos.  But, you know what ?  They’re present.  They get a chance to observe their kids, albeit from a distance.  They help other peoples’ kids, which teaches their own to honor the fight.  Do you suppose it’s a secret that these are the guys who are coaching the teams and clubs that do well, both winter and

summer ?

Creative Officiating.  This might be to our younger, up-and-coming referees.  It might be to our Old Dogs.  I hope it hits home with both.  In the local tournament, there’s a very fine line between refereeing and coaching basic Best Practices, to kids from our own states.

I can’t tell you how many times, a week, I’m stopping that ‘Cement Mixer’, ‘Twister’, junk-move off a front head-lock.  I break it after the first turn.  From par terre, it’s that side head lock.  I break it, as soon as it gets hooked up.

You know, and I know, we’re not gonna’ beat good kids with junk moves.  Referees can help athletes, psychologically, by giving just a little extra time to develop sound technique and quick-whistling junk moves.

The athletes (and coaches) that are leaning on garbage moves are, clearly, addicted to the Product, not the PROCESS.  Sell ‘em a medal, at the concession stand, and devote your energy to the kids that are struggling to do it the right way. 

All that said, I look forward to Regional competition.  Our kids get to test themselves against your kids.  Our brightest young coaches get to study With, and Against, yours.  Our Region’s officials get the practice they need to make a mark, nationally.

Thanx for your part, in all of this.  Good luck to your kids.









Coaches and Leaders,


            If you haven’t heard, or told, stories of the D1 Championship in St Louis… it might be time to buy a ball !  Everything about this year’s tournament makes us say, “Wow” !

            St Louis represented our Southern Plains, again, with a first class event.  Thanx to the hundreds of volunteers that put it all together. 

            Our Southern Plains Athletes earned a lot of success, representing schools is all parts of the country.  Thanx, and Congrats, to their families, coaches, and the work out partners that got ‘em there.

            USA Wrestling was the central focus of the Fan-Fest, as usual.  Our organization’s display’s featured speakers, not to mention the fabulous workout sessions, make us all proud.  USAW’s presence was the true definition of “Something for Everyone”.  Congrats to our leaders and staff.

            A new Foundation, the USWF (figure it out), offered a wonderful introduction to their vision of supporting our sport and our athletes.  Make yourself aware of the Foundation’s aims and purpose.

            And, as for the tournament, you gotta’ start with the Finals and work backwards.  We’ll tell stories, for years, about Penn State’s running the table.  Amazing !  I want to study that, in a few minutes.  But, I was impressed by the outcomes of our Southern Plains schools, as well.  Mizzou put three in the finals !  Oklahoma State capitalized on depth, in the back side.  OU shows great promise, under Coach Lou.  Northern Colorado and Coach Nickerson are making a mark. 

            All these programs are fueled by Southern Plains kids, and that goes back to you.  There are, obviously, great kids from every region.  But, we’re holding our own… and gaining on ‘em.

            By the way, the Southern Plains was well represented in the Refereeing Crew, too.  All of these referees are Home-Grown, Southern Plains guys.  They’re sharp. They’re professional.  They give us one more thing to be proud of and say THANX for.  Good job, guys !



            I want to discuss the mystique of the NCAA finals, a little more.  But, it needs to wait a few minutes.  There are a couple of business items that need your attention, first.

            We have received notification from UWW, via USAW, that some “Rule Changes” are on the horizon.  I’m careful how I present that.  Most of us lived through the traumatic events, in the first decade of the century.  We get a little freaked, whenever we hear the words, “Rule Changes”.

            Don’t be freaked !  Everything’s OK… Promise !  What we received are PROPOSALS for 2018.  They are well-thought-out.  They are GOOD for wrestling.  There IS a PLAN.  Here’s a summary of the proposals:

-  Increase the number of the Senior weight categories

-  Change the weight categories in all age categories

-  Team and individual rankings – creation of top seeds

-  Competition format

-  Doping violation

-  Equipment used in UWW Championships


            I did send you the most recent USA modifications to the International Rules, in my last update.  Other than those, everything is PREDICTABLE for 2017.  Coach your kids not to worry about rules !


            We were recently notified of a Conference Call Meeting of the National Council, coming up April 6th.  If ANYTHING is burning, or itching, or keeping you awake… Please LET ME KNOW.  It’s my job to carry your voice forward.  Let me earn these Big Bucks !



            I’m not the only one who noticed.   Every individual, regardless of role, representing Penn State in an interview setting, said the same word at some point:  Fun.

            This word, one that used to be so simple, has become very complicated… hard to define.  I hear, more frequently than I want to, about how hard it is to coach the “Modern American Kid”.  Everybody’s got to have an ego massage, before practice is over.  Every participant gets a trophy.  You and I are an integral part of Mom and Dad’s couples therapy.

            So, Good for Coach Cael, for packaging the concept of Fun in the most competitive environment !  Now, don’t take me wrong.  If I were in the room with Coach Cael’s Staff, I’d look a lot smarter than I really am.  If I were in the room with Coach Cael’s Kids, I’d look brilliant.  But, not as brilliant as Coach Cael !

            This wonderful human has harnessed a concept that most of us take for granted.  FUN is a big part of what we have to offer to today’s youth… tomorrow’s Olympic Champions.

            Coach Cael, like many of us, lived through a time in his career when the words wrestling and fun were not synonymous.  But, if you remember him, snapping his fingers, out of bounds, in the final seconds of his Olympic Championship… Coach Cael had definitely rediscovered fun.

            We all love to promote our sport, with focus on work ethic and self-determination.  Parents like to hear about wrestling’s values.  Kids like to know that, “Not everyone can do this”.  Yet, we find ourselves often frustrated, trying to understand these complicated 21st Century kids !

            I’m not sure if ‘Incorporating Fun’ into our philosophy of the sport is as simple as just saying the word more often, or if it requires us to re-invent the wheel.  I suspect, the answer is somewhere in between.

            I do think that Penn State’s focus on the word, fun, throughout their stunning success, invites us to think a little more deeply about our own philosophy and approach to the modern kids in our room.  We have all taken pride in our creativity, when it comes to drilling and technique.  We should be able to adapt the notion of fun into the work that’s paying off.

            Please don’t think I’ve gone all namby-pamby in my respect for sweat and pain.  I’m still a big fan of the Grind Match !  When I think about the scraps that go on, especially in the upper weights, in Penn State’s room, ‘Fun’ is not the first adjective I apply.

            But, then again…  I know I would have Fun being anywhere close to it.  Our kids, in their thumb-driven, watch it live on social media, world, are open to us using the word ‘Fun’ to describe the intensity.

            I know that Coach Clayton, in our Coach Education Program, is conscious of the need to define wrestling as ‘Fun’.  The current international literature, regarding wrestling development and pedagogy, spends much of its focus on the notion of ‘Fun’ in developing athletes.

            So, please, grind on this for awhile.  Share your ideas with the guy / gal down the road, with us in the region, with the coaches you trust, nationally and/or internationally.  Together, I think we can give Coach Cael the ultimate compliment in coaching… Steal his idea and make it ours !


            Be well.  I’ll work at getting you a shorter update, after next week’s meeting and before Vegas.







Weight Class







Marcus Santillanes-Volcano Vista






Mark Gonzales-Sandia






Michael Mascarenas-Cleveland






Noah Mirabel-Cleveland






Sam Martinez-Santa Fe






Jose Tapia- Capital






Nick Rino- Piedra Vista






Ryan Rochford- Rio Rancho






Orion Gutierrez-Rio Rancho






Richard Govea-Volcano Vista






Rowdy Robinson-Belen






Andres Villa-Goddard






Dylan Kuhn-Hobbs





Estevan Chavez-Belen


Senior Wrestler of the Year: Jose Tapia 

                                              Runner up: Michael Mascarenas


Coach of the Year: Evan Copeland Cleveland HS

Zia Wrestler Web Site - Go source of NM Wrestling News

Zia Wrestler Web Site Run by NM wrestlers Good Source of NM Wrestling news

Congratulations to our NM Kids Nationals All-Americans:


Bantam 50 - Jaxon Romero 4th place

Intermediate 103 - Tyler Reinhardt 5th place

Novice 65 - Elijah Sierra 7th place

Schoolboy 152 - Jacob Smith 6th


Bantam 50 - Jaxon Romero 3rd place

Intermediate 103 - Tyler Rienhardt 6th place

Novice 100 - Jude Postlethwait 8th place

Schoolboy 152 - Jacob Smith 7th place

Thank YOU! Coach Valenzuela for ALL your hard work on the event.

USA Wrestling News and Headlines

Cadet and Junior Nationals - New Mexico Competitors:

Cadet Freestyle & Greco Roman

Jonathan Gurule - 106 (2018 Greco All-American - 8th)

Diego Snell-Martinez - 126

Gabe Garcia - 195

Junior Freestyle & Greco - Roman

Daniel Vargas - 120

Joshua Vega - 120

James Emmer - 132

Devin Brown - 182

Austin Roman - 285

Cadet Women's Freestyle

Selvi Gallegos - 132

Junior Women's Freestyle

Selvi Gallegos - 132

Destiney Bailey - 144


Isaac Garcia Jr. - 120 Junior

Wes Rayburn - 138 Junior

Nick Rino - 145 Junior

Cody Manuelito - 170 Junior

Destiny Bailey - 132 Women Cadet


Coach Steve Baker

Coach Nathaniel Augustson

Escort Robert Bailey

Congratulations to our USAW Kids All-Americans:

Delayne Luster (Greco)

Adan Benavidez (Greco)

Soren Herzog (Double - Both Greco and Freestyle)

Tyler Reinhardt (Freestyle)

2018 USAW Kids Greco Nationals Results for New Mexico

Novice 98

DeLayne Luster's place is 8th

Novice 108

Tyler Reinhardt

Schoolboy 106

Adan Benavidez's place is 6th 

Schoolboy 106

Devin Montano

Schoolboy 136

Augustine Aguilar

Schoolboy 165

Soren Herzog's place is 5th


2018 USAW Kids Freestyle Nationals Results for New Mexico

Novice 98

DeLayne Luster

Novice 108

Tyler Reinhardt's place is 7th

Schoolboy 106

Adan Benavidez

Schoolboy 106

Devin Montano

Schoolboy 136

Augustine Aguilar

Schoolboy 165

Soren Herzog's place is 6th