Sunday, January 24, 2021

MWA - Letter to the Governor and Call to Action

Today, the Michigan Wrestling Association sent a letter to Governor Whitmer, the Michigan Department of Health, and other members of state leadership asking for interscholastic wrestling to be allowed to begin on February 1st in Michigan. If you support our message, we are asking for your help in advocating for all our student-athletes and coaches.
You can make a difference by doing the following:
  • Forward this message to the families of the student-athletes in your program and ask them to consider sharing it as well.
  • Contact Michigan state senators and representatives to support the push to provide our student-athletes and coaches with an opportunity to have a season this school year. Please share with them your thoughts and concerns while advocating for the young people in our state. Feel free to share our letter with them as well.

For the MDHHS, the contact email for Dr. Kalhdun is:

Link to contact Governor:

Michigan State Senators

Michigan House of Representatives

House Republicans - find your rep

Thank you, the wonderful sport of wrestling along with the opportunities that our student-athletes have in our state are not at all possible without you and the time and energy you put in.

MWA Executive Board and Regional Representatives 
RJ Boudro, MWA President                   Brad Anderson , West Region Representative
Ryan Gritter , Vice President                 Brian Martel , Central Region Representative
Tim Jones , Secretary                            Greg Mayer , East Region Representative
Doug Baird , Treasurer                           Bill Polk , Metro Region Representative
Chris Dunham , Membership Chair        Jaime Smith , North Region Representative
Casey Randolph , Member-at-Large      Matt Bishop , Tri-Cities Region Representative


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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Interview: Isaiah Thomas and the Coach T Podcast... Coaching, The Decision To Step Down, and the Pistons' Bad Boys

Michigan Wrestling Resource
recently caught up with Isaiah Thomas a former wrestler, coach, and official to discuss his new podcast, The Coach T Podcast, as well as his decision to step down from coaching, and lessons wrestling has imparted on him. Isaiah was an all-State and 2x letter winner at Muskegon Community College. He also was a Regional Coach of the Year at Bay City Western where he coached Two State Champs. His ability to step into different roles in our sport with the same passion and drive for success is a sign to me that the Coach T Podcast (and this interview) will be fire!

MWR: We have ten seconds, why should someone listen to your podcast? What’s in it for them? What kind of person would relate to your content?
Thomas: I believe with my experience I can give great insight to those interested in learning about Coaching from all three perspectives: Competitor, Coach and Official. The knowledge that they can gain from my experiences I believe would be very helpful. I’ve been very fortunate in my wrestling career to be involved with so many great wrestlers, coaches, and officials. I believe perspective is key to understand the sport and how to get the best out of your athletes, and understanding how officials make their calls. I believe any aspiring coach will relate very well to the content.

MWR: What is your goal or what do you hope to accomplish with this podcast?
Thomas: My goal is really to share my knowledge of the sport. When I step down from coaching I still felt like I had more to give. The podcast allows me to do that. There are many young coaches out there that are looking for guidance in their young careers. Hopefully I can be that guide for them.

MWR: You’ve been coaching wrestling for a while. Looking back over the years, what’s the most inspiring story or stories you’ve gotten to witness or be a part of?
There are way too many to list here. I would say one of the most inspiring stories that I was involved in was in 2014. Our state runner up at Bay City Western Chris Schoenherr broke his leg at football practice in late September. He worked his tail off to get back into the lineup late in the season. He along with his teammates helped us capture our first team regional title in 12 years. He went on to take fourth in the state. I will be highlighting this in one of my podcast talking about inspirational stories that I have either witnessed or have been a part of.

You’ve recently stepped down from coaching. Do you mind explaining that thought processes you went through to make that decision? What went into it, who was involved, and how you feel about it.
Thomas: For me I enjoy coaching. I enjoy being with my athletes. The time that you spend with them you become their dad, uncle, mentor, Cetra. I felt that it was the right time to step away because my family was getting older. I need to spend more time with them and being the head coach was very time consuming. If you want to be a great coach you have to sacrifice many things. I don’t regret my decision. It was the right decision for me and my family at the time. I did seek the counsel of other coaches before making my decision. I think when you decide to step away from a roll like the head coach getting advice from other coaches is very helpful. It was definitely helpful for me.

MWR: One of the great things about our sport is how it brings people together. You can’t go through wrestling without meeting a ton of people and forming friendships. Besides me, who are the coolest people you’ve met and where did you meet them?
Thomas: I believe throughout my wrestling career I have had the opportunity to meet so many great people. To list them all will have me leave someone out. But one things I’ve always loved about wrestling is it is a family. I have so many wrestling friends that when we see each other at a tournament it’s like a family reunion we come up and give each other a hug. We ask each other how our immediate family is doing. We stay connected through all of it. They’ve all helped me in one way or another become the person that I’ve become today. I am not a finished product but I am thankful for many of the people that were helping me along the way.

MWR: In your first episode, you mentioned the Detroit Pistons’ Isiah Thomas, leader of the Bad Boys and 2x NBA Champs. Without giving away what you said in the podcast, what role or influence did Isiah Thomas have in your life?
Thomas: Isiah Thomas and the bad boys really influence more of my coaching career than my athletic career. I think I leaned into their mentality of going out there competing at a high-level and not being afraid of who you’re stepping up to compete with. During my competitive years guys like my brother Mario Long, Kevin Jackson, Joe Williams, David Morgan, and numerous others really influence me with their wrestling style and their hard work. They gave me something to strive for.

MWR: What does the sport of wrestling mean to you and your life?
Thomas: The biggest lesson it taught me was how to persevere through adversity. When my brother died it was a very dark time for me and my family. Wrestling was there. Whether that was going to practice, competing on Fridays, or coaching the youth kids on Saturdays, it was always there for me. Making the Cadet national team and being around great people and coaches was also very helpful for me. I feel like wrestling is a reflection of life. You get out of it what you put in it. You were going to get knocked down and lose. It is not how you lose but how you handle that loss that defines who you are. One of the best compliments I ever had from any person that watch me wrestle was they were happy to see that I handled my wins and losses with class and dignity. And that’s a microcosm of what life is. Lose, adapt, get better for success.

MWR: That's an amazing perspective. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Thomas: Very thankful to my mentors over the past 20 years. Without them I wouldn’t of been as successful both on and off the mat. They are constant encouragement that kept me going and made it so I didn’t want to fail but ultimately be a successful as I could be.

MWR: Last questions, how often should we expect a new episode and what’s the best way to catch it?
Thomas: My goal is to release content at least once or twice a month. The goal is to cover things related to wrestling. My next episode which will come out in a month will talk about my paeans of youth wrestling and what you really need to make a youth program go well. I’m going to draw my experiences from when I coach youth wrestling at Everett, too when I coached at Mason for a couple years. Also I’ll be looking to interview people in the near future to talk about sports on general and their experiences.
The Coach T Podcast can be heard at Anchor, Spotify, Google Podcast, and many others! 
"The Coach T Podcast where we talk Coaching, and how to be a successful student athlete. I will share stories of my time be around some of the best wrestlers in the state, and the country."

Isaiah Thomas is former Coach and Official for the Sport of Wrestling. Born in raised in Lansing, Michigan. All State in High School at Lansing Everett, Two Year Varsity Letterwinner at Muskegon Community College, Ten Years as an Official for Youth/Middle/School, Regional Head Coach of the Year Recipient in 2017 at Bay City Western, Coached Two State Champs, and 11 State Placers.

Looking for a competitive edge this season? Check these out:
Disclaimer: MWR receives NO compensation for promotion of the Coach T Podcast, Mills Wrestling, or Your Greatest Season. We do this because it aligns with our mission: to grow and support wrestling.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Michigan Wrestling Resource's Nutrition Guide for Wrestlers

It happens every year. It's usually drawn out, rarely changes, and makes most of us doze off. The mandatory nutrition meeting. Another year of packing an hour of cherry picked information into an informal meeting and calling it "nutrition education".  Don't get me wrong... I'm glad the MHSAA is trying. Nutrition is crucial to the sport of wrestling, but little Johnny Freshman is still going to go to stud Taylor Senior to ask how he should go about cutting weight... the same Taylor Senior who gassed in the blood round at Regionals. The same Taylor Senior who has likely ignored all the "advice" in the mandatory nutrition meeting for the fourth year in a row.

This issue has absolutely annoyed me for 16 years. Back to when I was a freshman in high school listening to the nutrition meeting and wondering how in the heck am I supposed to remember all this, let alone actually implement it. Cutting weight and doing nutrition the wrong way proved to be much easier than what the mandatory meeting suggested.

I finally decided to do something about it and created a practical guide to nutrition for wrestlers who want to set themselves a part and crush their opponents this season. And it's yours 100% free!

Michigan Wrestling Resource's 
Nutrition Guide for Wrestlers

Monday, January 11, 2021

Power and Toughness: Dan Gable's Winning Formula for Wrestling

The follow article was printed in the Forest Hills Central Wrestling Clinic Program featuring Dan Gable in the fall of 1997. It has been edited for grammatical accuracy and syntax. 


Do you want to know the secret to be a winning Wrestler? There are two vital ingredients, and they're no secret. You've got to know what you're doing - know the techniques, the positions, the moves, know where you are every minute on the mat. And you've got to be in top physical condition to be able to make those right moves.

Anybody can say, "Okay, now I know what it takes to be a wrestler." But the boys who go to the top are the ones who realize it takes lots of extra effort, more than what the average athlete is willing to make. The Olympic quality wrestler is the one who works out every morning, who goes out and runs 2 to 2-1/2 miles before school. He is the one who sets up a program of weightlifting for himself and follows it, both off-season and on.

It's his attitude that sets him apart and helps him to the top. First, he gets satisfaction from knowing that he's out there doing his best. Of course, winning will give you more satisfaction than losing, but in sports, there is always a winner and always a loser. If you know you're doing the best you can, that's the most you can demand from yourself. The winning will take care of itself.
The winning wrestler shows he is willing to give extra effort by designing his everyday life around his wrestling goals. This is what I did. I had a job in the summer; it was a job that would help my wrestling, maybe a hard construction job to help my strength and conditioning. If you think you're going to be the best, you need complete, total dedication.

You've got that complete sense of devotion to your sport; it will show up in your attitude toward practice. The most important thing is being on time to practice every day and working hard at that practice. And during the season, listen carefully to your coach. He will give you a good training program to follow.

Whether your coach gives you an outside conditioning program or making up your own, you must do more than what you do in actual practice time. When he leaves the room, every athlete at practice must wait 24 hours until he gets back. If he waits this long, he is going to be the same as every other kid. If you're one who wants to, you will be out there running in the morning and lifting weights.

When I see wrestlers walk onto the mat, I know who will win; the confident one. There is only one way to have a lot of confidence, and that's to have a very tough mind, and that's to be physically prepared and in superior condition.

You can learn a lot from your own mistakes, in wrestling as in any sport. It's one of the best ways to learn. I've always seen so many guys in practice get flipped onto their backs in a "danger" position, and instead of fighting and learning how to get off their backs, they will stop and say, "Well, you got me, let's start over again." Then they get into a match and get flipped on their backs and don't know what to do. They aren't learning from their mistakes.

If a guy takes me in a certain move, I'll get back up and get into the same position he took me from because I want to learn how to counter that. So, he takes me down, and I get back up, get in the same position, and he takes me again. Maybe the fourth time he doesn't take me, I have learned a little bit. I learned how to counter him, and until I do that, I'm going to get in trouble. Everybody has the right to make a mistake. But if you go out and keep making the same mistake, you're not learning anything.

As a wrestler, you need the power to move your opponent around the mat. You've got to pull him out and control him, push him to one side or turn him around, or ride him. It's the position where you lock your hands around your opponent's back and make him go where you want.

To build this power, I recommend chin-ups, push-ups, and bent rowing with 40-pound dumbbells. Do three sets of chin-ups and push-ups until you can do no more. No limit. Try three sets in the morning and three sets at night to increase your strength. As for the rowing exercise, assume a slightly bent over position with your legs flexed at the knees and the weight held with arms straight in front. Rotate the barbell down and towards the chest, and then up and away from your body, flexing your arms at the elbows. Do three sets of maximum repetitions.

Monday, November 23, 2020

A reality check on the proper relationship between wrestling coaches, and wrestling parents...

Article by Neil Kiernan

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Don't tell parents to "trust the process" make them part of the process. 

There has been a consistent trend in the conversations surrounding youth sports. There is a lot of talk of what is considered to be a crisis of burnout and lack of interest in youth sports. The coaching community seems to of decided the best way to handle the issue is to place the blame squarely on parents. 

According to Wade Schalles and Ben Askren wrestling retains about 40% of it's participants after two years of participation in wrestling. While I have never looked at any hard statistics my personal experience would give me a an inclination to believe it. 

The most prevalent theory as to why is generally that parents are over-pushing kids. And that they should sit back and "trust the process". This picture has been circulating from a lot of coaches recently and it compelled me to start this blog rather then having to type out my observations over and over again. 

There are several problems with this philosophy that don't really emerge as practical in youth wrestling in particular. But let me take a quick detour to address first why I think the burnout problem is happening. 

It is certainly true that over-pushing parents can burnout an athlete. I have come to understand though that simply scapegoating this as the issue is not intellectually honest. When I speak to a lot of former wrestlers I have known over the years they usually talked about frustration when it came to their success in the sport. They were not progressing as fast or effectively as their competition and as a result the sport simply stopped being fun. I won't go too deep into this topic on this particular blog, but I strongly believe that the real reason many kids burnout is that wrestling's competition model and the way pairing is handled is the true core of what is causing wrestling to have problems with retention. That will be a subject for another blog. But the short form is this. Wrestling is the only combat sport that I know of that kicks kids who have been doing it for ten years into matches with kids who have done it for one year and expects it to be "fun" for both parties. We effectively put "black belts" in wrestling in the same competition as "white belts" in wrestling.  And rather then addressing this issue, people in the wrestling community tend to romanticize the issue. Saying things like "Oh well wrestlers are a rare breed... not everyone can do this..." kind of implying that the reason kids can't hang with the competition pairing model is they are simply not tough enough. Well, considering how many former wrestlers who I have met who are now boxers, I would say that's nonsense. In conclusion, I believe the reason why wrestling loses 60% of participants within two years of participation has more correlation with the fact that in many states a new wrestlers eligibility for the "novice" or "beginner" divisions ends around that time. And they are thrown to the wolves afterward. 

So, coming back to the core issue, lets address the statements in this picture: 

To be blunt, not all coaches/programs are created equal. We say "trust the process" assuming that no matter what program your wrestler is in, no matter who their coach is, no matter what partners they have, that they are guaranteed success. 

It's just not true. At all. 

Before too many people get angry and stop reading, let me try and break some of this down with science. 

In my own quest to see what I could do to optimize my son and daughter's potential in wrestling I studied about sports genetics, and sports performance science. I learned a lot about what is genetic and what is trainable in any athletic endeavor. I recommend this book: 

The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance Science

This book will help you understand in detail specifically what genetics plays a role in and what it does not. It details real world examples of athletes who performed well solely due to genetics and those who instead mastered the craft of their sport to have success.