Our season officially begins this weekend. We will be on the road Saturday at Gardner-Webb where we will also wrestle against Virginia. The following day we will face Appalachian State in Boone, NC. It will be our first test as a team. I believe we will show improvement from where we were at as a program last fall. The guys did a better job over the summer and thus were more prepared for the fall preseason and early in season training.
I do know we still have a long way to go, but we are making progress. I am trying to get guys to see a bigger picture. I am trying to get them to see how one person’s actions, positive and/or negative, affect others. College wrestling, this program, our current team, all are affected by the decisions each individual makes. If one guy, volunteers to help others it reflects positively on our program. By reaching out to another the image of our sport can be improved. Conversely, if one guy is not going to class or making bad life decisions, it hurts more than him. It can create bad stereotypes on college wrestling. Heck, it can even get a program dropped.
This past month has been quite busy. The early signing period for recruits is approaching quickly. It can be a stressful time for all involved, but nevertheless it is important to work hard and make good choices.
I also worked a few youth wrestling clinics and spoke at the Missouri Wrestling Coaches clinic. I hope I did well at these events and made it worth the time others spent attending the events. I know it helped me. I learned as I prepared and learned from others at the events.
Two long grueling days were spent in Chicago with 75 other D1 coaches and administrators. It was pretty special to have so many coaches in the room together. Coaches were very engaged. It was a frustrating process of discussing, voting, discussing, voting… My hope is that we keep fighting to move the sport forward. We need to keep working to better college wrestling. I think we will.
The guys on the team worked hard last month. Our team motto of “twice a day every day is the Mason way,” is starting to be embraced. Being great in this sport is not easy. There is no easy road to success. Being great in this sport can be a lonely arduous process. Much of the work is done on your own when no one is looking. Early morning runs, extra time working on technique, watching film, doing a little more strength training before the day ends. 1% improvement each day pays great dividends.
We held team wrestle offs this weekend. I wanted the guys to make weight once before it really mattered. I know it will help them next week. I do believe some guys weight was too high and thus negatively affected their performance. They need to do a better job of doing the little things right in regard to nutrition. The concepts are easy to understand, the discipline to do it is more difficult. Sadly, I know this all too well in my personal life.
I was pleased with the wrestle-offs. We were able to see things we need to work on as a team. It was good to see the guys in a competitive environment. I was excited to see a good turnout of people to watch the matches. Personally, I am not a big fan of wrestle offs. I think it is an easy way to pick starters, but I don’t think it is the best way. I would rather use how they perform against outside competition. I would rather use how they prepare.
After the wrestle offs, I told the team nothing has been determined by these matches. It helps us gauge where we are at, but we still have other tests to see who will ultimately represent the team at the CAA and NCAA tournaments. We will use the early dual meets and tournaments to further flush out who will be the 10 starters. We will also use their performance in the classroom, in the practice room and in their personal lives to determine who will represent George Mason University in March.
Our entire team helped with the NWCA All-Star meet on November 3. Most of the guys helped at a kid’s clinic held in conjunction with the event. The team made a positive impact. Jake Kettler had the honor of wrestling in the event. He wrestled a bad match. His opponent wrestled a great match. It was a tough night for him. The good thing is it is early in the year and he can certainly fix the mental and technical mistakes. He can improve. Several of the guys attended the event which should benefit them down the road. As a wrestling fan, it was fun seeing a first class event in a sold out arena.
On Tuesday, Election Day, we will be at the Paul Maltagliati Memorial Golf tournament. This event will raise money for our wrestling club. I am excited to be at the event. Paul started something special in the Patriot Elite Wrestling Club.
We have started a Pin Club at George Mason this year. The Pin Club should be fun for all involved. Basically we will collect pledges from people who will donate for every pin we get this year in official competitions. My hope is it will also serve as an added incentive for guys to pin their opponents. I know we have enjoyed talking about it at practice. It should be fun for the guys on the team. Tommy and I have both made pledges to the Pin Club. Hopefully others will join us.
Our first home dual meet will be on November 18. We are hopeful to sale lots of season tickets. By having a good number of season ticket holders, we make a good statement to our administration. It helps our program. Another benefit is that season ticket sales go directly to supporting student-athlete scholarships.
The school helped us produce schedule posters this year. The team took a photo at the George Mason Statue in Washington DC. The poster will help us promote the program. If you want a poster, please stop by the wrestling office soon. They are going fast.