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Around Our Town...Casper's Cool Kids

Windy City Wrestlers

03/01/2006 - by Tami Watts

Inside a large, green and yellow padded room at Kelly Walsh High School about sixty boys from ages three through high school are double legging, chicken winging and cow catching. These boys are the Windy City Wrestlers. They know how to produce a lot of heat and enthusiasm.

Windy City Wrestlers, one of three wrestling clubs in Casper, once was the Casper Boy's Club (CBC). It met in the former Boy's and Girl's Club next to Clear Channel Radio. About ten years ago, this club moved to Kelly Walsh and became the Windy City Wrestlers. "It is a feeder for both KW and NC," notes Coach Kevin Dillon, also president of the club.

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"Clubs like these put the drive into the young children so they go on to compete at when they're older," explains board member Shana Hoffman. Her son, Brendan, started wrestling at three and is now going strong in the 7-8 year old 55 pound division.

While it is helpful to start kids wrestling at an early age, it is not to late to start older ones who are showing interest. Michael Emery didn't get started until he was ten. His mother, Sarah Emery, also a board member of the club, has watched him improve tremendously. In one year's time, Michael has gone from being out of the match in seconds to wrestling all six minutes. Now Michael is only a few points from winning his first match. "It's a big confidence builder:", says Sarah.

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The wrestling club has prepared Michael to wrestle as a sixth grader at CY. "The first year I lost every single match BUT I got determined and came back for the second year," shares Michael. This fine young man reflects one of the aims of the club - character building. Sarah and her husband Aaron (who wrestled for NC) have every right to be proud of their determined son.

Jeff and Tammy Stenhaug's fourteen year old son Chris came across wrestling when he was practicing for judo at age nine. Chris has given Michael Emery some helpful tips. "I tried to teach him anything I could - things to motivate him, things to help him on the mat." Chris is working toward becoming a college wrestler and afterward a wrestling coach. With the big support of his parents and the talent he is showing, these are realistic goals for this fine mentor.

In the club, kids learn and compete in three styles of wrestling: folkstyle, freestyle and Greco Roman. Each style has its own holds, moves and point systems.

Windy City Wrestlers has turned out many successful wrestlers. Nic Dillon, Zac Dillon and Sarah Tolin are a few examples. While this club has seen its share of wins, it focuses on more than winning. "We stress good sportsmanship, self control, healthy eating, hydration and no weight cutting," notes Coach Dillon. "We give hydration tests. We are serious about our kids being healthy and hydrated."

Wrestling can be quite a family sport. Many family members cheer from the bleachers. It is not uncommon to see fathers coaching, moms organizing and filming tournaments and sisters working as runners, towel tappers and timers.

Within a season (February 1 through the end of June), the club becomes one big, close-knit family. They cheer for each other's children at tournaments in other Wyoming towns and at home. They enjoy monthly potlucks together.

"Nobody gets paid. We are all volunteers. It's all about the kids," comments Tyler Hoffman, Brendan Hoffman's dad and one of the certified coaches. Coach Dillon, a volunteer coach for sixteen years, lists what motivates him: "the love of the sport, love for the kids, friendship and camaraderie." It takes several volunteers coaching, carpooling and keeping the club running smoothly. Dedicated parents play a big part in the success of the Windy City Wrestlers.

Dave Crossan, vice president of the club, points out "It's not just Windy City that works hard to improve and compete, it's all of the clubs in Casper." Windy City Wrestlers along with Casper Wrestling and Brown's Club strengthen our community. These clubs help our kids become healthy, confident and emotionally strong. To the wrestling clubs and wrestling families of Casper, we thank you for your positive contributions.

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