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Y2CJ41

NFHS looking to reduce weight classes

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11 hours ago, davecloud said:

Agree with Joe. Cutting weight classes won't solve the problem. I know it is difficult, time consuming, often frustrating and not what we should have to do as coaches, in a perfect world. In a perfect world 50 to 60 kids would show up every year after putting in a vigorous off-season of hard work. But that's not the world we live in. I try to talk to at least one kid each day who is not in my program about going out for wrestling. We normally have close to 50 wrestlers, sometimes more, to start the season. Some of them drop out since we have a larger number of newbies but we normally end up well over 40 on the roster by Sectional. Barry Humble got huge numbers at Adams Central. It was then a very small school. It will never be easy to get large numbers but it is worth the effort. 

Let's point this discussion in a new direction. Let's hear from the coaches with solid numbers what you do to build the program.

1) As I said in my post, try to talk to at least one kid per day from the start of school until season starts (over 50 days) and from the end of the season until the end of school (about another 55). Often I will speak to the same kid several times but with all those contacts it is hard not to get at least a few extra recruits each season.

2) Coaching another sport can help. I coached high school football for over 30 years and then moved to middle school four years ago (love the shorter season that ends before Fall break!). Our middle school numbers have jumped since I get to pump the sport every day (Wow, that was a great tackle. I bet you would have a mean double leg.)

3) We have a bowling party every year after County tournament. I get a cheap trophy with a wrestler and a bowling pin on it. 

4) I make sure to get the cut lists from freshman and middle school basketball teams. We also encourage middle school basketball players to come out after the season (got IHSAA fifth and sixth place finishers that way). 

5) I send a letter to every eighth grade wrestler welcoming them to our summer program, encouraging them to play a fall sport and try to meet up with them at the start of their freshman year. Next season I am sending a recruiting e-mail to the student e-mail account of ever Why incoming freshman student (girls and boys). 

6) Get your kids exposure whenever possible. We name a Wrestler of the Meet on announcements (thanks Q!), nominate them for school programs (we have two on the Student Athletic Council), make sure to get your kids Academic All-State recognition. I make sure to fill out the recommendation forms for National Honor Society for each wrestler nominated. The Marines now have an academic certificate for wrestlers. 

There are more but I want to hear what you guys are doing. If you ever get a chance, talk to Danny Struck about building a program. His numbers are amazing and he builds a true sense of belonging for his kids. We don't need to get to 50 on the roster to succeed. If you currently have 15 and get to 20 that is big. Add one or two a year and you will have a sizable roster pretty quickly. Let's stop waiting for our ship to come in and swim out to it! 

The article uploaded below is about what teams do to build camaraderie. 

recruiting article.docx

Great ideas, Dave!

I've had up years and down years with  numbers over my career, but more up than down recently and there's only one real reason why: The focus of the culture is on developing good young men, having fun, and winning along the way....in that order. Still have days/weeks/moments when I lose sight of why I do this and think my only purpose is to build a team that wins championship, and that's definitely part of what I want to do, but ensuring they're having fun has to be goal #1. Even with this in mind, in a decade of coaching, I've still never had a team that didn't have at least 2-3 kids quit, sometimes there's nothing you can do, the sport just isn't for everyone.

Here's a few things I've found works:

1) Make Dual Meets fun! If the student body gets fired up about going to a wrestling dual, more athletes will want to be a part of the program. A major disadvantage we have is that we aren't a "glory" sport, but shining a light on the hard work the boys do helps with recruitment and more importantly, with retention. Look at what Brownsburg has done in their turnaround there. Turned the sport into an event that is must-see. You think it's a coincidence they have stud football players showing up in the room winning state titles? 

2) Monthly, in season or out, we try to do something as a team that is fun. Go to Cedar Point. Take the team to the Indiana Dunes. Go camping. Team Camaraderie goes a long way when interested kids ask current wrestlers why they wrestle. If they respond, "It sucks, but I love it," you may have an issue recruiting new kids. When they say, "I wrestle because it's fun," something has gone right.

3) Involve yourself in the feeder programs. We have 4 Middle Schools, 2 feed 98% of their students to us at HSE, the other 2 are split between us and Fishers,It'd be easy to ignore the other 2 schools as 80% of their kids go to Fishers HS, but I try to run a practice or 2 at each MS immediately following the HS season. And I make it fun! I try to get to know the MS Athlete when they're in 7th grade, so when I reach out as they are incoming, they already know me. This was a lot easier at Mooresville with 1 MS, but I have a great involved staff of Assistants that help out and attend MS events and practices as well so that they're always seeing someone with HSE wrestling gear on in their corner.

4) Spend time, as a head coach, with your JV kids. Not just on the mat, but off the mat too. A lot of coaches have a tendency to focus on the best wrestlers (State Qualifiers and Placers make us look good), but I've been around to see what happens to a program when the emphasis is only on the Varsity kids winning as much as possible and the JV kids get run off. What happens when those Varsity kids graduate? You wind up with a lot more holes in the line-up than you should have because average wrestlers or developmental kids who may have turned into a solid starter leave because they didn't feel anyone cared about their success. I attend every JV event that doesn't conflict with a Varsity one. I may be late due to practice or Youth Club, but I show up to show the kids that I care, and I have 3-4 Assistant Coaches that understand why working with these less capable wrestlers is important and do a great job in practice and at meets. In my experience, these are some of the most valuable people to surround your kids with.

I'm going start stealing some of the ideas Dave uses as well. 

Ultimately, you have to find what works for each school. All 3 that I've worked at have been different, but ultimately, the #1 reason kids do a sport is to have fun. Sometimes, it's hard to remember that, but if you do, growth isn't far behind.

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39 minutes ago, Y2CJ41 said:

The problem with this is that we have many lay coaches who aren't in the building all day long. Wrestling it seems has quite a few lay coaches and that does not help with recruiting and retention of athletes.

Probably have to find non-creepy ways to get around kids outside of wrestling practice days...Taking your MS and HS wrestlers to support other sports' teams, the bowling tournament or similar idea as an open event sponsored by the wrestling team, developing relationship with other sports' coaches and school administrators and getting permission to come in and do pitches during school or other sports' practices...etc.

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Posted (edited)

For sure, being a lay coach makes it more difficult to reach the kids. So let's hear from some our lay coaches who have good numbers. How do you reach kids? I send an e-mail to every sixth grade boy to get them info on joining football and wrestling. The school sends my approved e-mail for me. My middle school principal even had mailing labels printed so I can send every kid a letter, too.

Edited by davecloud

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Thanks Nick and Maligned for contributing to the conversation. Like the bowling tournament idea. We have three elementary schools so I am looking for a way to reach out to them to get the sixth graders into the middle school program.

Nick: Steal away. Almost surely stole all of them myself!!

 

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4 hours ago, davecloud said:

For sure, being a lay coach makes it more difficult to reach the kids. So let's hear from some our lay coaches who have good numbers. How do you reach kids? I send an e-mail to every sixth grade boy to get them info on joining football and wrestling. The school sends my approved e-mail for me. My middle school principal even had mailing labels printed so I can send every kid a letter, too.

Adman Central has had a lay head coach for last 12 years. We hold a free elementary camp each season right before club sign ups. This is always well attended and we pick up some new kids for the club each year. We had 75 elementary club kids this year, our biggest numbers maybe ever. Solid numbers for a 1A school. 

The other big thing is to build relationships and be visible year round. The youth baseball fields is the place to be in Monroe all summer. Visibility and relationships may be a little easier in a small community where the coaches have grown up. 

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This solves nothing. It creates less opportunity. This will reduce number of wrestlers in state. The competitive teams where guys are battling every day for a spot will lose guys. The 13 weights hurts a little. 12 weights is a killer. We need more opportunities not less. Athletic directors need to step up and do more for the wrestling teams for the struggling teams. That would help the coaches do more. That is a better solution than reducing weights. 

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As to the 12 weight classes - hard to believe that a wrestling-focused state like Pennsylvania is proposing this change.

With 14 weight classes, there is a better chance of having more wrestlers close to their natural weight.  Other than opportunities for 2 additional wrestlers in tournaments, the only event that I can think of that would be affected is the dual meet.  Now, it is nice to win some dual meets, but at the expense of losing 2 additional spots for kids to be varsity wrestlers??  Doesn't make sense to me.

I do like Joe's proposal to allow teams to enter more wrestlers at the sectional level

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13 hours ago, base said:

As to the 12 weight classes - hard to believe that a wrestling-focused state like Pennsylvania is proposing this change.

With 14 weight classes, there is a better chance of having more wrestlers close to their natural weight.  Other than opportunities for 2 additional wrestlers in tournaments, the only event that I can think of that would be affected is the dual meet.  Now, it is nice to win some dual meets, but at the expense of losing 2 additional spots for kids to be varsity wrestlers??  Doesn't make sense to me.

I do like Joe's proposal to allow teams to enter more wrestlers at the sectional level

Pennsylvania has been pushing for a reduction since I was on the NFHS rules committee years ago. While it is a relatively large state with large metro areas like Philly and Pittsburgh, the middle portion of the state is very rural with lots of small towns and schools. I disagree strongly with the desire to cut weights but that is a big reason why PA pushes for a reduction.  

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"Bad teams" that can't fill all weight classes...does that make them a BAD team...they may have quality guys without a full roster.

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7 hours ago, GMSCoach said:

"Bad teams" that can't fill all weight classes...does that make them a BAD team...they may have quality guys without a full roster.

I’m with ya. We never could keep a HWT out this season. I guess that makes Avon a “bad” team then. Sometimes it is what it is.

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