One of the original Olympic sports is finding new life in a Columbia Valley school.
Since late November, 13 Grade 6 and 7 students at Martin Morigeau Elementary School have been training as part of the school’s new wrestling team – one of only two running at the elementary level in School District 6.
The team was inspired by a similar effort at Golden’s Lady Grey Elementary, explains principal and head coach Gail Rines.
“We wanted to put together a team so the two teams could challenge each other,” she says. When she approached Martin Morgeau’s older students with the idea “they were all so enthusiastic I thought, ‘we have to do this.'”
Rines is no stranger to the sport herself. Her son is a longtime wrestler, and she estimates she’s spent over 15 years ringside.
“It’s a great sport,” she says. “It’s good for endurance, strength and fitness.”
To help the team get a better grasp on the sport, members of the University of Calgary wrestlers visited the school this month to run a practice, something Rines is hoping will continue in the new year.
Students are still in the process of learning the sport’s various moves, but members of the new team say they’re liking what they’ve seen so far.
“It’s pretty different from the wrestling you see on TV, where they smash each other with chairs,” says Grade 7 student West Fiddler. “It’s the Olympic style, and it’s pretty fun.”
Kyle Holubeck, another Grade 7 team member, says his two favourite moves so far are the half nelson and cross face.
“If the half nelson doesn’t work, you can use the cross face and make (your opponent) look like they’ve got bunny ears,” he explains.
Unlike the Lady Grey team, Martin Morigeau also has five female wrestlers among its numbers.
“The girls were so keen we couldn’t say no,” says Rines.
Grade 6 student Amber Haller says she watched her brothers wrestle and liked the moves they would use.
“I’ve always wanted to wrestle,” she adds.
The school wrestling season typically begins in late November and runs into spring. Canal Flats and Golden are planning a first match for the students in mid-January.