Even if wrestling season will not start until the winter, summer break provides the perfect time for current and aspiring wrestlers to brush up on their skills. To make sure kids of all ages had the best wrestling experience possible, Muscatine High School wrestling coach Joseph Kane organized the Muskie Wrestling Camp, a two-day event which took place on the mornings of August 1st and 2nd. With several of the best college aged wrestlers in the area acting as guest instructors, the camp gave kids of all ages a chance to get into the ring and develop their technique.
A popular sport across Iowa, Muscatine has many young wrestlers, both at the Little Muskie and high school levels. Wanting to help the youngest athletes learn how to compete at the high school level, and older athletes to discover what it takes to continue competing in college, he organized a camp to meet all of these needs. In his own words, “Muscatine Wrestling recognizes the importance of linking the high school wrestlers with the younger Little Muskies’ wrestlers and with current college wrestlers around Iowa.”
With this goal in mind, Kane designed a camp to focus on fundamental skills while still letting participants see what wrestling at every level looks like. For the two-day camp, approximately forty kids ranging in age from second graders to seniors in high school, met at the high school from 8:00 am to noon. For these four hours, wrestlers worked on developing the core skills they need to succeed at their level and the next level of competition. “With beginners and younger kids, we focus on the basics and fundamentals. With our advanced wrestlers we also focus on the basics and fundamentals, because basics beat the best and fundamentals are always first. The difference lies in how technical we get with the details and steps for each technique, but the little kids are learning the same skills as the older kids,” explained Kane.
Just as the high school wrestlers set a positive example for the Little Muskies’ Wrestlers, several college aged wrestlers helped lead the camp, providing good role models for everyone involved. During the camp, Eddie Smith, NCAA Division Three All-American at Loras College and three time high school state placer; Kevin Kelly, two time NCAA Division Three National Qualifier at Loras College, NAIA All-American, overall winner in Loras’ regional and Cali JUCO Champ; and Brennan Swafford, NAIA All-American at Graceland University, four time Iowa high school state placer, and two time Iowa high school state finalist assisted students and helped coaches teach.
With this year’s Muskie Wrestling Camp completed, Kane believed the program went well, and believes that with continued community support, it can become a summer staple. “I feel grateful for all the support in this community to help make our summer wrestling camp a reality. This would not be possible without the efforts of assistant coaches and parent supporters. I want to make this camp an annual tradition and continue to build bridges with Muscatine’s high school wrestlers and youth wrestlers.”