Welcome to another year of Mat Talk, and this is a very special year, indeed. Today marks the 30th year of the column. Boy, does time move forward?
For me, the season started in September when I began my WVSSAC rules clinics for coaches and officials all over the Mountain State.
I completed my rules clinic tour at the end of October, but there was still no break before the season begins. I was then busy promoting wrestling clinics for the area's legendary Bobby Douglas. He conducted technical and highly motivational mat demonstrations in Parkersburg and Wheeling.
In Wheeling, Bobby was assisted by ultra-successful Oak Glen coach Larry Shaw and yours truly at Wheeling Park High School. The clinic was dubbed the "2007 Wrestling Academy of Technical and Tactical Skills." Larry demonstrated essential wrestling moves, Bobby stressed the various takedown strategies and developing a winning attitude, and I shared my Pancake Series with those in attendance.
Our plan for next year is to conduct a similar Douglas wrestling school on the Ohio side, incorporating the additional services of a prominent Buckeye state scholastic coach.
But my clinical work was still not complete.
A week after the Wheeling clinic, I headed for my hometown (Shamokin, PA). While there, I had the opportunity to speak to the wrestling parents of my alma mater on Friday night. I stressed the importance of positive parent-involvement in their off-springs scholastic mat sport endeavors.
On Saturday morning, I conducted a 2-hour instructional session with over 60 k-12 Shamokin-area grapplers. I discussed proper weight-loss programs, the basics skills needed to be a successful wrestler, the extreme significance of "drilling" until skills are perfected.
Regarding hands-on mat instruction, I concentrated on the neutral position. There I demonstrated various single-leg and double-leg maneuvers, which are the "bread-and-butter" takedowns of all great wrestlers.
I then explained that every wrestler should possess a third "surprise" takedown, much like the "trick" play in football. This would include such "take-to-the-mat" moves as the shrug, duck-under, arm-drag, fireman's carry, etc. Of course, for me, it was the Pancake Series, which I demonstrated in detail. The wrestlers enjoyed practicing the move and its variations.
I ended the mini-clinic with a narration on Bobby Douglas's wrestling saga. Coach Douglas will be conducting a two-session clinic at Shamokin High next year in November.
Yes, it's been a busy fall, but I can't wait for the first whistle of competition, signaling the start of another exciting wrestling season.
THE NEW NEUTRAL SIGNAL FOR WRESTLERS
This year the top wrestler can indicate the neutral signal, raising both of his arms, anytime wrestling action has stopped. This means that he is willing to give his opponent an escape point, rather than trying to ride him. At this point, wrestling will continue in the neutral position.
Q: Wrestler A asks to take the optional offensive starting position after he and his opponent go out of bounds. The official informs him that since he can now give his opponent an escape rather than trying to ride him, the optional offensive starting position is no longer an option. Is the official correct?
A: Absolutely, not. A wrestler can still use the optional offensive starting position because some wrestlers use it to start their unique riding strategies.
The Coach Joe Thomas OVAC Wrestler of the Week and the Deaton-Regis Picks of the Week by Larry Deaton - dean of Ohio Valley wrestling officials - and Jack Regis - another longtime OVAC mat arbiter - will return to this space as the mat season picks up steam. This year we will also include the "OVAC Wrestling Fan of the Week." This week's OVAC Wrestling Fan is JOEY MAROON of St. Clairsville.
WV Hall of Fame Notes
This year's 5th annual National Wrestling Hall of Fame (WV Chapter) Banquet held at the Embassy Suites in Charleston on October 28th was the best ever.
Bridgeport, Ohio mat legend Bobby Douglas, a distinguished member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, presented each of the inductees with their plaques. Bobby was most pleased with presenting the late George Kovalick's plaque to his devoted wife, Evelyn. Legendary Coach Kovalick was Douglas's Bridgeport High School and college wrestling mentor at WLSC.
Jim Potts, a coaching legend at Cameron High School, was also inducted for his numerous contributions to WV wrestling. He is still involved with the mat sport, sharing his wrestling expertise with Cameron's junior high wrestlers.
The officers did a tremendous job organizing the affair, which included the presence of the Honorable Governor Joe Manchin, who was there to accept the award on behalf of his uncle, the late A. James Manchin, a successful wrestling coach in his younger years.
Officers Bill Archer (ultra-successful coach at Huntington HS) and his loving wife, Diana, were also inducted to the Hall. Diana Archer, dubbed the "first lady" of WV wrestling, is the first female inductee in the Hall's history. Her contributions and dedication to wrestling, especially at the state tournament held in Huntington every year, puts Diana Archer in a "class" all by herself.
The Wrestling Drill Book edited and authored by Bill Welker, with nearly 12,000 sold nationwide, would be a great Christmas gift for your favorite wrestler! To purchase an autographed copy of The Wrestling Drill Book, just send a check or money order for $25.00 (shipping and handling is included) made payable to:
110 North Huron Street
Wheeling, West Virginia 26003
Don't forget to send your return address and any personal note you want Bill Welker to write with his autograph. He will accept book requests until December 20, for The Wrestling Drill Book to arrive in your hands before Christmas!
"Anyone can make a mistake. A fool insists on repeating it."
(Dr. Bill Welker can be reached via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org