Here is something interesting that people in the wrestling circles of New Jersey are talking about.

On the New Jersey Wrestling Forum Facebook page, William Holmes issued the following post on June 9, 2021 (note that the below quotes are not corrected for grammar/spelling and are quoted on ESN exactly how matters were posted on Facebook):

William Holmes said: “Since the pandemic has slowly started to lift I’ve been hearing/reading some complaints about wrestling: Re: Half filled brackets, duals with a smaller number of teams, camps and clinics not filling up…

This is partly due to the pandemic.

But this is also a glimpse into what wrestling would be like without the Rec programs.

I know most people who join wrestling forums take the sport more seriously and likely have someone in their family who has experienced success in wrestling.

But not everyone can be a state champ. Most posts on wrestling forums tend to be about how can I get better, why kids should do international styles,  or what it takes to become a champ.

But very few posts on how to grow the sport and get new kids into the sport.

If you want to see more filled out brackets next year, or bigger dual tournaments, or increased participation in international style events, or increased participation in clubs…

Encourage growth at the town level. Get involved with your local program. Grab a new kid or family and encourage them to try it out.

Sell the sport without mentioning the words championship, medals, or titles.

If you’re really about growing the sport you’ll go all in into helping your local program next season when we hopefully will be able to wrestle at the local schools and community centers.

Growth starts at the ground level. Your state championship won’t hold the value it used to have if Rec programs die off.

The number of schools merging or dropping wrestling is concerning, to put it mildly. But this is a trend that can be stopped.

Don’t lose the forest from the trees.”

Below are some responses to Holmes’s post: 

Michael Charles said: “While I agree with you I also here a legitimate argument from parents and kids in the travel scene.

For example, Rec teams are usually pretty strict about how many practices you need to make each week in order to be on the dual team, but the truth of the matter is 3xs a week is asking a lot of a year round wrestler who has devoted him or herself to the sport….just so he or she can benefit others who chose not to wrestle in the off season. There needs to be a give and take not just a take. The fact remains that 3 days a week in a room with mostly seasonal wrestlers is not the same as going live with 4 partners who wrestle year round.”

William Holmes responded to Michael, by saying: “Michael Charles  I coach a Rec program in south jersey, and had a few wrestlers who did club. There were a few who were really elite, I just asked them for 1-2 days a week, and they obliged.

My kids do club too, but we dedicated our time and focus to the local program during the winter. Because we realize that our local program growing is way more important than individual success. To us at least.”

Michael respond to William by saying: “William Holmes 1 day a week is more than reasonable. But from a child’s perspective who breaks their rear year round only to show up to a room where kids don’t take it seriously can be frustrating for the wrestlers not to mention the chance of injury is much higher. The local program growing is important, but I don’t see club attendance falling if anything I see it growing…my sons clubs have upwards of 30-40 kids a night in the off season.”

William followed up with: “Michael Charles that’s fine. But if you aren’t involved with your local program it’s a hard sell to say you’re also all about growing the sport.

Wrestling going club only will lead to the death of most high school program in NJ outside the traditional powerhouses.”

 Michael said to William: “William Holmes What I’m saying is the complaints I hear from club kids need to be addressed as well like I said it needs to be a give and take. A great indicator that the sport is growing is merchandising and that has exploded with near fall, Rudis, scraplife.”

William responded to Michael with: “Eh. 2021 has been a struggle from what I’ve seen with tournaments, clinics, duals, and even club numbers.

And schools are dropping or merging wrestling, schools I never thought possible. I can’t disagree with you more on the growth factor.”

William followed that up with: “Michael Charles  you can still do club and stay involved locally. Most I know d.o”

Michael responded to William with: “William Holmes These companies spend big money on analytics they see that there is a market otherwise they wouldn’t do it.”

William said to Michael: “Michaell Charles companies making money while programs and schools are dropping. This is the problem. You’re missing the forest from the trees.”

WIlliam followed that up with: “But anyway, winter 2021/22, let’s get kids back and new kids in.”

Michael responded to William with: “No I’m not LOL. If the market wasn’t there which means NUMBERS it wouldn’t be done.

My point in responding to your post is that this is a two way street. And their is a opposite side to this post which wasn’t being addressed.

It’s a two way street.”

William said to Michael: “If you cant sacrifice a day or two a week to be involved with your local program, which feeds kids into your high school program,

I honestly question you if you say you’re about growing the sport.

It really is quite easy for a club kid to continue to get better and stay involved locally. If your local program doesn’t find a way for your kid to do club and the local program at the same time, that’s on them.

Just don’t forget the importance of growing the sport from the ground up.

And yes, you are missing the forest from the trees. Just look at any high school dual results in your local newspaper and the number of forfeits to get a good idea of where our sport is at. Pre-pandemic too.”

Michael responded to William with: “William Holmes That’s not what was said. What I said was teams are to rigid requiring 3 days a week for practices…one of my previous responses stated that one day a week is more than reasonable.

Our rec team had 83 kids I think the year before the pandemic. This year they didn’t have a season because the schools wouldn’t let them use the gym.

And no there is not always a way for the child to improve in a rec room sadly the conditions just aren’t there sometimes.”

William responded to Michael saying: “The point of this post is to point out the importance of rec wrestling.

You missed the forest.

But keep watering your tree.”

Michael said to William: “William Holmes  The point of my post was to represent the complaint I here from a lot of parents which wasn’t included in your post and it’s very valid.”

William responded to Michael with: “Michael Charles it is. Guess I’m one of the few Rec programs that have dealt with it, and that hasn’t been a problem in south jersey at most clubs and participants from my experience.

I wish you luck next season!” 

Michael said to William: “William Holmes You as well man.”