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(Editor’s Note: Ali Bryan, the team leader of the Alavanca wrestling program, writes about this club in Canada and introduces two wrestlers from that club who have enjoyed the benefits of Rocky Mountain National events in the U.S.)
In Portuguese, Alavanca means “leverage.” The Alavanca Wrestling Program makes its home in Calgary, Alberta, in Canada. Under the direction of Cory Coles, the club employs a training regimen and program that is unique, even perhaps a little unorthodox. The student-to-coach ratio is very low, the quality of instruction high. The older athletes regularly train, mentoring the younger ones while developing leadership skills, as well as improving their own technique in the process.
One way the club is committed to its elite athletes is by supporting frequent competition outside of the province and country. Rocky Mountain National tournaments have been a critical part of the club’s strategy in developing its wrestlers. Opportunities to compete in different styles, such as folkstyle, have prepared our athletes for success in freestyle.
The club has a strong focus on technique — and an even stronger focus on the big picture. It is not rare that a match might be used strictly to focus on executing a new move, even if it means a loss. The intent is to master the move so that it can be applied for future use, adding depth to an athlete’s repertoire and increasing probability of future success.
The strategies seem to be working. Since its inception, many of the club’s athletes have gone on to win large tournaments in Canada and the U.S. Club wrestler Adam Thompson recently won gold medals in both 80kg freestyle and Greco-Roman categories at the Canadian National Championships. In its first year, Alavanca produced many provincial and national champions; the number of athletes in the wrestling program has tripled since January.
Catalyst for Change by Daniel Coles
RMN Events have been a huge part of my development. My first year competing at RMN, I got my butt kicked … literally. I went 0-2 in my first tournament. Fortunately, I stuck with it, because in my senior year in high school, I was able to win every RMN event that I entered, including the big one: Rocky Mountain National Championships. One of the highlights of my wrestling career was when Ed Gutierrez presented me with the Triple Crown as the first Canadian to ever win that incredible award.
The coach who has impacted my technique more than any other is World Champion and Olympic silver medalist Gia Sissaouri … he taught me to be passionate about making wrestling beautiful. Through coach Gia, I came to understand that wrestling isn’t just banging heads and being tougher than your opponent. Rather, the wrestling mat has become my canvas where I can artistically and creatively express my craft.
I emulate this creed: “Artisans practice a craft and may through experience and aptitude reach the expressive levels of an artist.”
Wrestling has changed my life in many powerful ways because wrestling is hard! Let’s ask an honest question: can anyone say that baseball, or basketball, or soccer is harder than wrestling? Wrestlers need to be prepared to put their body through the pain and exhaustion as a competitor, while resisting everything your opponent does at the same time, as he tries to throw you down and hold you on your back.
There has never been a Canadian-raised man who won the NCAA championship (Stanford’s Matt Gentry had dual citizenship but was raised in the U.S.), so I will work hard at this goal. I really believe that if I continue to train hard, I can become a World and Olympic champion. My parents have taught me that if I am organized with my time, that I shouldn’t have to wait until I am finished with my personal career before I begin to coach and give back to younger athletes.
Here I Come, USA! by Pippa Bryan
At the Alberta Winter Games, I lost a match using an offensive strategy. After the defeat, I ended up having to face that same opponent in the gold-medal match. Noting that her shots were weak, I adjusted my strategy and fought defensively. Allowing her to make the first move and scoring off her attempts, I earned the championship.
Three of my coaches stand out:
Cory Coles. He was the first to watch me wrestle. I had less than a week of experience and he convinced me that I had the talent and capability to pursue wrestling on an elite level;
Danny Coles. Though he’s only 18, the fact that he is also an athlete makes him an incredible coach. He leads by example. He is always training and repeating technique. He evaluates every one of my matches and is quick to make adjustments;
Ivan Delchev of Delchev Trained Academy (DTA). He has the same expectations for me as he does for the guys.
There’s nothing like RMN Events in Canada. There is an element of fun and camaraderie that’s missing from other events. The light shows, merchandise and big prizes are highlights. Events also run super smooth and efficiently, which is amazing given how many mats are going at once. I’d love to get more Canadians down to the U.S. for RMN tournaments, as those events have been some of the best experiences I’ve had. I love wrestling folkstyle, which is something we don’t do in Canada. It’s made me a better wrestler because of the focus on takedowns.
Wrestling has taken over my life. I now travel almost monthly for training or competition. Wrestling has taught me a lot about self-discipline and time management. Because it is both an individual and team sport, it has also helped hone my leadership skills. Wrestling has taught me perseverance, work ethic and the ability to compete in less than ideal circumstances. I would love to have a career in coaching. n