The Moffat County Youth Wrestling team and coaches pose for a picture. The team had its first season ever this spring and had 78 members sign up. Its coaches are made up of former Moffat County High School wrestlers. The team is pictured with the coaches, top row from left, Steve Durbin, Jeremiah Noland, Mark Voloshin, co-founder Chad Lawton, Chad Marshall, Neil Call, Anton Fredrickson, co-founder Mark Zimmerman and Phil Vallem. Coaches not pictured are Clint Haskins, Kurtis Kostur, Greg Hixson, Kip Hafey and Travis Linscum.

Gayle Zimmerman

The Moffat County Youth Wrestling team and coaches pose for a picture. The team had its first season ever this spring and had 78 members sign up. Its coaches are made up of former Moffat County High School wrestlers. The team is pictured with the coaches, top row from left, Steve Durbin, Jeremiah Noland, Mark Voloshin, co-founder Chad Lawton, Chad Marshall, Neil Call, Anton Fredrickson, co-founder Mark Zimmerman and Phil Vallem. Coaches not pictured are Clint Haskins, Kurtis Kostur, Greg Hixson, Kip Hafey and Travis Linscum.

Youth wrestling program aims to help revive sport in Moffat County

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“When we got together and started talking, we figured if we ended up with 30 kids we’d be doing really good. When we had 78, that really told me that we needed another wrestling program in Moffat County.”

—Mark Zimmerman, coach and founder of the Moffat County Youth Wrestling team, about the surprising success the team had in its first year getting children interested in wrestling.

Wrestling is making a comeback in Moffat County.

MCHS had dominant wrestling individuals and programs in the past, but has fallen from its championship form in recent years.

Mark Zimmerman, 44, of Craig, partnered with Chad Lawton to form the Moffat County Youth Wrestling team during the spring with the vision of creating a new generation of strong wrestlers in the area.

Zimmerman, a member of Moffat County High School’s state champion wrestling team in 1985, felt it was important to get more youths involved and interested in wrestling, and he and Lawton believed they had a good idea for doing so.

Moffat County already had a youth wrestling team, the Bad Dogs, but Zimmerman said he thought for the average child, the Bad Dogs season was too grueling, lasting from October to May.

“Our season lasts eight weeks. Eight weeks later I think kids are tired of coming to practice and tired of being gone on weekends,” Zimmerman said. “I think after awhile they don’t want to wrestle anymore. And then they can get thinking about high school, ‘If it’s like this now, what’s it going to be like then?’

“That’s kind of detoured them away from sticking with wrestling.”

Moffat County Youth Wrestling is for children from kindergarten through sixth grade, and its aim is to teach strong wrestling fundamentals to newcomers while also helping more seasoned wrestlers to improve their skill.

When Zimmerman and Lawton had 78 children sign up for the first season, they were surprised but pleased with the positive response.

“When we got together and started talking, we figured if we ended up with 30 kids we’d be doing really good,” Zimmerman said. “When we had 78, that really told me that we needed another wrestling program in Moffat County.”

Also helping MCYW’s cause was a good response from volunteer coaches.

13 coaches, most of who were on MCHS state champion teams, decided to help.

Zimmerman said all the coaches were on the same page in wanting to teach wrestlers the basics.

“We wanted to teach kids the basics, the moves that they will use all through high school and all through college,” he said. “With 12 or 13 coaches at a practice, you get so much one-on-one time with the kids, which is great.”

MCYW finished its season at the end of April and Zimmerman felt it was a major success.

He is looking forward to having an even larger group in 2013.

“Every little boy, every little girl that wants to come do it is welcome,” he said. “Anybody five years and older and they don’t have to have any wrestling experience and don’t have to travel to wrestle at the tournaments if they don’t want.”

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