By Hugh McMillan
Curt Scott, my longtime buddy and a former wrestling coach himself, felt I needed to do a story on the efforts of his friends, Jim Andrews and Brian Russell, who make possible the Washington Grizzlies Wrestling Club.
The wrestling club was started over decade ago, by longtime coach Matt Matteson. The team is now coached by Jim Andrews, Jonny Walker and Brian Russell, along with several assistant coaches.
”As coaches, our goal is to teach the kids what it means to earn something, “ Andrews explained. “We want them to understand that hard work is the key to success. At the same time, if the kids are not enjoying themselves, then they won’t want to come back. We mix good fundamental wrestling with games and fun activities. On Thursdays after practice we end the practice week with a game of dodge ball. The kids really look forward to that reward and release after a tough week of training.”
”Hard work builds character. Character builds success,” is the WGWC Motto.
“Grizzlies are taught to win with humility and lose with grace,” said Russell, who is also the team’s president.
Last Thursday, I got to watch the team practice in the Peninsula High School mat room, and talk to several of the young wrestlers.
Homeschooled fourth-grader Murphy Massey-O’Hanlon, 9, likes wrestling “because it helps me meet more friends, it’s fun, the coaches are nice and it has helped me be more confident in martial arts.”
To Purdy Elementary fifth-grader Bryce Tillman, 10, “The Grizzlies are dedicated, strong, hardworking.” Classmate Tyler Sievers, 11, feels, “It’s unique from every other sport because it’s such good conditioning, and our team is special.”
Purdy first-grader, Braxton Andrews, 7, said, “I like learning moves, wrestling in tournaments, having fun, and playing dodgeball.”
“Wrestling for the Grizzlies provides an opportunity for long-lasting confidence, friendship, and memories,” enthused Key Peninsula Middle School seventh-grader Kendall Powers, 12.
Six-year-old homeschooled first grader, Ole Massey-O’Hanlon, said, “What I like about wrestling is its just fun.”
For Purdy second-graders Kayden Oswalt, 8, and Gabe Sievers, 7, respectively, “My favorite thing is going to tournaments and winning medals,” and, “I like the challenge of wrestling matches.”
“My favorite thing about wrestling is learning new moves,” declared Minter Creek Elementary first-grader Kenai Demmert, 6.
The season starts in mid-October and runs through the middle of February, ending at the Mat Classic State Tournament at the Tacoma Dome. The team wrestles in the Pierce County Junior Wrestling League (PCJWL) and USA Wrestling tournaments. The Grizzlies enjoy the support of several local businesses, including William Patrick’s Coffee, Harbor Graphics, Tote Maritime, and the Sievers Real Estate Team.
“I love wrestling because it’s nonstop work. The Grizzlies team is great because they push me to work harder and learn new things,” asserted Conner Hawkins, 8, a third-grader at Burley Glenwood Elementary.
The Grizzlies Wrestling is really fun,” said Shelby Powers, 7, a Vaughn Elementary first-grader. Schoolmate and third-grader Brock Powers, 9, feels, “The Grizzlies coaches are amazing.”
Joked Paige Powers, 10, a Vaughn fifth-grade girl, “I’m just here to make boys cry.”
Summing it up, Harbor Ridge Middle School sixth-grader Chase Russell, 11, says “I like the wrestling community; everybody feels like family.”
For more information, contact Brian Russell, firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-653-3058, or coach Jim Andrews at 253-278-0441.