In association with Head Coach Justin Wisdom of Feet to Back Wrestling, a summer grappling team based in Missouri that competes at some of the biggest events in the country and is comprised of several other squads, Centralia varsity wrestling coach Luke Gramke organized a clinic this week.
The Panther's have actually been hosting camps like this annually through F2B for several years now and not only have they been quite happy with the results, every time out there's a new guest instructor. The reason for the constant rotation in who they work with is so each year the youth wrestlers get to tap into a new source of knowledge as opposed to try and follow the style of one college coach who they may or may not end up competing for on the next level.
As for this years guest instructor at Centralia, it was Missouri Valley Associate Head coach Pat Giangrosso, who graduated from MVC in 2003 as a member of a National Championship team after earning All-American honors twice at 157 lbs. Currently he's entering his 14th year as an assistant coach with the Vikings and ninth as the top assistant.
"I'm just here in town for coach Wisdom and these guys. I grew up going to small wrestling camps like this, and big ones. I've been given so much by wrestling. I love giving back," said Giangrosso. "I'm coming in, teaching some wrestling and maybe some life tips here and there, it's awesome. Each day I'm showing these guys some different techniques, varying from on the feet to on the mat. I take a step-by-step process on some things or I might skip around."
As for the variables Giangrosso has to consider, those include talent level, experience and how quickly an individual picks up on instruction. On Wednesday that meant translating lessons specific and relating to high crotch moves and takedowns before moving into tilts on top, 2-on-1 tilts and claw ride tilts in an effort to try and score points.
"With my job, coaching college, I have to wrestle my guys daily, so I have to stay in shape. I'm almost 40, so I work out daily. I've always been into working out, so it's easy for me, but I work out so I can keep up with my guys," Giangrosso said. "I'm big on working out. When I wrestled in college I worked out daily, even in the offseason. You just have to keep doing it and it's just one thing I've always done."
While events like this definitely help keep Giangrosso in shape, they also can serve as scouting tools. Being right on the mat with an individual is a great way to measure exactly how much physical talent that person actually has, but evaluating whether someone is the right fit for a team takes much more than just assessing on-the-mat ability.
"We'll go out and watch competitions. We'll go to camps like this and work camps like. We'll go out and see kids. Maybe it's somebody I don't know of or have barely heard of or don't know a lot about," said Giangrosso. "At camps I can watch someone drill. I can watch them learn, see how fast they pick up on stuff. Try and tell what kind of kid they are. Go to wrestling tournaments. Watch kids wrestle. Not just small tournaments. Big, national level tournaments. See how they compete."