As the Christmas and holiday season approaches most of us look forward to indulge in the lavish meals and goodies. However, for many high school wrestlers it’s two weeks of rationing those seasonal treats and constantly checking the bathroom scale. Warning, this column will only be appreciated by those who have wrestled or have kids who are wrestlers. 

Scholastic wrestling is a brutal sport that tests the mental and physical limits of teenage participants. Throw in the need to diet over the holidays and it’s no wonder high school team rosters are shrinking. 

Basketball, swimming and volleyball players need not worry about indulging in what Mom, Dad or Grandma serves up on Christmas or Hanukkah. Only wrestlers have to stand on the scale, dinner plate in hand to see how much the ham and sweet potatoes puts them over weight. 

There has been discussion at the State level to wait until after Thanksgiving to begin high school wrestling workouts. That’s a step in the right direction and it allows wrestlers to enjoy the traditional family holiday without fear of their weight ballooning just before the start of the season. But, if it were up to me I would also put a moratorium on competition between Christmas and New Year’s Day, allowing kids to celebrate a special time of year with their family.

Unfortunately, the holiday wrestling tournament has been a fixture on most wrestling schedules. Boosters and charitable organizations have been using the two-day tournaments as fundraisers for over fifty years and that’s not about to change. Coaches could pass on the tournaments and give their kids a break, but the danger of losing a competitive edge is the excuse not to.

Tracking high school dual match results in Section Six shows an alarming decrease in roster sizes. Varsity teams that have competitors in every weight class are a minority and JV lineups are even leaner.

Former Niagara Wheatfield wrestling coach Armand Cacciatore, who has been inducted into seven different Halls of Fame, believed back in the 1960’s that the season should run from January to March. Take the drudgery of dieting over the holidays out of the equation and allow kids to fully be a part of their family traditions. 

Holiday tournaments are no picnic for coaches either. Tying up two full days away from the family over the holidays can be a commitment that never gets easy, especially if the tourney is out of town.

So here is wishing wrestlers and coaches a happy holiday season, even if it means passing on Mom’s lasagna and Grandma’s home made cookies. I’ll have a second helping in your honor, nuff said!

Filed under: High School Wrestling, Local Headlines

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