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Camp teaches kids on and off the mat

The Shafter Mennonite Brethren Church held its annual Summer Wrestling Camp this week, with about 30 kids wanting to learn the basics of the sport. Headed up by Pastor Pat Coyle, the camp is designed for beginners, as well as those who have a little wrestling experience.

It teaches the kids basic techniques, such as the proper stances, takedown moves, and escapes. It also touches on different workouts they can do to improve their flexibility, endurance, and fitness.

Coyle, who is a former competitive wrestler, has years of experience in teaching the sport, as well as being a competitive wrestler in high school and college. He is helped by former wrestlers of the camp, as well as current wrestles for the Shafter High Generals and the Shafter Spartans.

Coyle carries that passion for wrestling into his desire to teach and help the youth of Shafter and the surrounding area as they learn the sport of wrestling.

A unique trait for this camp is that it not only teaches the kids on the mat, but they also teach them off the mat. This year's theme is "First Move." "First Move refers to people being directed to "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness."

Coyle and his staff volunteers help the wrestlers with their techniques on the mat, while letting them learn in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere, building their confidence and strengthening their knowledge of the sport while giving them a positive perspective.

"This camp helps them prepare for their respective competitive teams as they look to move forward in their wrestling experience."

The camp runs from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. each day, with a special exhibition on Friday in which the parents and friends of the campers can see what the kids have learned and enjoy a dessert at the event. The wrestlers conclude the camp with different matches put on, as well as a demonstration of their newfound skills.

It is a perfect environment for inexperienced wrestlers who are looking to improve their technique in a supportive situation, Coyle says.

"This camp is really awesome," said Rigellio Hernandez, who was watching his son learn the moves for the first time. "He loves wrestling and really wants to get better. This is great!"


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