Arkansas became the 49th state to add high school wrestling when the Arkansas Activities Association approved wrestling as a sanctioned sport for the 2008-2009 season. Greg Hatcher and Don Schuler worked for the past two years developing wrestling in high schools first as a club sport while trying to get wrestling sanctioned. The victorious day came in June of 2008 when the AAA Board voted to sanction wrestling for the 2008-2009 season. 44 high schools will be a part of the initial High School wrestling season and each of the superintendents, athletic directors, and coaches of each of these schools are to be commended for being willing to step forward and give kids of their high schools opportunities.
In addition, the Arkansas Wrestling Association should be commended for agreeing to purchase mats for each of these 44 high schools as an incentive to get them to step forward.
In Arkansas, most schools only have a basketball program during the winter. Although basketball is a wonderful sport, it only helps typically 15 kids during that season stay active, be fit, and enjoy competition. Wrestling would be the perfect fit in that it is a winter sport and it allows every kid to participate regardless of size. Weight classes start at 103 and go through 285 pounds. For the young man who gets a late growth spurt or simply isn’t going to be big enough to play football or basketball this sport gives him a great chance to compete.
Wrestling teaches discipline, teaches kids how to eat right, and is one of the most demanding sports fitness wise. A six-minute wrestling match (3 rounds of 2 minutes each) will take about all the energy out of you that you have. The fact that it’s an individual sport is nice as well because there are no concerns about who will be the starter for the high school team. You typically “wrestle off” for the starting spot. Also, there’s nothing like being put in a one on one situation out there in the middle of the mat where you have to get it done all by yourself and there’s no one to help you.
One neat thing about wrestling is that it’s a very safe sport and one in which even if you lose you’re very unlikely to get hurt. The worst thing that happens to you is you get pinned by having your two shoulders be held on the mat for a couple of seconds. Wrestling is different than boxing in that you can compete without the fear of a major injury. The sport helps to develop discipline, fitness, and confidence in a way that is unique to almost any other sport. Wrestling will also keep kids busy and out of trouble and is a sport that every high school needs.