BROOMFIELD — Want to know if you have successfully commanded a room?
Just look at the faces and if they are watching intently and focusing on every word, then you have done your job.
It’s just what the kids at the Northwestern Wrestling Camp at Legacy High School were doing all this week for Wildcats coach Drew Pariano and his staff.
“I think they enjoy it and I know they love coming to Colorado and they see the potential in some of the wrestlers in this state and want to expand their recruiting footprint,” said Mike Funk, who is a Legacy assistant coach and heads the Bolts Youth Club. “But they also like coaching wrestling. They do a great job and they love teaching the kids to wrestle the right way.”
Funk, a four-time All American at Northwestern, spearheaded not just this camp over the last several seasons but was instrumental in bringing the Wildcats to Broomfield this last fall to wrestle duals with both the University of Northern Colorado and the Air Force Academy.
Pariano’s staff, which includes Jay Borschel (a national champion at Iowa) and Matt Storniolo (a two-time All American at Oklahoma), do not just stand on the side of the mat and shout instructions. They are out on the mats, rolling around and teaching techniques to the eager audience that seems to hang on every methodical move.
“We try to make it as fun as we can and at the same time still do a lot of technique that we feel is cutting edge and we bring some of that from the Big 10,” said Pariano, who coached Jason Tsirtsis to a national title earlier this year. “They have been gracious hosts to us two out of the last three years and I feel like we have kind of found a home here I guess.”
A number of the Lightning varsity wrestlers were on hand including state champion Ryan Deakin, who missed the last day to head to Idaho and wrestle with his club. Mike Funk’s son Nolan and Matt Hebel were among those in attendance and will take a lot out of the experience.
“It’s a bunch of different techniques that a lot of coaches normally wouldn’t show,” Nolan Funk said. “We have different coaches here and they each have their own style. They can show us things and helps us learn a lot more stuff than we normally would in practice.”
Said Hebel of what he has taken in: “It’s a bunch of small things on the stuff you already know to make it better than you already know it. Wrestling is a simple sport, it’s just all the details that can make it hard.”
Kids from all over the region, representing a number of high schools, and of all different age groups arrived each morning for a 2-hour, 15-minute morning session and then came back later in the day for an afternoon session of the same length.
Not only have the coaches been imparting their wisdom on the mat, but they have also been stressing the importance of being a good student and pursuing their education.
“It’s a pretty rigorous academic school and they understand the whole balance of competing, but also there are things to life beyond wrestling,” Mike Funk said. “They prepare you for life after school and they get that balance. I can be a great student and a great wrestler or athlete, I’ve got to put in the work and I have to do it the right way and they understand it because they live it on a daily basis.”
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