UCF to host intensive wrestling camp
Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012
Updated: Saturday, June 23, 2012 20:06
More than 100 middle and high school students from all across Florida will occupy the Education Complex gymnasium starting Saturday for five days of intensive wrestling training with elite athletes.
The UCF wrestling program is teaming up with Cage Fighter, a mixed martial arts apparel and combat gear company, to bring well-known athletes and coaches from across the country to the UCF campus. This is the first camp of its kind to find its way on to the campus according to UCF wrestling head coach Jason Balma.
“We’re talking world-class athletes coming to UCF, a little bit of notoriety for the university,” Balma said. “It’ll have an impact for recruiting for our team as well as promoting the university for sure.”
The camp is bringing in coaches with winning backgrounds including Walt Ragan, with 36 years of experience coaching high school wrestling, which is expected to be inducted into the Florida Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame this August. Also among the coaches is Mike Schyck who has coached for Ohio State University and Georgia State University.
The 2011 FILA World Champion Jordan Burroughs will be making a stop by the camp as he prepares for his Olympic debut this summer in London. Among the featured clinicians is two-time Olympian Daniel Cormier, who was the captain of the 2008 U.S. Olympic wrestling team. His 2008 teammate Olympian Ben Askren will also be joining the camp.
“When they told us there was going to be a camp I was excited but then I was even more excited when they told me the people who were coming,” said Santiago Martinez, UCF wrestling team captain. “If I wanted to choose the wrestlers to come to the camp those would definitely be it no doubt about it. It’s pretty exciting.”
Martinez, a junior and double major in marketing and management, has been wrestling for a little less than five years. He started wrestling his sophomore year in high school and at around the same age as many of the camp participants will be.
“In the camp I would be showing them technique or helping some kids out with moves that they need help on,” Martinez said. “They have so many little details that they need work on.”
Enrollment for the camp fell short of expectations. However, that does not deter the UCF wrestling program, which anticipates growing the camp to eventually have two each summer. These camps will prove to be vital recruiting resources for the program.
“Potentially we could’ve had 250-300 wrestlers. What it’s looking like now is a little over a 100. For year one it’s actually not bad. It’s definitely something we want to see grow in the future,” Balma said. “I think we’ll keep bringing back Cage Fighter. They’re a great organization to work with. They really focus on promoting wrestling, so I really like their mission.”
The future of the partnership between the UCF wrestling program and Cage Fighter has only just begun, according to Sonny Shroyer, national sales director for Cage Fighter. Although the brand sponsors many professional mixed martial arts fighters they are also looking to outfit college wrestling programs across the country.
“With Central Florida moving over into the Big East conference, it’s a traditional wrestling conference,” Shroyer said. “Florida as a state doesn’t have a division one college wrestling program right now. We’re for the progress of the amateur sport of wrestling and beyond. As you notice many of the stars of MMA right now have a strong wrestling background. It just made perfect sense.”