Andrew Hudson photo Coach Joshua Smith

Andrew Hudson photo Coach Joshua Smith

Masset Wrestling Club quickly finds its feet

North-end kids are taking hold of a new sport in Masset: freestyle wrestling.

North-end kids are taking hold of a new sport in Masset: freestyle wrestling.

Cheering each other through some of their first full match-ups, wrestlers in the fledgling Masset Wrestling Club held their final season-one practice in the Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay gym on March 2.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” says Geoff Thorburn, who volunteered to help head coach Joshua Smith this winter along with fellow assistant coach Tiffany Scholey.

“The kids are really quite good at wrestling they’re showing some really good skills.”

Thanks to everyone who donated to the Masset Haida Lions Club during this year’s Christmas Telethon, the wrestling club got started in December with a regulation-size wrestling mat that measures about 40 square feet.

“It’s working out well,” said Smith. “These mats are super light, so they’re easy to handle.”

Smith said the club is focused mainly on wrestlers in Grades 6 to 12 so it can build up a team for the high school season, which runs from late September to February. An Olympic as well as a high-school sport, freestyle wrestling involves arm and leg holds, but no hitting, chokes, or submissions.

At the high-school level, freestyle wrestlers only compete against opponents of the same weight and gender, so they don’t need to be big to do well.

The Masset RCMP offered to cover the cost of sending club members to this year’s Northwest Zones contest, but unfortunately the wild waters of the Hecate Strait proved impossible to pin down the trip was cancelled because the ferry couldn’t get to the mainland in time.

“That’s okay, it’s the way we live on Haida Gwaii,” said Thorburn, adding that the club will be well prepared for next year’s zones, and there may be a chance for some of the First Nations wrestlers to go on to the North American Indigenous Games.

In any case, next year’s wrestlers are sure to land on their feet the club is using its unspent travel budget to buy 30 pairs of wrestling shoes.

“They’ll all have different size feet next season,” said Smith.