The Transfer Debate – Many Shades of Gray

By Brian Jerzak

Two years ago I had a few conversations with The Guillotine brass about doing this story. I am not ashamed to admit it, but I chickened out. Even as I am writing this I don’t know if I am going to let this get into print. When I was trying to come up with an angle, I realized that part of the reason I was interested in doing the story this time around was I didn’t know much about it. I wanted to know what I didn’t know. I would guess a number of high school sports fans are in the same boat. They hear rumors and think they know, but like me, probably don’t.

My intentions are not to single out any one program, coach, athlete, or as I found out – athletic director. My intentions are to show both perspectives and let the reader decide. I did go into the story with a personal bias, but by the time I got done interviewing a number of people not only in wrestling, but other sports, as well as the media, I got frustrated because I realized I could see both sides of the debate. I was hoping for an issue that was black and white, but in the world of high school transfers there is a whole lot of gray.

One quick disclaimer - while doing research I talked to five current wrestling coaches, two retired wrestling coaches, a boy’s basketball coach, a girl’s basketball coach and a member of the media who covers high school sports mainly in the metro area. Some of the coaches were fine with me using their names for this story and some asked to remain anonymous. Because of the sensitive nature of the story I decided to leave almost everyone anonymous. I also tried to contact the Minnesota State High School League multiple times and did not receive a response.

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28 days that will change your life

J Robinson Intensive Wrestling Camps

By Brian Jerzak

The temperature was over ninety degrees in late July. Wrestlers from around the country were engaged in one-on-one live wrestling. Not more than ten minutes passed and everyone on the mat was drenched in sweat, but they pressed on. At 15 minutes the whistle blew, the action stopped and each wrestler found his individually labeled water bottle for a two minute water break. After the two minute break the whistle blew again and the paired off wrestlers began again, this time for ten minutes. The intensity of the wrestling didn’t slow down as time went on. None of the wrestlers wanted to be responsible for making the group do 50 yard bear crawls or push-ups because he was not pulling his weight. Ten physically draining minutes pass and the whistle blows again. Two minutes of water and rest before the next whistle. Five minutes, break, five minutes, break, ten minutes, break, and finally one more grueling 15 minute live wrestling session.

After the final 15 minute session, the camp leader, who had been observing the action from the side, gathers up the sweat drenched wrestlers. He summarizes an earlier session the wrestlers had with a group of Navy SEALS giving them the collective group results of the swimming test the SEALS put them through. He then moves on to the final day’s workouts. He asked the wrestlers how many of them are worried about the 15 mile run that laid ahead of them the next and last day of the camp. About half of the wrestlers raised their hands. Then he asked how many of them think they can run seven and a half miles. Every one of the wrestlers’ hands went up. “All you have to do then,” the coach said, “is turn around and run back.”

I asked Ed Henry, a wrestler from Michigan who was preparing for his senior year of high school and was back for his third straight year at the camp, why he puts himself through this. I mentioned there must be a hundred wrestling camps he could choose, why choose this camp?

“Here you have no distractions. It is all about wrestling. Before my first year coming here, I was 18-32. After coming here one year I was 32-18. It (his big turn around) was all because of this camp. It gave me the confidence I needed to compete against the top guys. After wrestling with (among others) Cole Konrad and Rulan Gardner, I knew I could handle any wrestling situation I would get into.”

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