Winner of the 149-pound weight class in the Appalachian Athletic Conference for Reinhardt University, Madison’s Jody McAlister spent the final week of July running a youth wrestling camp at the 4-H gym in Eatonton. He made it a time for fun and learning with as many as 20 converging from Putnam, Morgan and other counties July 26-28.
“We’ve been going over a lot of technique and putting a pace on them, moving,” said McAlister, who was joined by a former high school teammate, Antonio Robinson, as instructors for the 5 th through 12 th graders. “We’re trying to get them exposed to a couple of new takedowns, different skill sets.
“The first day was a neutral position doing six different takedowns. We would practice those positions and then wrestle live. I tried to make the first day the hardest day. I didn’t want to chase them off. ‘Hey, tomorrow’s going to be easier, so have faith in that.’
“The second day we did top and bottom and just showed a lot of basic skills and fundamentals. Antonio and I wrestled in college, so we want to make sure they aren’t only getting the technique, but they are understanding why they are doing certain technique and their movements are precise.
“And giving them plenty of breaks, too. It’s a little bit hot in here, but we got the fans and been giving them plenty of water.”
The final day started with a little team competition, two sides sneaking up to each other looking to eliminate as many as possible until only one remains on each side. The coaches then reviewed all the lessons from the previous two days, the goal being that each wrestler feels better about how they do a move and will be able to practice them better in their future training.
“I love the sport of wrestling,” said McAlister, who’s conference win at 149 pounds qualified him for the 2021 NAIA nationals in Kansas City. “That’s why we’re here. It’s all about growing the sport.
“The beauty of it is it’s all going up and down. Whenever you are wrestling, you can either be the best and get beat or you can be the lowest and win. You can really do something greater than you think you can.”