The July 15-18 Minnesota Gophers wrestling camp attracted more than 110 student wrestlers from all over Minnesota and at least one student from as far away as Montana to Pine River.
This is the second year the Gophers camp has been hosted in Pine River. For the last two days of the event students were taught improved wrestling techniques by award-winning wrestlers from the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers wrestling team. They were lea by Administrative Assistant Kevin LeValley, two-time All American and a United States Wrestling representative in international championships.
“Any time I come and do a camp, obviously my number one goal is to help the kids get better. Obviously these kids are here for a reason. Every kid that walked in that door this morning wants to get better and wants to improve, so my goal coming in and going out is to make sure that every kid leaves here today and tomorrow feeling they got a little better,” LeValley said. “I don’t expect them to make huge strides in two days, but if every kid can pick up one, maybe two things that are going to help them down the road, then we’ve had a successful camp.”
LeValley said the camp is not exclusively dedicated toward teaching wrestling, either.
“We like to add a little bit of life lesson type stuff. Some of these kids are as young as 5 years old here, so if we can get them to go home and even thank their parents or family friend who drove them to camp, then that’s a positive,” LeValley said.
He said the camp is dedicated to teaching kids, especially older kids, that you get out of life whatever you put in.
The camp appears to be well received by students and parents alike.
“He seems to be learning quite a bit and having a lot of fun,” said Stacy Jasicki, mother of TJ (Thomas) Jasicki, 9 of Henning. “Wrestling is his life sport. It’s his passion and it’s what he likes to do.”
“My dad thought it would be all right if I go, so I came up here to learn,” said Jasiah Paskwitz, 13, of Staples-Motley. “It’s been good. I’ve actually enjoyed it.”
“It’s awesome,” said Evan Koering, 11, Pine River.
This year’s camp focused on “high crotch” techniques, leg attack defense and “bottom wrestling.”
“I like the idea of defense where you grab the other guy’s leg when he’s sprawled on you on a high crotch and you can turn him right there without any problems,” said Paskwitz.
The wrestling camp in Pine River is a satellite of the Jay Robinson Intensive Wrestling Camp program that includes five-day technique camps throughout the country, as well as 10- to 28-day intensive camps in Iowa, Oregon, Minnesota and other states.
The camp was instructed by Brad Dolezal of Wisconsin, Pat Smith of Minnesota, Kevin LeValley of Colorado, Brett Pfarr of Minnesota, Alec Ortiz of Oregon, and Scott Schiller of North Dakota.
The event was made possible by contributions by local businesses, groups and individuals.