- The one-on-one nature of wrestling sets wrestlers apart from athletes in team sports, such as basketball and football. "There's no one else out on that mat but you--and that makes it all that much more fun when you win, 'cause if you lose, you got nobody to blame but yourself," said Three Lakes Jr. High Coach Joe Fitzpatrick.
Even though wrestling is a uniquely solitary sport, it still offers plenty of opportunities for teamwork, togetherness and even family involvement. Just ask Kim Terlizzi. Kim's three kids all wrestle in the Three Lakes program.
"They are all individuals that can do whatever they want. It's all up to them," Kim said of her kids. "You just go from mat to mat and watch their accomplishments as they go through it. It's really nice."
Her daughter--Olivia, now in high school--started wrestling in 2005, and Olivia's two younger brothers followed in their older sister's footsteps.
"My sister started it and then I wanted to try it because my brother did," said eight-year old Vinnie Terlizzi.
Olivia has gone to state each year since she arrived in high school. Kim credits the training Olivia received as a youngster for her success.
"Starting young, she gained a lot of skills in order to make her state-worthy," said Kim. "And my sons are on that same path."
Other families also have several kids involved in the wrestling program. Fitzpatrick thinks getting multiple kids involved in wrestling at the same time can help all of them grow and achieve more quickly than they would alone.
"You'll see groups of brothers from the same families that wrestle. It's definitely a family affair," said Fitzpatrick. "Generally family members are the same size, so they have automatic training partners."
Braden Pulver practices on mats at home with his brothers.
"My dad used to wrestle and he inspired me," said Braden. "He coaches me, which really helps."
Braden's hard work has paid off. He came in second at the state tournament last year.
"I was in overtime and I shot and I took him down. That was so cool," said Braden.
Beyond the winning and the camaraderie, wrestling offers other benefits as well.
"Sometimes I get angry and it gets the anger out of me," said nine-year old L.J. Terlizzi.
Throws, headlocks, and arm bars are normal behaviors in in the Terlizzi house. But Kim doesn't mind. She's a wrestling mom. "Some families call it fighting, but it's wrestling practice," said Kim Terlizzi.
Still, the Terlizzis and the Pulvers put in all that practice for a reason: There are few pleasures as satisfying as winning a wrestling match. "Winning is contagious," Fitzpatrick said. "And they really love it when they win."
|Story By: Jeanine Ilacqua