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Phillips wrestlers welcome a new mat to the team thanks to J.J. WattSubmitted: 02/23/2017

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PHILLIPS - Most Wisconsinites recognize J.J. Watt for his incredible skills on the football field. But for the Phillips middle school wrestling team, they now recognize him as a giver.

"We were wrestling on a 17-year-old mat that hardened over the years and it wasn't really safe anymore," said head coach Jack Hoogland.

But thanks to Wisconsin alum, J.J. Watt and his foundation, they received a brand new wrestling mat this season.

"It's a lot more soft and it doesn't hurt as much to get taken down or thrown or anything," said 8th grade wrestler, EJ Bogdan.

The nearly $10,000 gift came as a surprise to most of the community.

"Parents and students and everybody's just kind of amazed because this isn't usually something we hear about here, of something like this foundation giving this kind of money to one of our athletic programs," said Hoogland.

The middle school students are mainly who use the new mat. That's the age group that Watt's foundation focuses on.

"High school gets a lot and middle school is left out so they cater towards middle school," said Hoogland.

Watt played at Wisconsin a little over 7 years ago now. That means most of the kids using the mat don't remember even watching him play at Camp Randall.

"Even though he's in Houston now and they don't remember when he played for the Badgers, everybody knows him because he's such a recognizable person, both for his athletic abilities and his giving back to communities," said Hoogland.




Story By: Katie Leszcynski

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