It’s a Wednesday during winter sports season, but Marion wrestlers aren’t starting practice with stretching or warm-up drills, they start with a game of football.
“It’s a fun way to warm up, rather than your typical running around, stretching, and stuff like that,” coach Tyler McMichael said. “With such a small group we can make that work. If we had 30 kids we wouldn’t be able to make that work.”
When they play ultimate football, practice starts with wrestlers and coaches scurrying around the wrestling mats on all fours, trying to advance the ball from one end to the other without moving more than three steps, similar to ultimate Frisbee.
“It gets everyone moving around on the mats,” McMichael said. “It works pretty well and gets all of your body warmed up.”
Having a team of seven members shifts the focus toward individual success
rather than team performance, McMichael said.
“If we do great as a team, that’s awesome,” he said. “A lot of it’s going to be your individual success because we don’t have enough people to make a lot of points. If we go against a team that has 14 guys, they’re probably going to be able to score more points.”
The team brings a blend of experience, led by upperclassman Todd Palic, but it will have to contend with the limited skills of having three freshmen.
When it comes to coaching, one of the advantages is that both Marion’s coaches are young enough to participate alongside the team, McMichael said.
“We can go out, like playing the game with them, and actually getting in there and wrestling with them,” he said. “I think it puts us in the wrestlers’ shoes a little more than someone who just stands on the sidelines or is old school all the time.”