United States Olympic wrestler Ken Chertow came into town on Friday to host a wrestling clinic at Turlock High School's wrestling room and share his experiences as an elite athlete as well as teach the youth a few things on the mat.
Chertow was brought to Turlock by Dutcher Middle School wrestling head coach Tim McCabe, who is also an assistant with the Turlock Youth Wrestling Club.
“It's my first time in Turlock,” said Chertow, who was part of the 1988 USA Olympic team. “I do wrestling camps across the country, and I represent the Pac-12 Network and I am covering Stanford this weekend, so Tim knew I would be in the area and he reached out to bring me to Turlock and hired me to come out here to the community.”
Luckily for the young wrestlers of Turlock and the surrounding area, the opportunity to learn from an Olympic wrestler became a dream come true.
Chertow engaged the youth athletes, kids ages six through 17 and coming from the areas of Hilmar, Oakdale, Turlock and Denair, as he cracked jokes, laughed while explaining things in the simplest way.
He used metaphors and at one point imitated 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick's throwing motion as a way to warm up.
“I mean how often does an Olympian travel to Turlock? There are so many positives about bringing an opportunity like this to these kids,” McCabe said. “We are thankful that he took the opportunity to come.”
“Even before the Olympics I have enjoyed coaching since I have been doing it since I was 16,” said Chertow. “I coached my brother who was five years younger than me and I been involved in helping kids since I was a teenager and it has evolved over time.”
After the Olympics Chertow served as the Penn State wrestling coach followed by a stint at Ohio State until 15 years ago when Chertow left the college scene to coach youth full-time, aside from working as a color commentator for Pac-12 wrestling.
Chertow finds a different type of satisfaction teaching the younger kids as opposed to college athletes.
“I enjoy working with younger people because they are more motivated and more eager to learn,” he said. “College coaching is like putting the final touches on the guys, whereas with kids you can make a bigger impact at a younger age.”
Chertow also encouraged proper nutrition to the youngsters in Turlock.
“It helps kids learn discipline, but most importantly it helps teach the kids a healthy way of life,” Chertow said. “To take care of their bodies, eat healthy, exercise consistently and it teaches you to be a good, clean-cut healthy person and I am a big advocate for that.”
For more information on Ken Chertow's camps, visit www.kenchertow.com.