Wrestling is special in the town of Turlock.
At the high school level, combined, Turlock and Pitman have seen multiple league titles, Section titles, Master’s champions, State winners, a plethora of state medalists and an even larger list of State qualifiers.
However, there is a platform, a beginning, for all these successful wrestlers who have gone on to achieve their goals.
For the Pitman Pride, the Pride Wrestling Academy is the feeder program that is hoping to start kids at a young age with all the necessary tools, techniques and values they need to be able to transition into the high school level with ease.
“We share the same wrestling philosophy and background of the high school we want them to go to,” said Pride Wrestling Academy President Nic Jensen.
That is what Jensen is hoping for, along with head coach Matt Vasconcellos, the older brother of Pitman varsity head coach, Adam Vasconcellos.
“We have been around for three years but just since this year have we been a nonprofit 501 (c) 3,” said Jensen. “The town of Turlock has not only strong roots in wrestling, but a drive and commitment to continue the progression of athletes starting at a young age, pushing for the opportunity to learn the true meaning of teamwork, camaraderie, hard work and dedication.”
Jensen says that while these traits can be learned in other aspects of life, no other sport like wrestling can assist a young athlete to overcome adversity, and perhaps challenge one to become better overall.
“We have grown in three years since we started. Went from seven kids our first year to 15 kids in our second year and third year we have over 50 kids wrestling for our youth program now,” said Jensen. “This year we went from no board to now we have a legit board with members and non-profit organization as well, recognized by the State of California.”
However, it didn’t just happen overnight. The process took about eight months according to Jensen.
Now, the goal is to continue the growth with all the tools at their disposal. The assistance of the current, past and future parents as well was something that Jensen mentioned as a significant factor in the progress of the program.
“I tell my kids who wrestle for us that they need to recognize the parents for allowing you to do this, parents are investing time and money into this,” said Jensen. “Taking you to practice, and we wrestle Sundays, and we are there all day, the kids want to invest their time on Sunday, instead of getting time off, without parents this isn’t possible.
“Our goal isn’t to coach to be the best wrestler, but be a good wrestler, have good sportsmanship, follow directions and listen,” he added.
Beginners practice is from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Pitman wrestling room. Advanced practices run from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every day. For more information, visit facebook.com/Pridewrestlingacademy/