THE TRIANGLE I was meeting my friend Chris at the Germantown Starbucks on a late August evening in the summer of 2012. We were both running late for a 7:00 PM meeting as typical with DC traffic. Chris and I had coached youth football together and he knew my commitment to working with kids, and my vision to create a wrestling program that is competitive, all inclusive, rewards hard work as much as achievement, and instills values of good sportsmanship with honor. Chris, a former University of Dayton wrestler, had wrestled Youth League with his brothers in the area during his childhood. As we sat down Chris unfolded a Starbucks napkin and drew a Triangle. He pointed to the bottom of that Triangle and explained in order to get to the top of that Triangle you must always have a solid foundation at the bottom of that Triangle. I understood that to mean the foundation starts with your beginner wrestler. By creating a safe, fun, competitive environment you will fill the Triangle, and continue to push kids towards the top of that Triangle. Their success in climbing that Triangle will lead to the program success. This was the foundation we started the program with. IF YOU BUILD IT One of the biggest obstacles we faced in our early years being able to run a focused, disciplined room. Some of the wrestlers we worked with in the early years were considered “at-risk” and mid-way through year 2 the Triangle felt more like a Circle. Once the season concluded the Triangle resembled a Hexagon. I was at a crossroads with big decisions to make on whether I even wanted to continue with the program. Then, like a divine intervention, a random email and subsequent Greene Turtle meeting early in the summer of 2013 led to our Program Head Coach. Here was someone who worked with kids all day long, who had started his career working with at risk youth and had worked his way up to run his own school. He had been through the Junior Wrestling circuit with his own son and understood the mental and physical requirements competitive wrestling can have on a developing beginner, and elite athlete. He also understood the benefits wrestling can have in life on and off the mat. Upon our first meeting he offered to volunteer his free time to take full responsibility for the room order and structure, and the how the wrestlers competed. Wait! What? Sign Here! Right!?! That random opportunity changed the entire direction of our program, and possibly existence of Germantown Wrestling. From there they came- educators, business leaders, military leaders, first responders, former State Champions and former college wrestlers to work and mentor our kids. Our Forklift Operator was already in house to bring it all together. STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS Recently I ran into one of our former wrestlers from our first couple of years. He is 22 now with a Son (3) and Daughter (1). As he beamed with pride showing me pictures of his kids on his cellphone, he explained life had thrown him some curveballs through his teenage years. He was proud to tell me how he had gotten on track through his faith and shared with me something that during some difficult times would make him laugh to himself. When he was 13 he would think to himself “it was just Coach Dave being Coach Dave”, and “kind of corny”, when I would say “Why I love wrestling is you can be down 14 to 0 with 10 seconds left, and if you do the work, you still have a chance to win.” He said, “he knew what it meant” but not until times were hard did he really understand what it meant. What that told me was that we may not have been winning very much on the wrestling mat, but we were winning “State Championships” off the mat. Those who know me, of course I recruited his son and daughter for the 2021 and 2023 seasons respectively as we said goodbye. CAN I TRY IT? In the late 1980’s I lost a family member to random, senseless act of violence. Those events have had a lifetime impact on me that has made me want to make a difference. I really understood how I could make a difference beyond my immediate family when one of my wrestler’s little sisters, watching practice, asked, “can I try it”? She did try it, and she did great, earning high honors and respect amongst her all-male teammates that year. That was just a couple of years ago and our female program has doubled each year since. Our ladies train side by side with their male teammates. They do the same push-ups, pull ups, get bloody noses and earn the respect of their teammates by putting in the same hard work and effort as their male teammates. The self-defense training the young women, and young men, receive can last them a lifetime. Germantown Wrestling is going to be a vocal leader, and most importantly a leader by example in the participation of young ladies in the sport of wrestling, in the state of Maryland, now, and going forward. During the 2020-2021 Season we will form our First All Girls Duals Team to compete locally and regionally. WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT Last year our program had our first Maryland State Champion. Another one of our newer wrestlers, similar age, had his first intramural win in his third year. Both wrestlers had the big smiles on their face when their hands got raised. Both parents had tears in their eyes when their wrestler’s hands got raised as the winner. Both wrestlers got to pick where dinner was that night for the whole family. Both wrestlers showed up this year with smiles on their faces, early to the first practice, and excited to get started winning another state championship, or getting a second win. Please help support Germantown Wrestling as we look to expand our program and, increase our “Triangle” with our first All Girls Team, larger beginner program and enhanced training for advanced wrestlers. We need your financial assistance for additional and replacement uniforms, additional practice time and paid training. We always need your support for scholarships, uniforms and equipment, mat room rental and season costs. Anything you can give is appreciated and we really appreciate the support of our community.
Dave Blankenship Founder/Director Germantown Wrestling www.germantownwrestling.org