Grappling, family style at wrestling camp

BY J.T. BUGOS | JULY 13, 2009 7:15 AM

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Families were divided this past weekend at the Brands-Gable Father-Son Camp. Fathers grappled with their own flesh and blood, and in one case, brother wrestled brother.

Even though father and son went head-to-head at some points during the weekend, the camp’s focus was on bringing the two together.

Canceled last year because of the flood, the camp picked up where it left off two years ago.

Approximately 25 pairs of fathers and sons showed up in Iowa City to learn more about the sport and spend the weekend together. Kids as young as 5 became pupils.

Kyle Kreinbring and son Kade made the hour-plus trip from Orion, Ill., to participate. Kreinbring grew up in a wrestling family, and little by little, he’s trying to expose young Kade to the wrestling world.

Kade has been wrestling for just a couple years now but only participates in a handful of tournaments per year. The opportunity to attend a camp hosted by the national champion Iowa wrestling team was an opportunity not to be missed.

“We have a mutual interest in wrestling,” Kreinbring said. “And with the father-son setup, it was a chance to spend some quality time together.”

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Kade wasn’t too worried about the success of the program. He was just excited to get on the mat and wrestle, learning better positioning and takedowns.

The enthusiasm and joy from the kids, and adults, is what Iowa head coach Tom Brands enjoys most about running the camp. The parents are the true wrestling fans and show the most gratitude, but it’s the kids that get the most satisfaction.

“The people that come are very appreciative of it, and we get a lot of good comments about it,” Brands said. “It’s something that’s pretty valuable when you’re getting fathers and sons together.”

The camp aims to work the kids of all ages hard. Brands leads the camp, and spends a lot of time demonstrating position in great detail. When the campers break off into individual groups, the fathers have the opportunity to coach, and it’s up to them to make sure the youngsters execute.

The father-son camp is more relaxed than other Iowa wrestling camps, which focus more on training and technique. But that doesn’t mean it’s not as high energy.

“The thing is intensity isn’t necessarily lost because you slow your teaching pace down,” Brands said. “One thing about wrestling you can appreciate is that intensity has to be high, whether it’s Olympic champions or peewee wrestlers.”

No matter the level of competition, there’s always a physical element in wrestling. Being fierce competitors and tough on the mat are stressed to the campers.

Off the mat, the camp teaches attitude and building meaningful relationships. Brands also tries to incorporate lessons for the fathers, such as not being overbearing and being a positive influence on the children’s wrestling careers.

Iowa’s head coach works hard to give the kids a good experience that can be used as a building block in life and sports.

“When you’re working with young people, you want them to feel good when they leave,” Brands said. “You want to feel good about the experience and the future.”

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