COACH APPRENTICE BLOG Last day features a U S champion in Dom Bradley

By National Coaches | Aug. 10, 2009, 3:30 p.m. (ET)
August 9, 2009
by the Apprentice Coaching Staff

We were all anxious for the last day of competition. Our wrestlers represented USA Wrestling well; with Dominique Bradley advancing to the Gold Medal Match at 120 kg. The crowd was its largest and the energy was at its highest.

During the second session Chris Perry and Tony Ramos advanced in the repechage with dominating performances. Although Tony and Chris battled hard, they fell short of reaching the podium. Dom continued his manhandling of his opponent in the finals and easily captured his first World Gold Medal! As our flag was being raised and the National Anthem was being played, we felt proud to be a part of it.

The evening ended with a dinner and music as the teams gathered one last time before our departure. This has been a worthwhile experience. We would like to thank Sam Barber and USA Wrestling for creating this opportunity. We hope that in the future these experiences will be offered to coaches to continue our grassroots development. The process of packing has begun and we will be leaving the hotel at 4:00 a.m. We will be arriving back in the States around 5:00 - 6:00 p.m.

August 8, 2009
by the Apprentice Coaching Staff

The first day of freestyle started out really strong. The team got a solid warm up, technique was crisp, and moral was good. In the first round we had 3 out of 4 wrestlers advance. We were very offensive in all of our matches, which was exciting to watch. Jordan Oliver and Andrew Howe advanced to the bronze medal matches.

During the break, Sam Barber arranged for a taxi to take us to old Ankara. He asked them to take us to the Parliament Bazaar and they assured us they understood what we were talking about. Unfortunately, we ended up at a tiny hotel called the Parliament Hotel. Thanks to the connections Coach Guerra has made, he was able to make a phone call and get some translations. However, this still wasn't good enough because we ended up at the Crown Plaza Hotel. We then fired our taxi drivers and hired some new ones that were successfully able to drop us off at the destination.

Again, our Turkish hosts treated us to a wonderful tour of the Bazaar, Citadel, and the oldest Mosque. The panoramic views of Ankara from the Citadel were extraordinary. Later, we enjoyed a small brunch that included; chai, interesting tasting sheep milk, and many different types of bread.

We then returned to the watch the finals at A.S.K.I. arena. Jordan started us out with a dominating performance to capture the bronze medal. Andrew also controlled his opponent with relentless attacks which kept his opponents on his heals the entire match. We were able to walk out of the arena with two bronze medals. Congratulations to Team U.S.A. and we are looking forward to our next day of competition.

The evening ended with great conversations with Coach Guerro, Coach Pritts, and USA Wrestling Official, Rusty Davidson.

August 7, 2009
by the Apprentice Coaching Staff

The day started like any other with a breakfast of bread, yogurt, cheese, meats, etc. Another bus ride along with several other teams raised the excitement for another day of Women's wrestling, as the remainder of the team had an enhanced feeling of confidence and energy after seeing their teammate, Victoria Anthony, capture her World Championship just last night. The entire team battled tough, and once again saw a US Woman, Veronica Carlson, advance to the Gold Medal match.

During the break we were treated to a tour of the Ataturk Museum and Mausoleum, which is a tribute to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Founder and First President of the Republic of Turkey. This was another spectacle to behold, and we were impressed with the history and pride of the Turkish people. We once again found ourselves very thankful to be here and to have these opportunities to see the culture and history of this wonderful country.

Back at the ASKI arena we were treated to some very exciting, hard fought medal matches. Though our own Veronica fell short on her quest for Gold, she can be very proud of the way she battled the entire match and throughout the day as she earned her Silver Medal. We appreciate the effort of our Woman's Team, and congratulate our 2 medalists, Victoria Anthony and Veronica Carlson. They all represented our country well by bringing their best, and we are proud of them.

As the day draws to a close, we can't help but feel a little anxious for the start of the Men's Freestyle competition which begins tomorrow. Like our Greco and Ladies teams, we know they've prepared hard, and we look forward to their opportunity to shine.

August 6, 2009
by the Apprentice Coaching Staff

We got a little extra sleep last night and felt more refreshed today. We started the morning off with the Freestyle practice. The guys looked great; focused and ready to go.

We then got to experience a ride with two future NASCAR drivers. They did not speak English and didn't understand Coach Barber's requests to slow down so he could get back to his wife safely. He showed us how to redline in 5th gear on the back country roads. Stop signs are optional and dotted lines on the road were only suggestions as we found ourselves 5 cars wide on a 4 lane highway. Drafting/Tailgating, drifting, and locking up breaks before speed bumps were other "highlights" of the trip.

After that we got a chance to look through the packed Bazaar in Ankara. It was a very active and loud market. Most of the clothing was westernized, but they had many Turkish foods and cultural goods. We were able to make a few bargains and get out of there with no one lost. For lunch, we enjoyed a traditional Turkey cuisine where we talked about wrestling and plans to get gifts for our wives. Later we walked up to the largest Mosque in Turkey and were in awe of its spectacular architecture. For many of us, it was the first time we have entered a Mosque. It was a unique experience. The people were friendly in helping us understand the etiquette. We can only begin to understand the importance of this place of worship to a largely Muslim nation.

The biggest highlight of the day was when Victoria Anthony battled through an impressive field to become a World Champion at 44 kg. It was a perfect way to end the day in Ankara.

August 5, 2009
by the Apprentice Coaching Staff

Last night was our first full night of sleep. Unfortunately, we did not get to sleep in too long. We awoke to the morning call to prayer at 5:45. Breakfast was another typical Turkish meal: meat, cheese, 18 types of bread, olives, yogurt, and (soft) boiled eggs. We loaded a packed bus at 7:30 or 8:00 depending on how fast we ate. The bus ride to the venue is about 30 minutes.

Although none of our Greco wrestlers medaled, there were glimpses of greatness in our future senior athletes. The arena and floor was extremely intense with National Pride! Countries supported their wrestlers with chants, screaming, horns, drums, and flag waiving that parallels the intensity of a college football game. We were fortunate to talk to young curious Turkish kids with many questions and big smiles.

Many countries have reached out to us as we have to them to find out about each other's cultures and we have embrassed each other as brothers of the sport. The finals matches were extremely intense with crazy scrambles - battling tooth and nail to score - to win for their country, family, and themselves.

The evening ended with a meatball dinner and USA staff discussion. It gave us all a chance to reflect on the Greco tournament and what we need to do as a country to continue to improve in order to win consistently at the highest level.

August 4, 2009
written by Mike Stokes

It's 6:00 a.m. in Ankara, Turkey.

We woke up to the sound of Turkish music playing in the background. It's day one of the FILA Junior World Championships. We have an excellent Turkish buffet laid out for breakfast. As we begin to load the bus, I notice many teams from around the world. Ten different languages are being spoken and tension is high. You want to be polite, but knowing our governments do not get along keeps you quiet as we arrive at the venue. Every country's flag is represented.

Morale for the U.S. team is good. The level of competition is high and one lapse of concentration or focus and it will determine the wrestler's outcome. No words can describe the intensity and excitement as the tournament begins. We can only pray that our team will rise to the occasion.

During the break, our host Ercan and Mamatt treated our entire coaching staff to a short, but very exciting tour of downtown Ankara after a wonderful lunch of their best foods. The apprentice coaches appreciate and respect our Senior coaches and their willingness to work with us. We can do all the preparations needed to prepare our wrestlers for battle, but the bottom line is only the wrestlers themselves can make our dreams come true.

As for myself and my fellow coaches; Keith Norris (Maryland), Ned Shuck (Minnesota), Matt Oney (Hawaii), Matthew Hampton (Illinois), Tony Guerra (Nevada/California), Michael Stokes (Montana), and Robert Witjman (California), we will always always be grateful to Sam Barber and USA Wrestling for the opportunity to learn and experience what it takes to coach on an international level.

NOTE: A group of USA Wrestling coaches are attending the Junior World Championships in Ankara, Turkey as part of the NCEP Coaches Apprentice program. This blog provides updates from those in the program.