Women's Freestyle Team begins acclimation camp in Sicily

By Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling | Sept. 07, 2019, 4:59 p.m. (ET)

SICILY, Italy – The U.S. Women’s Freestyle Senior World Team wrapped up its first day of acclimation camp in Sicily, Italy. The acclimation camp is the final camp before the World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, which starts Sept. 14.

At this camp, there are 20 athletes (10 World Team members, 10 practice partners), five coaches so far and six support staff.

Check out what the squad was up to today:

7:30 a.m. – Breakfast
After a long day of travel yesterday, the women were up bright and early for breakfast. The meal was simple with bread, meat, cheese and eggs. But thankfully, the most important breakfast item was there: COFFEE!

10 a.m. – Practice
The practice facility is located about a 10-minute walk from the hotel (or a two-minute car ride), so the team went half and half on transportation. I walked with some of the team and staff, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous as well as the view. To your right is the beach, and in front of you is the city. It made for an easy trek.

Prior to warmup, National Women’s Freestyle Head Coach Terry Steiner pulled the practice partners aside for a short meeting, emphasizing how important their role these next few weeks will be. He also encouraged them to soak up every moment and treat it as a learning experience because they could be on the team next year.

Warmup was led by Army WCAP coach Jermaine Hodge, who is also 57 kg rep Jenna Burkert’s personal coach.

Here’s some of the drills the athletes worked on:

  • Establishing a presence/moving your opponent
  • Blocking/ defensive drills
  • Front head-lock offense/getting the angle
  • Leg-attack offenses
  • Takedown to a turn

Practice lasted about 90 minutes and then everyone headed back to the hotel.

1 p.m. – Lunch
Lunch for the athletes included rice, potatoes, pasta and fish, while the coaches and support staff had pasta and chicken.

The team nutritionist, Taylor Maggio, is working closely with the hotel restaurant to make sure the wrestlers have clean, healthy options. The kitchens prepares menus and meals especially for our group, and they have been super accommodating.

3:45 – Meditation
After a short nap, it was off to meditation with sports psychologist Karen Cogan. Today’s first session included National Team assistant coach Clarissa Chun, four-time World champion Adeline Gray, two-time World silver medalist Alli Ragan and 2018 World bronze medalist Mallory Velte.

Karen led the group through a 20-minute session with the focus of being in the moment and learning to shutout distractions, which I imagine was a little tougher than it sounds as our meditation spot was right near a crowded beach and the hotel is located near the airport. Multiple planes took off right above us during the short session, but from what I could see, nobody even flinched.

4:30 – Practice
The second practice of the day was left up to the women to work on what they needed. Tons of different things went on in that practice. Some warmed up by shooting some hoops, while another group went out for a quick run. Then about half the athletes worked on technique and certain positions on the mat, and the other half spent time in the weight/cardio room.

7 p.m. – Meditation (group two)
Karen led another session of meditation with athletes that were interested. This time, it was on the beach while the sun was setting.

7:30 p.m. – Dinner
By the time 7:30 rolled around, there was a longing for some more food. The athletes chowed down on chicken and steak with rice and salad. Support staff had pasta and pork. (Looks like there’s gonna be pasta at every meal, and I’m not mad about it!)

Once everyone filled their stomachs, the restaurant staff went out of their way to put the UFC fights on the big screen to end the night.

Tomorrow it starts all over again with a similar schedule.