USA Wrestling Mark Munoz’ West Coa...

Mark Munoz’ West Coast Wrestler Camp develops a creative online camp format during pandemic, July 20-24

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | June 10, 2020, 4:08 p.m. (ET)

Mark Munoz, a Junior World finalist, NCAA champion at Oklahoma State and past MMA star, has brought many of wrestling’s top stars to his native California for his annual West Coast Wrestler camps. He has been doing this for 15 years.

In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic restrictions made it not possible for Munoz to conduct his camp.

Rather than cancel it completely, which would deprive the opportunity for many young wrestlers to learn and improve this summer, Munoz decided to be creative. How can you teach wrestling without being able to bring people together in person?

“My wrestling club and camps have been a staple in this community. For 15 years, I have been bringing the best guys here to the West Coast for the camp. When they told me I couldn’t run the camp, I was like ‘what can I do to continue this and help develop the community even during this crisis?’ My wife and I thought about it. She is so involved in what I do. She was the one who created the website. We can do an online camp, and have it as a tool. Hopefully, the ban can be lifted and they can get a partner to use the website to develop in the sport. Anyone who has access to a device can learn from this and use it as a tool,” said Munoz.

This year, the West Coast Wrestler Camp will be entirely online, July 20-24, bringing many of the nation’s best wrestlers to his campers through the internet. The slogan for this year’s camp is MOVE FORWARD.

“I love giving back to the wrestling community. I grew up in the wrestling community. I wrestled in USA Wrestling tournaments all around the nation. Thank goodness there was an organization in Vallejo that helped me get to a lot of those places, like Cadet World Team Trials, Cadet Nationals and Junior Nationals and Junior World Team Trials. I was able to travel around the nation and the world, because I made a few World Teams. I was able to compete in the sport I love. Now I am giving it back,” said Munoz.

There will be five days of camp, three hours a day. There are two hours of instruction each day, plus one hour of strength and conditioning workouts that can be done from home.

Campers will be able to sign up for more than 15 hours of action-packed online sessions held over the five days of the camp. The clinician lineup includes four past NCAA champions David Taylor, Yianni Diakomihalis, Nahshon Garrett and Nathan Tomasello, all who are also outstanding international stars, with Taylor holding a World title and Diakomihalis a Cadet World title.

Also making appearances are Olympic champions Jordan Burroughs, Helen Maroulis and Brandon Slay, along with NCAA champions Anthony Robles and Jason Nolf, plus wrestlers and MMA stars Urijah Faber and T,J. Dillashaw, among others.

Athletes and coaches can find out more and register for the camp at westcoastwrestler.com

Campers will receive technique and advice from top wrestlers and coaches, video breakdowns, wrestling specific segments on things like nutrition, leadership, growth mindset, goal setting, structured strength and conditioning workouts, personal testimonies, and live Q&A sessions designed to make a positive impact.

What makes this camp even more powerful is that through its online structure, athletes from all over the nation can participate, widening the potential impact that the many wrestling hero clinicians can make on the campers.

In addition, if wrestlers are unable to attend during the June 22-26 camp dates, they will have the option to watch the content online anytime they choose during this year.

“High School athletes and younger wrestlers have missed several months of mat time and we have worked with USA Wrestling and California USA Wrestling to bring together a team of world class instructors and build this important educational opportunity,” said Munoz.

Bringing great wrestling minds and instructors to his California community has been something Munoz has been doing for a long time. Creating instruction videos is one way that he has been able to make these people available to motivated young wrestlers.

“I have been fortunate enough to meet a lot of people along the way. These are the people who are on my website. I did this series called the Clinic Series of Legends. I had 12 clinics and 12 legends. I brought them here to the West Coast, teach technique and invest in the community out here. It has been amazing,” he said.

Going through the creative process of imagining the online camp, the practical process of finding quality instructors for the project and the technical process of making it all function correctly on the internet has been a learning experience for Munoz.

“It is a lot of work. I learned a lot. I learned about how to communicate, not only through the sport but to communicate in personal relationships with different people in the sport who are doing great things. This is about developing the sport. People just see my heart. People see the purpose behind what we are doing. For anything I do, I want to do what I can do to help provide a way for kids to excel,” he said.

Munoz often helps those who may not have the resources to use his different platforms in order to make it more accessible.

“What I do is provide them resources. I help them to either find a way to raise the money to get a computer, or I will have them partner up with somebody that has a device and they learn together. Whatever it is, there is always an answer. I make sure they are able to use the platform that we have been pulling together. That is another thing I have learned. There is always a way. If you want something bad enough, there is always a way to make it work. Who wouldn’t want to learn from all of these legends on the site or on video,” he said.

Giving back is something that Munoz enjoys doing, as well as many of those who are involved with his camps and other wrestling projects.

“That is how the wrestling community has strived for many, many years. Those who have paved the way before those who are competing now are able to give back to them. It is just an endless cycle of how it has always been. In this technology age, there are a lot of different things we can do. Online, you can learn from whoever wants to be your coach,” he said.