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2016 Year In Review--A Message from our Executive Director

By Nathan Coburn, 01/12/17, 7:00PM EST


The year 2016 consisted of a controversial and polarizing election cycle in the United States, along with just as polarizing a course in the world of wrestling. As our nation has found itself to be divided in recent times, most notably during such a contentious election cycle, the wrestling community has continued to stay strong as the tightknit niche it has so promptly become.

As we reflect, we appreciate. We appreciate those who have helped us along our journey and the memories along the way. On behalf of Virginia-USA Wrestling (VAWA/Virginia Wrestling Association) we would like to give thanks to USA Wrestling as a governing body and the great help from those in Colorado Springs’ office, along with the volunteers, administrators, coaches, parents, and competitors for the many sacrifices they make to ensure the steadfast growth of our great sport.

Through Team Virginia programs such as the newly implemented Elementary/Middle School Dual Teams along with our perennial Schoolboy, Cadet, and Junior teams, we have been able to bring together the finest wrestlers from throughout our state to take on the best from throughout the nation.

Everyone measures success differently—whether as a competitor, coach, official, or parent. For the most part, many of us naturally measure one’s success via accomplishments on the mat. From an organizational perspective, we measure success in a large variety of ways. Virginia Wrestling Association has clearly cemented itself as a premier wrestling organization and Team Virginia as a strong competitor in the national scene. With Mason Manville’s Cadet World Freestyle Gold in 2014, Kurt McHenry’s Cadet World Freestyle Gold in 2016, Coach Rob Prebish’s selection to coach Team USA at the 20th Maccabiah Games, we’ve even made an impact at the international level.

We left Fargo (Cadet/Jr. Nationals) this year with 16 All-Americans, a repeat National Champion (Jesse Kirby), and back-to-back Team Spirit Awards. Though the Team Spirit Award may not mean much, what it embodies does. Winning that award displays that our competitors, though competitors amongst themselves, come together as one Team Virginia, supporting each and every kid wearing the bold ‘VA’ across their chest, no matter what school or area they may originate from.

Shortly after Nationals in Fargo, the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro began and these Games were one for the ages. Two great points are to be made after watching the performance of Team USA. With Kyle Snyder at age 19, becoming the youngest ever Freestyle Champion in U.S. wrestling history, he proved that the investment we make in young wrestlers goes a long way. Helen Maroulis became the first U.S. woman to ever bring home gold, defeating arguably the greatest wrestler of all time (16-time World/Olympic champion, Saori Yoshida of Japan) in her pursuit to Olympic glory. Helen’s performance proved the importance of our investment in the ever-so quickly growing field of women’s wrestling. These investments are two of the cornerstones of our organization—youth and women’s wrestling are two issues we focus on in a day-to-day basis with VAWA.

Additional accomplishments of 2016 that are worth mentioning include:

  • The amount of Virginia wrestlers who have already committed to continue their wrestling and academic careers in college (joining the 265 other Virginians currently competing in Divisions 1, 2, 3, NAIA, NCWA, and NJCAA) Click Here for full list of current college commits from VA

  • Bri Csontos’ selection to become a resident athlete at the Olympic Training Center in their new developmental program (displaying the caliber of women’s competition the state of Virginia produces) Click Here for Full Article

  • Bill Swink’s NWCA honors (goes to show the national caliber of coaches that we give our wrestlers access to)

  • VHSL’s first [two] ever women’s wrestling tournaments (thanks in large part to VAWA’s State Women’s Director, Sara Bahoura)

  • The many successes of our Elementary & Middle School Dual Teams as they have represented us in the Malvern Prep Duals, Virginia Beach National Duals, West Penn Duals, and VAC Holiday Duals thus far (thank you Tom and Tina Kibler for your relentless help)

  • Team Virginia’s showing at Beast of the East and other major tournaments (proving that Freestyle/Greco Roman and offseason wrestling directly translates to success in Folkstyle—the age old saying from the t-shirt stand at an off-season wrestling tournament, “Summer Wrestlers make Winter Champions”)

In closing, I would like to thank my Executive Committee and Board of Directors for all the help in my transition to the Executive Director role, along with the many tasks we have faced in my first six months in the position. I am extremely excited for the future of our organization, our state, and our sport as a whole. Virginia Wrestling Association is committed to the promotion of amateur wrestling, the world’s oldest sport, while instilling qualities such as leadership, sportsmanship, and perseverance in all of our athletes, coaches, officials, and volunteers.

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