The 2015-2016 wrestling season is now fully underway for the Escalon Wrestling Club (EWC). Over 60 youth grapplers from ages 5 to 15 are on this year’s roster with a good mix of returning wrestlers and newcomers to the sport. The entire coaching staff returns to guide the club with EHS Head Coach Derek Scott as the President. Scott Page returns for the third year and has taken the role of EWC Head Coach with Eric Rowe, Nathaniel Nash, Dimos Birakos and Larry Lawrence as well as some of the EHS wrestlers rounding out the staff. There are also parent volunteers helping out and providing important assistance as well.
“We work very well together and are all friends as well as colleagues sharing the same approach to coaching wrestling,” stated Coach Scott, adding that he and Nash wrestled together at EHS and then at Division I Cal State Bakersfield with Rowe joining them there and Page wrestling at nearby Division I Fresno State. Coach Birakos doubles as the Head Coach for the El Portal Middle School program with Nash assisting him there and Rowe assisting at EHS as well. Tracey Miller returns as EWC Vice President and unofficial Team Mom.
“Tracey has really become the glue that holds the club together,” said Scott. “I can’t stress how important she is to the EWC and how much she does for the kids.”
The EWC practices at the Escalon High School wrestling room on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the north end of the New Gym and allows sign-ups at any time during the season. Scott, an EHS educator, added that he gets great support from the school; allowing the club to keep costs down. The cost is $60 to sign up and includes a team shirt.
“All that is really required are wrestling shoes to practice and compete. We charge as little as we can for EWC membership,” said Scott.
The Club holds fundraisers throughout the year to cover costs and will host a Tournament of Champions (TOC) qualifying tournament on Jan. 10. The EWC is a non-profit organization and all funds raised are put back into the club.
“We are part of the SCWAY organization in Zone 2 and only charge $10 for kids to wrestle at nearly all of the tournaments. All of our Zone 2 tournaments are within an hour’s drive and no kid who wants to join is turned down. We offer financial assistance if needed to ensure every kid an opportunity,” said Scott. “A lot kids join from the Outlaw football program as wrestling is a great tool to improve balance and positioning for tackling.”
Next up for the EWC is the Oakdale TOC qualifier on Dec. 13 at Oakdale High. Like the Escalon TOC in January, the top 3 qualifiers in each Advanced weight class qualify for the prestigious tournament held later in the season. There is also a Beginner division for newcomers to the sport.