New wrestling club springs from common interest

Andy Jobanek

Ankeny frequently hosts football, soccer and Frisbee in the form of pickup, intramural and club games, but in the shadow of those sports, a new one has emerged. On Sunday, April 5 a group of wrestlers held the first meeting of their new club sport on Whitman’s central field.

Rebecca MacFife, '11, tussles with a fellow wrestling club member at a club gathering. Credit: Norman.
Rebecca MacFife, '11, tussles with a fellow wrestling club member at a club gathering. Credit: Norman.

“[Wrestling’s] just one of those things I got really interested in at one point and talked to people around here and they had interest, so I thought it’d be cool to start a club and get things going,” said sophomore Viral Oza, a four-year wrestler in high school.

The club formed last semester, but spent most of that time trying to get funding from ASWC. Oza asked for money from ASWC’s contingency fund to supply wrestling mats in Sherwood for next semester.

Oza stated that turnout for the club has been strong so far, and he thought that the addition of mats with the indoor environment would draw even more people to the club. So far, the biggest meeting of the club was ten people: a sign of general interest, but also of the club’s infancy.

“Right now [the club’s] just a couple people who are interested who come together and roll around,” said Oza. “Most of the people haven’t wrestled since high school or only wrestled for two years in high school so things are a little rusty and we’re just catching up on stuff.”

The club won’t be able to travel to any tournaments this semester, however, due to their size, but hope that in future years they will be able to compete at local meets within Walla Walla County as well as host campus tournaments. Oza doesn’t see the team traveling beyond Walla Walla due to the tremendous time commitment that would require.

“I’m hoping we can develop a school roster where people have matches, but it’s very low key, informal and not competitive oriented,” he said

The club would have to travel outside of Walla Walla to receive funding from the athletic department, according to Oza, although the department recognizes them as a club sport on campus.

Next year, the club will operate on a $100 budget funded solely by ASWC. Most of this money will go towards little things such as advertising and protective headgear.

The response to the club has surprised Oza so far, who didn’t know what direction the club would take once he formed it last semester.

“Initially, I had no idea what it was going to be,” said Oza. “At first I thought it’d just be people who wrestled before but didn’t want to wrestle competitively.”

With several other clubs on campus, Oza sees the wrestling club filling a niche within the club sport community, while still offering the laid back nature of other club sports.

“People who wrestle in high school really like the concept of rolling around and trying different things,” said Oza. “A lot of people don’t think it can be informal, but it can be very informal like Frisbee, or a pickup football or a pickup soccer game. So if you have a mat and a couple people who want to roll around it can also be very informal.”