Coach Randy Chapman gives wrestlers on Houston’s new elementary-level team a grappling lesson.

Coach Randy Chapman gives wrestlers on Houston’s new elementary-level team a grappling lesson.

Young wrestlers get a grip

There’s a new game in town for Houston’s elementary school students—wrestling.

There’s a new game in town for Houston’s elementary school students—wrestling.

Coach Randy Chapman says turnout is strong so far, and by May 4 he expects to host some 40 first-year wrestlers in a tournament at Houston Secondary.

Training Grade 3’s and 4’s takes a bit more focus than the high schoolers Chapman led in this year’s zones championships, but he gets help on the mat from nine of the older wrestlers.

“They’re bringing fellow wrestlers up into the program,” Chapman said. “When you coach, you double your learning because you see all their mistakes and you see your own.”

“The kids will say, ‘Well, your hips aren’t low,’ and then you’ll say, ‘Yeah, you’re right!’”

By the time the younger wrestlers get to Grade 8 and the secondary team, Chapman said they’ll already have four years of training.

“That’s four attacks, and four defences from standing, ground and escape. I can live with that,” he said, laughing.

But before growing the sport and raising up champion wrestlers, Chapman says his top goal is to teach safety, something he learned the hard way when his own high school coach forced him to play hurt.

“That was about the points, it wasn’t about me, and that’s bad coaching,” he said.

“It should be all about your athletes, all the time.”