For the primary time in a very long time, highschool wrestling is coming again to the Larger Bangor space.
Spearheaded by Calais native and longtime wrestling coach Aaron James, a cooperative crew representing Bangor, Brewer, Hampden Academy, Hermon, John Bapst and Orono is on observe to start this winter sports activities season.
There are at the very least 60 varsity wrestling groups represented in Maine, based on James. However a historic lack of native management, compounded by the pandemic, has taken a toll on the game’s presence in Penobscot County.
The world’s largest highschool, Bangor Excessive, has by no means even had a wrestling crew.
“There aren’t any groups round right here, which is a disgrace,” co-head coach and Foxcroft Academy alumnus Caleb Pelletier mentioned. “It’s such a tremendous sport that develops so many good qualities in individuals. Everybody ought to strive it out at the very least as soon as.”
Impressed by this collective perception within the worth of wrestling, James was capable of recruit 4 co-head coaches in Pelletier, Connor Winchenbach, Jeff Whalen and Jordan Fogg, and an athletic director to sponsor the crew, in John Bapst’s Dan O’Connell.
Pelletier wrestled on the NCAA Division I degree at West Level and Whalen at Maryland, whereas James and Winchenbach had key roles in beginning the membership groups at UMaine and Husson, respectively.
“I can’t consider a greater teaching workers anyplace within the state of Maine than what this cooperative crew goes to have,” James mentioned. “These guys are all good individuals too.”
Beginning this crew was a ardour venture for James and his fellow coaches. They’ll be teaching practices with out pay on the Hampden Grange, which James owns. All that’s left for them to do is obtain authorization from the Maine Principals’ Affiliation and to recruit a crew. James is one assembly away with the MPA from getting this approval.
“Whether or not it’s 5 or 50 children, it’s nonetheless going to be a profitable season,” Winchenbach mentioned. “It’s solely going to develop exponentially from there. I do know what wrestling did for me and my associates — it’s one large neighborhood that this neighborhood proper right here is missing.”
James believes that wrestling is a sport for everybody, not simply due to how weight courses degree the taking part in area.
“It doesn’t should be the tallest, the shortest, the quickest or the strongest,” James mentioned. “I take a shine to children that work actually onerous. It’s not only for males both — I’m an enormous advocate for ladies’s wrestling.”
Girls’s wrestling is among the quickest rising sports activities on the scholastic and collegiate ranges, says James. In keeping with the Nationwide Wrestling Coaches Affiliation, the variety of ladies wrestling in highschool has grown from 800 in 1994 to greater than 50,000.
In Maine, highschool ladies are permitted to wrestle alongside boys, however can even compete for a ladies state championship.
“We’re going to attempt to host our personal girls’s match right here in Bangor,” James mentioned. “O’Connell and I’ve already had that dialogue.”
The primary factor the coaches search for of their potential wrestlers is toughness and a willingness to study. They imagine Bangor space faculties have a surplus of this character.
“So many individuals that develop up in Maine have it born in them,” Pelletier mentioned. “They only want a approach to let it out. We’d like to see the world turn into a hotbed of wrestling exercise.”
Attain out to Aaron James through the Hampden Grange Fb web page for extra info.