RTCs Helping To Grow The Sport – FloWrestling

The wrestling landscape in this country is always changing. At the highest level, that shift is being pushed by Regional Training Centers.

Since the end of the NCAA season, it seems like every other week we are running a story on a new RTC coach. In the last few months, guys such as Mark Perry, Eric Guerrero, Kendall Cross, Valentin Kalika, Cory Cooperman, Bryan Medlin, Steve Mocco, and Stephen Abas have all taken coaching jobs at RTCs, without being on the payroll of the associated college’s staff.

Back in 2012, then-U.S. men’s freestyle head coach Zeke Jones said RTCs have introduced approximately $3 million per year of new money into the sport. As our look into the 990 tax forms of dozens of wrestling clubs showed, that number is only continuing to grow.

What the RTC phenomenon has done is created mini Olympic Training Centers, funneled money into the sport for retention of senior-level athletes, and created high-level kids clubs in the vicinity of the colleges. For example, former NCAA finalist Josh Kindig receives funding from the Tar Heel WC and is also able to raise the level of wrestling in North Carolina by coaching the young wrestlers in the area who make the trek to Chapel Hill at night.

The explosion in Regional Training Center activity has formalized and normalized training situations for our top athletes. Instead of just working out in Columbus, Ohio, Logan Stieber is an Ohio RTC athlete. Keeping Stieber around allows the junior-aged guys to learn from a world champion, giving wrestlers still in college a better idea of what it means to be a senior-level athlete and in turn adding a recruiting tool for prospective Buckeyes who wish to continue their careers beyond the NCAA level.

This benefit does not just apply to the Ohio RTC, but it has been the standard-bearer in terms of RTC success. In the last Olympic quad, Ohio RTC’s athletes earned 11 spots on world or Olympic teams. Former Ohio RTC coach Lou Rosselli is now in Norman, Oklahoma, working on growing the Oklahoma RTC with new RTC coach Eric Guerrero, who says in the interview below that they plan on modeling their program after the one Rosselli built in Columbus.

Ultimately, the RTCs exist to make everyone better. When USA Wrestling announced its coaching search last year to replace the retired Bruce Burnett, the message from the higher-ups was very consistent: We want a coach who can manage the athletes via the RTCs and communicate an effective peaking schedule remotely.

All eight members of this year’s senior world team for men’s freestyle are tied to an RTC as well as all of the finalists, some of whom have moved on to other RTCs  They are a key part of the hidden arms race in college wrestling.

It is even expanding to the women, as evidenced by the OKC RTC at Oklahoma City University. As women’s wrestling fights for emerging sport status in the NCAA, the WCWA continues to add members and work within the framework of USA Wrestling as a feeder program to the senior national and world teams.

At this point, the RTCs aren’t going anywhere. The ability to retain high-level athletes and make a living doing this sport can only mean good things. We will continue to report on new additions at the coaching and athlete level and monitor the explosive growth in RTCs as well as their impact on wrestling.

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