By Kathryn Rice
Spoofhound Youth Wrestling is in its first year as an organization and in partnership with Maryville Parks and Recreation.
“We started the program because there wasn’t a solidified club in the area and it was difficult to find consistency,” Coach Tyler Tapps said. “Parents of some of the wrestlers really wanted a solid organized club so we decided to work toward that goal and do it for the kids. It has been an ‘all hands on deck’ type of approach for the practices even if the coaches have no experience.’
The youth wrestling, which was held in the Maryville High School multi-purpose building, has grown from approximately 13 at the end of the 2018-19 season to 58 for this 2020-21 season.
“This program is important because we want to build a strong wrestling program for the junior high and high school but more importantly we want to build strong character,” Tapps said. “Our kids push themselves, they focus on the process. We want to establish a culture where these kids love coming into the wrestling room to have fun, compete and build confidence.
“It isn’t always easy, there are some bloody noses, sweat and some tears but at the end of it they all leave better off,” Tapps said.
Tapps explained wrestling is a tough sport to jump into later on without any experience. Wrestling is unique in that it is a team sport where the athlete’s contribution is 100 percent individual.
Spoofhound Youth Wrestling preaches a lot about being a great teammate and supporting each other.
“Sometimes, there is no lonelier place in the world than out on a wrestling mat in the middle of a circle,” Tapps, who was a wrestler, said.
The practices are built around USA wrestling curriculum for the most part. Kindergarten through second graders learn skills through drills and games focused on having fun. They learn how to control their bodies through footwork and movement drills.
The third through sixth graders practice are focused on techniques and live wrestling.
“We partner with the high school team and we support their efforts as well,” Tapps said. “Some of the high school and junior high wrestlers often come and help out at practice and that warms my heart the most. It is important for these kids to watch the older kids wrestle at meets and duals as well.”
With COVID-19, the new organization was challenged with obstacles like other organizations. In a typical year, they would have worked to schedule a youth wrestling night to announce the youth club wrestlers along side the high school team.
However, the community and wrestling families were able to acquire some wrestling mats and other donations to secure the necessities to having practices. Things like mat cleaner, supplies and mat tape that are necessary.
“This is what also led to partnering with Maryville Parks and Recreation,” Tapps explaned. “We have a strong mitigation plan and I am proud of the commitment the parents and kids have made to ensure that we are doing our part to keep kids active and involved for their physical and mental benefit.
“We officially became an organization with our own EIN number this year so that we can focus on raising some money for things we need to host tournaments and camps in the future. We do not currently have an organized board but there have been so many who have helped out significantly.
Miraya and Greg Barmann, Betsy and Jeremy Tobin, Jayme and Heath Higdon, Jesse and Jake Steins, Allison and Cody Blackford, Nichole and Clint Dew, Monica and Chad McCollough, and Jolisa Gomez have all been vital in the original launch such as shirt sales, tournament information, fundraisers, concession stands and general support.”
At this point in the young organization, everyone is a coach. Tapps has leaned on former MHS wrestling coaches Joe Drake and Jay Drake.
“They have been vital pieces to the wrestling community here for many years and have so many former wrestlers that I really lean on a lot of those guys to come in and help,” Tapps said.
Spoofhound Youth Wrestling is looking for donations and support through its “Brick by Brick” campaign. The organization’s main focus is on acquiring two new mats that can be used for tournaments and other events.
“We have some creative ideas for having an outdoor takedown tournament on the fields at Donaldson in the spring,” Tapps said. “We would also like to look into using the Carl and Cheryl Hughes Fieldhouse to host an annual winter ‘Fury at the Fieldhouse’ youth tournament that could draw a substantial amount of youth participants. The mats are key to this success.”
The next big item is team singlets. The youth organization would like to acquire 30 to 35 singlets that wrestlers can use all season at tournaments.
“Some have their own but some are new to the sport and we don’t want those kids to feel like they are not part of this team,” Tapps said. “We would be able to inventory them out and then turn them in.”
The third major focus is less on fundraising and more on growing the awareness that “girls wrestle too.”
“Although we do have a few girls signed up we would like to focus on growing this part of our club,” Tapps said. “Girls wrestling is one of the fastest growing sports in Missouri and the country.”
Spoofhound Youth Wrestling started a loaner shoe and headgear box. People have donated old wrestling shoes and headgear that are being cleaned up and having available for the young athletes and parents who can’t afford or are trying the sport out. We have them available at practice and ask that they get returned. We are always open to accepting old shoes or headgear you may have lying around.”
Fees for each athlete were $50 for this year, with an October registration date. Practices are held at the Maryville Community Center with kindergarten through second grade practicing at 6 pm, Tuesdays, and third through sixth graders, at 6 pm, Thursdays.