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Rolling Thunder Wrestling rolls out new facility

Photo illustration courtesy of Shamara Hornick/My Eye Photography Members of the Rolling Thunder Wrestling team.

NEW ULM — Years of dreaming, talking and planning for its very own practice facility culminated in success for Rolling Thunder Wrestling in 2021.

Rolling Thunder Wrestling (RTW), a youth wrestling club based out of New Ulm, was able to open the doors to a brand new wrestling facility in New Ulm late September. The 46×120 facility is located at 1607 South German Street and sits across from the New Ulm Junior Baseball Training Facility.

The wrestling facility was a goal RTW was aiming towards for years before hard work and generous donations made it possible this year.

“It’s always been a strong desire for our club to have our own training facility,” RTW board member Bonnie Fortwengler said. “The opportunity just came about within the last year through a donation of a parcel of land.”

That parcel of land was donated by Bev Luneburg, and work on the facility began in April. There were also fundraisers for the building project and the club had additional support from community businesses, current members, family and friends and alumni.

Staff photo by Travis Rosenau Coach Charlie Pickell instructs Ethan Sieg (left) and Harper Ruch (right) at the Rolling Thunder Wrestling Facility in New Ulm. In the back-left corner, coach Adam Hoffmann assists Jaxton Hoffmann (left) and Ryker Lietzau (right).

The New Ulm Youth Wrestling Association (NUYWA) had 105 individual donors contribute $55,130 and 39 business donors contribute $50,400 towards the new facility. Those still interested in donating can send a contribution to NUYWA at PO Box 341, New Ulm, MN 56073.

The general contractor for the project was Mark Voges Construction. Several other RTW members spent time working on the building also.

“We tried to keep a lot of the construction — as well as the support — with members of our club,” Fortwengler said. “Lots of people donated their time and energy, but also wanted to support their businesses as being part of our club as well.

“We are very thankful we have the opportunity that we have lots of people in our organization that also own their own businesses and can provide support. We have Nick Ruch, who did all of the concrete work, we have Tony Ruch Electric who has done all of our electric stuff … we have lots of people who have a background in construction and do all of that who were able to do that for our club as well.”

The RTW season starts Nov. 1, but several preseason practices have taken place leading up to the official start of the season. Those practices moved to the new facility in late September.

Volunteer parent coach Jared Ulrich assists Donovan Ulrich (black shirt) and Ryker Lietzau (white shirt) during a preseason practice at the new Rolling Thunder Wrestling Facility.

At this time, the building will be used as a training facility and will not host any tournaments.

New Ulm’s Just For Kix (JFK) dance club will also be leasing a part of the building for their dance classes. Fortwengler said that the partnership with JFK is one RTW is glad to have.

“We’re very excited about our collaboration,” Fortwengler said. “It fits in line with being active, supporting not only our organization, but with our building, we’re able to support another organization in town. That has been a wonderful partnership.”

In addition to RTW wrestling and JFK, the New Ulm Area wrestling team is able to get in work at the new facility also.

Fortwengler said that the new facility will give area wrestlers a place to call home and grow in many different ways.

Preseason coach Charlie Pickell and Cohen Kiecker tie up during a RTW preaseason practice as Cole Voges (left) and Kalen Linford (right) look on in the background.

“I think it is going to give them a place to call home,” Fortwengler said. “It’s going to really advance the family atmosphere that we promote as a club. I think it is going to give them opportunity to grow their strength, their team approach and just generally grow our organization.”

Nick Ruch said this new facility will also give kids a reliable place to come train at.

“We just want to provide a place where kids are always able to come and practice from when they are 4 or 5 years old to when they’re in high school,” Nick Ruch said. “COVID’s taught us something that you can’t control certain things like that and we were lucky enough to keep going. And now having our own facility, we don’t have to be reliant on somebody else’s space.”

While registration day was on Oct. 25, those still interested in wrestling this season can sign up in November by coming to practice on Monday or Thursday at the new facility. Pre-K to first grade practices from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., while the second to sixth grade’s practice is from 7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. For more information, visit rollingthunderwrestling.com.

From left to right: Ethan Drill, Chael Johnson, Harper Ruch, Conner Pierson, Kaden Fortwengler, Chase Lee, Coach Pickell, Hudson Schmid, Mason Schottenbauer, Cole Voges and Kalen Linford practice inside the new RTW facility on 1607 South German Street in New Ulm.

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