A Golden Opportunity
Rolling Thunder wrestlers meet wrestling heroes at U of M
That high-quality wrestling was a dual at the University of Minnesota as the No. 11 Gophers hosted Purdue on Jan. 22. The Gophers remained unbeaten inside Maturi Pavilion after winning six of 10 bouts to defeat the Boilermakers 20-12.
Rolling Thunder Wrestling (RTW), Pre-K through sixth grade, acts as a development program to build youth wrestlers into the high school talents that area wrestling fans see whenever they make the trip to New Ulm High School for prep wrestling action.
Chad Cooreman, a coach the past two years for RTW, said that taking the RTW kids to a collegiate wrestling dual used to be done more often in past years.
“Tony Ruch and some of the older coaches that had kids in the program a long time ago always used to set this up in prior years,” Cooreman said. “They used to take a coach bus or a bus and they’d take the kids up because they wanted to do something as a family atmosphere. It’s a good bonding experience for all the kids and the parents themselves, get to learn a little bit more about wrestling, see the college side of it, and for the young wrestlers to have some of these older guys they idolize growing up, to see them in person.”
With an interest in taking youth wrestlers to college duals again, RTW got the ball in motion last spring by reaching out to the sports marketing team at the U of M.
“Last spring, we contacted the Gophers’ sports marketing team at the U of M, and with some of their new administration and coaches, they want to showcase teams throughout the state of Minnesota at every home dual now throughout the year and the coming years,” Cooreman said. “They want to promote the sport, especially for the youth, because the youth is the future of the sport. So we contacted them and they said, ‘Hey, if you bring more than 15 people it’s five bucks a ticket,’ our club paid for all the kids to go and parents were able to sign up. We got it lined up with Sleepy Eye Bus Service, and they were very accommodating for us. So I’d like to thank Bruce Woitas, the Athletic Director for Sleepy Eye [St. Mary’s] and their staff for making this happen.”
After getting to Maturi Pavilion and prior to the action, 33 RTW wrestlers got to go down to the mat and meet the Gophers wrestling team, exchanging high fives and handshakes. After returning to their seats and watching the first half of the dual, intermission was called and the entire New Ulm group of wrestlers were introduced as the team of the dual.
In addition to the RTW wrestlers, there were also seventh and eighth-grade wrestlers and some high-school wrestlers that were invited. Cooreman said there were 118 total from New Ulm that attended the dual.
Cooreman also credited coach Adam Hoffmann for helping get this idea in motion to reward the kids for their efforts on the mat and in fundraising.
Without hours of volunteer help and fundraising, a memory like this wouldn’t have been possible for RTW.
“Our club does a lot of fundraisers throughout the year to kind of help promote and raise money for the club and for our kids to do camps, for us to buy mats, singlets, apparel, things like that,” Cooreman said. “The fundraising started last year with our first annual golf tournament [at New Ulm Country Club]. Then we always do raffle tickets during registration when our season starts, and our season runs from November through March. And we also did a pizza fundraiser, teamed up with Swany’s and we sold over 1,600 pizzas this year. The parents are deeply involved in this. That was part of the other thing, we want to thank the parents and the kids for their efforts and helping make the club a success.”
If interested in getting a child signed up and on the mat for RTW, reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Rolling Thunder Wrestling on Facebook.
Cooreman said anyone is welcome to attend a practice at any time to watch or ask questions. Currently, Pre-K, Kindergarten and first grade practices are from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. on Monday and Thursdays, while second through sixth grade has practices 7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays all at the new facility located at 1607 S. German in New Ulm.