By Rob Potter
FALLSBURG A group of young wrestlers had the opportunity to learn from one of the most accomplished and well-known amateur grapplers in the nation on Friday and Saturday.
The Fallsburg Youth Wrestling Club hosted two clinics with Wade Schalles on Friday and two more on Saturday at Fallsburg Central School.
Schalles, a native of Holidaysburg, Pa., was a four-time NCAA champion while wrestling for Clarion (Pa.) University and was a national champion or All-American in folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman.
In addition, he is in the Guiness Book of World Records for all-time wrestling victories with 821 and pinfalls with 530. He was named to the NCAA 75th anniversary team and is a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
On Friday, 16 youngsters attended the clinics to learn from Schalles. Most were members of the Fallsburg Youth Wrestling Club, but a few of them attend Warwick High School or Roy C. Ketcham High School in Wappingers Falls. Fourteen of those kids returned for the two clinics on Saturday.
As he watched Schalles demonstrate a hold for the 14 boys, Feldman praised the famed grappler.
“He has so much wrestling knowledge,” Feldman said of Schalles. “But he keeps it simple so the kids can learn.
“He teaches an old school technique,” Feldman continued. “Most coaches today start out teaching five minutes on takedowns, five minutes on reversals, five minutes on holds and then five minutes on pinning. Wade starts with five minutes on pinning, then five minutes on holds, five minutes on reversals and five minutes on takedowns. So he spends 20 minutes total on pinning.”
Whenever he demonstrated a new pinning technique during Saturday morning’s clinic, Schalles mixed in some humor. That, of course, brought smiles to the kids’ faces as well as to their parents’ faces.
“These kids are great,” he said. “They are having a lot of fun.”
Schalles said he teaches about 25 wrestling clinics across the U.S. every year. In addition, he has a wrestling club in Washington, D.C. where 250 sixth through 12th graders learn and train.
He had a club in Orlando, Fla. as well, which is where he and his wife, Deb, lived for the past 12 years. But earlier this year the couple moved to Washington, D.C. to be closer to their son Jake, who is a student and wrestler at the Unites States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Schalles always welcomes the opportunity to teach kids about wrestling.
“Wrestling teaches self-discipline, persistence and hard work,” he said. “You are always thinking out there on the mat, planning your next move. Wrestling is a physical chess match.”
Schalles also believes that “there is no such thing as a handicapped wrestler.
“You can still participate if you are blind, deaf, or missing an arm or leg,” he said.
Schalles noted that living proof of that statement is his friend Kyle Maynard, who has no forearms or lower legs. Maynard competed at the 2004 Georgia High School Wrestling Championships and wrestled at the University of Georgia. He recently began training in mixed martial arts and made his amateur fight debut back in April.