By Rob Potter
FALLSBURG An opportunity to learn more about a sport from one of the world’s best competitors in that particular sport doesn’t happen too often.
But many members of the Fallsburg Youth Wrestling Club took advantage of just such an opportunity last Saturday.
For several hours in the Fallsburg High School cafeteria, 10 to 15 Fallsburg Youth Wrestling Club members had their grappling knowledge greatly expanded by Vougar Oroudjov.
Oroudjov, a native of Russia, moved to the U.S. eight years ago. He won the freestyle world championship in the 105-pound (48 kilogram) division in 1991 and again in 1995 and earned the bronze medal in that weight class at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
Fallsburg Youth Wrestling Club Coach Al Feldman met Oroudjov at area tournaments and the two men became friends.
Feldman invited Oroudjov, who has been an Assistant Coach for the Nassau Community College wrestling team for the past four years, to drive up to Sullivan County and conduct a clinic for the Fallsburg Youth Wrestling Club members.
Oroudjov, who founded the Vougar’s Honors Wrestling Club last year in Plainview on Long Island, was happy to oblige.
“I want to help these kids,” said Oroudjov, whose son Nick Arujau, a student at Syosset High School, won the 2008 New York State title in the 112-pound weight class. “I want them to learn more about the sport and get better.”
Every few minutes during the clinic, the young wrestlers gathered around Oroudjov, who would demonstrate a technique on Grant Greene, a member of the Vougar’s Honors Wrestling Club who accompanied Vougar to Sullivan County.
Then they moved to different areas of the mat in groups of two to practice the techniques on each other under the guidance of Oroudjov, Feldman and fellow Fallsburg Youth Wrestling Coach Joe Conway.
“We are teaching them offense and defense,” Oroudjov said. “We are teaching them the right techniques.”
Jonathan Mathews, who lives in Marlboro, served as a volunteer coach at the clinic. His 11-year-old son, Aiden, has wrestled Feldman’s stepson, Nick McLean, at area tournaments and the two fathers have become friends.
And Jonathan Mathews was happy to participate in the program.
“To have a clinic like this with a quality wrestler like Vougar is just awesome,” Mathews said. “These kids are learning the little points, the fine points of wrestling today. And that will benefit them now and in the future.”
The future is something Feldman is focusing on as well. He wants to see local high school wrestlers excel in the Section IX Tournament and advance to the state tournament.
“We want to make Section IX wrestling, especially here in Sullivan County, more exciting and successful,” Feldman said.
Getting kids involved with the sport at a young age and seeing them stick with it is the key to that goal.
“Holding a clinic here in Fallsburg with Vougar, who is a two-time world champion, what more could you ask for?,” Feldman said.
Feldman noted that the Fallsburg Youth Wrestling Club is always looking for new members. For more information, call him at 693-4307.