A commitment to excellence
Panther Valley head coach Tim Robb is a wrestling junky and it's no surprise that he's trying to pass down his passion of the sport to area wrestlers. Robb is doing just that, bringing in NCAA talent to Panther Valley High every Saturday to school the kids on different techniques.
PV wrestlers aren't the only grapplers benefiting from the clinic with Jim Thorpe, Lehighton, and Tamaqua wrestlers attending as well.
"We want to improve the wrestling of the whole coal region area", said Robb. "If we bring these kids together and teach them the right techniques there only going to get better by wrestling against each other."
Rob Krapf is helping Robb run the clinic and he agrees the overall goal is to get the area better and compete with the bigger Lehigh Valley schools.
"We want to get our kids to a level where they consistently beat the Lehigh Valley wrestlers", added Krapf. "We also want our programs to improve especially with all the recent school budget cuts. We have to keep wrestling off the chopping block."
The clinics have two sessions. A morning session for 6th grade and below and an afternoon session for grades 7 through 12.
"A typical day at the clinic consists of the kids doing some warm-up drills and then we pretty much hand over everything to the clinician", said Robb. "They mostly go over a lot of technique, but it's also nice for the kids to see what they could become if they put in the time."
The clinic offers a chance for area wrestlers to compete against each other all the time rather than just during the season. Helping the cause are a host of dynamic wrestlers from the NCAA ranks that have taken their time to help strengthen the coal region area programs.
The list of volunteers who have been part of the clinics at Panther Valley reads like a who's who of wrestling greats.
Among these wrestlers are former Blue Mountain and present Oklahoma State wrestler Josh Kindig; former Northern Lehigh and Drexel University All-American Ryan Hluschak; former Pitt Panther Keith Gavin, a 2008 NCAA National Champ at 174 pounds; former Northampton High School and Drexel Univeraity standout Steve Mytych, who was a four-time NCAA qualifier; and Whitey Chlebove a former Northampton and West Virginia All-American.
Robb, who has attended the last several NCAA Division I wrestling tournaments and has filed stories for the TIMES NEWS on local athletes who qualified, said those connections played a key role in getting elite wrestlers for his clinics.
"It was a huge help," said Robb. "I got a chance to talk to some of these guys and they were all for coming in and helping us out."
When all is said and done Robb and Krapf would like to turn the clinics into a charter program called "The Coal Region Rumblers". This would bring together area wrestlers on a year-round basis rather than a few months out of the year.
"We're really excited about what we have going on here", said Krapf. "With the talent we have in this area, the sky is the limit if we can bring this all together."