The second year of Harker’s summer wrestling camp expanded on last summer’s successes and brought together a team of qualified coaches, as well as special guest Anthony Robles, the 2011 NCAA National Champion in the 125-pound weight class.
Among the staff at this year’s camp was legendary local wrestling coach Jay Lawson. A De Anza Hall of Fame inductee and longtime supporter of Harker’s wrestling program, Lawson brought decades of experience to help camp attendees perform at their very best. “Jay has been a mentor of mine since I was in my early 20s. When we first got into the league that Harker is in, he was one of the guys that took me under his wing,” said Harker wrestling coach Karriem Stinson, who co-directed the camp. “He was always positive. He always gave me encouragement and told me, ‘You’re building a great program there, keep going.’”
Each day started with a dynamic warm-up routine that incorporates gymnastics maneuvers such as rolls, flips and hand stands. Students would then practice techniques with the camp coaching staff, work on situational wrestling and play games before breaking for lunch. Each coach at the camp taught something new to the campers each day.
“Each coach [has] an opportunity to show what made us successful as wrestlers and even as coaches,” Lawson said. “And what [campers] have to do is to pick and choose what’s going to work for them.”
For wrestling enthusiast Solin Piearcy, a rising junior at Cupertino High School, the variety of new techniques shown at the camp was one of its biggest pluses. “I love how they bring in a lot of different coaches with different techniques and backgrounds,” she said. “We can pick and choose and learn a variety and put some in our arsenal and make it our own style.”
Leigh High School rising senior Ryan Cummings enjoyed the high quality of instruction provided by the staff. “All the staff are nice and it’s a good program,” he said. “I like the atmosphere that the coaches bring to the room. It makes you want to be there.”
The final two days of the camp were highlighted by visits from Anthony Robles, who spoke to the campers and offered instruction and advice on their techniques. Robles got involved with the camp when Stinson contacted him six months earlier. “The wrestling community, we’re very tight-knit,” he said. “So here I am now, just having fun and trying to give back to the sport that’s given me a lot.”
Since winning the NCAA Championship in 2011, Robles, born with only one leg, has focused on his career as a motivational speaker, though he devotes as much time as possible to the sport he loves. “Wrestling is still my number one passion, and I love being around the sport,” he said.
Robles’ motivation to pass on his knowledge comes from the inspiration he received from his coaches early in his wrestling career. “I remember getting started in the sport, my coach showing me moves or people showing me moves that just clicked, that became part of my style,” he recalled. “And so I just love seeing that on these kids’ faces. I show them some of my favorite moves and see it click for them.”