By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
Team Toba will wrestle for a chance at the podium at Canada Games Park in Niagara this summer. Head Coach Kris Stasiak and Manitoba Amateur Wrestling Association (MAWA) Executive Director Jane Chartrand share how Manitoba’s wrestling athletes will be training and what it means to represent our province on the national stage at this highly-anticipated multi-sport event.
Preparing for Niagara: Physical Training, Mental Training, and Competitions
In the middle of their wrestling season, Canada Games practices are currently held once a week to allow for athletes to continue to train multiple times a week at their regular clubs.
“Once our regular wrestling season ends in March, we will increase our practices to three, four times a week, which will include technical skill development and strength and conditioning training,” said Jane.
Head Coach Kris started wrestling in Poland about 50 years ago and began coaching in Canada in 1996. He said most of the physical training is done on the mats right now, but mental training is important, too.
“Part of the mental training is visualizations and correcting old mistakes from the tournaments, so the kids know what went wrong, what needs to be corrected, and so on,” said Kris.
Jane said it’s been challenging to get the Games program up and running due to the pandemic. But they have been able to bring their training squad to a couple out-of-province camps over the summer in Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as some pre-games competitions this fall/winter in Saskatchewan and Ontario.
“Our next major upcoming competitions are scheduled for the end of January in Edmonton and then Nationals in March in Calgary.”
A team selection competition is scheduled to be held in May, where the final Team Toba roster will be looking to fill 11 male and 11 female weight classes.
Although some athletes might not make the team in the end, Kris said that shouldn’t be a deterrent.
“That should be a motivating factor to train harder and get better,” said Kris.
Manitoba wrestlers born between 2003-2006 are eligible to try out.
Jane adds the athletes will benefit from experienced coaches who will pass on their skills and expertise to Team Toba.
“We have coaches that come from different parts of the world like Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia, USA. I believe that our wrestling community really benefits from this because we get to learn of the many different and unique wrestling styles,” said Jane.
Wrestling on the National Stage
First and foremost, Kris said he is looking forward to the wrestlers having a fun and memorable experience in Niagara.
“For some of them, that might be the closest thing they can get to the Olympics,” said Kris, who has attended two Canada Games. “ The kids always have fun and meet other competitors their age and they learn from that. It’s a great lesson to see what’s out there and what they have to achieve.”
Jane agrees, these games are a rare experience of a lifetime.
“Train hard, have fun, and savour every moment. It’s not every day that you have an opportunity like this! Being a part of the Canada Games, you will have the opportunity to represent Manitoba and compete against the best wrestlers across the country, you will meet many new people along the way, build lifelong friendships and lasting memories.”