It’s About Time: Wrestling In KIF

The initial schedule for the 2012-13 Kauai Interscholastic Federation (KIF) school year is out, and it includes some new additions to the typical slate.

“The KIF is adding wrestling, JV softball and JV baseball as interscholastic sports,” says KIF executive director Diane Nitta. “We take this first of many opportunities to acknowledge and thank our local and state wrestling community for their assistance in raising the funds to purchase needed equipment and supplies.”

The inclusion of JV softball and baseball is great, but having a wrestling program will be the real treat for both the kids and spectators.

When I first began covering high school sports on Kaua’i, one of the biggest surprises to me was that there was no competitive wrestling going on. I’ve never wrestled – actually, I guess that’s not entirely true. I was a proud member of the KWF, or the Kids Wrestling Federation, which my friends and I created in third grade. We modeled it directly after the WWE (which was still called the WWF at that time). We signed contracts before matches, choreographed our maneuvers, had predetermined outcomes and crowned Heavyweight, Intercontinental and Tag-Team champions.

I’m pretty sure my first-ever trip to the principal’s office was for successfully defending my Intercontinental title during recess on the playground. No more matches at school after that.

Obviously, real high school wrestling is a much more technical and skillful practice. It was huge in my school, and we had three or four state champs in my grade.

It seems like a no-brainer for Kaua’i at this stage, especially with the popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA) and UFC. The ability to fight with your back to the mat is an important skill in MMA. It’s also one of the first taught and most necessary aspects of wrestling. Figuring out how to roll and learning balance and weight shifting are just as vital as knowing basic maneuvers.

A wrestling program can be such a benefit for many students who may need a physical outlet, but who may not be able to afford the costs of a private martial arts studio. While I think that team sports almost always benefit everyone involved, some kids are better suited to push themselves in a more individual manner. Rather than channeling both typical and atypical teenage angst in a negative fashion, now the kids can be physical in a controlled environment, which is much better than allowing emotion to win out someplace else.

The discipline necessary to remain a competitive wrestler also is a great life skill. Having to always be conscious of nutrition and making weight doesn’t permit much leeway and can create good habits.

Based on the athletes this island has and the determination they show throughout all other KIF seasons, I expect there to be really competitive matches with high skill levels not long after the wrestling programs get going.

I also know that when it comes time for states, the other islands certainly won’t be excited to see the Kaua’i boys across the mat.

Until next week, this is the still undisputed KWF Intercontinental champion, David Simon.