On June 27 eight wrestlers from the Pineapple Wrestling Club traveled to Oahu to hone their skills at the Wrestling Camp of Champs held at Hawaii Pacific University’s windward campus.
“This is the first year the Camp of Champs was held in Hawaii and it was a great opportunity for our athletes to compete with mainland wrestlers and network with college coaches,” says Pineapple Wrestling head coach Aaron Fernandez. “My assistant coach Clayton Ohara travelled with the team and they learned a lot in just five days.”
The camp, usually held in San Diego, offers the athletes the chance to wrestle in a season’s worth of matches (five a day) and participate in clinics led by top wrestling coaches from around the country.
Fernandez believes that another benefit of the camp is a glimpse at college life for the LHES students.
“The wrestlers had the opportunity to meet college coaches and get a sense of what it like to live in a college dorm,” says Fernandez. “This is important because it emphasizes the fact that wrestling is a viable avenue to college for my athletes.”
The wrestlers are also encouraged to network with the camp’s coaches and clinicians, helping them gain influential contacts when applying to colleges. This year, the camp’s clinics were led by a number of accomplished wrestlers who hold titles including an Olympic champion, a U.S.A. World team member, an NCAA national champion and a Bulgarian World team member.
“The camp staff kept the wrestlers motivated, and emphasized the importance of setting a goal and working out with a purpose,” says Fernandez.
Hard Work Pays Off
This motivation unites the team and sustains their wrestling and conditioning, which is made possible through club fundraising. The wrestlers raised money through benefit concerts, car washes and a number of food sales. In addition to these efforts, the club received a number of grants and sponsorships this year. For example, the tuition, lodging and travel expenses for each athlete to attend the Camp of Champions was fully covered by the Pineapple Wrestling Club – nearly a thousand dollars each. “Fundraising is essential to our program, and helps our athletes appreciate the continued investment and support they receive from our community,” says Fernandez. “Just as important, the cost of wrestling competitively does not prevent anyone from joining our team.”
The wrestlers are already hard at work raising money for their next trip in August to the AAU Junior Olympics in Houston. Be on the lookout for the Pineapple Wrestling Club’s next fundraising event!