For high school wrestlers, parents and college wrestling coaches, the college recruiting process can be a time-consuming, stressful, confusing process filled with pressure.
Now a wrestling club in Brighton, Michigan, is helping high school wrestlers navigate the recruiting process while at the same time providing a benefit to college wrestling coaches.Legacy Wrestling is offering high school wrestlers a unique opportunity to go on a college wrestling tour, as well as attend a college wrestling exposure camp.
Legacy Wrestling is part of the Legacy Center Sports Complex, which opened in 2013. The complex, which offers training for several different sports, has two indoor field turf soccer facilities. One is a 104,000-square-foot dome space. The other is a 170,000-square-foot field house with one large premium turf playing surface and two smaller turfed areas for training and smaller sided programming. There is also a state-of-the-art, 12,000-square-foot baseball/softball training facility with seven batting cages. It’s described as the “Midwest’s destination sports complex that offers world-class facilities and professional grade training.”
Legacy Wrestling was launched in September of 2016. Kyle Hansen, a two-time All-American wrestler at Northern Iowa who served as an assistant coach at Ohio University for 10 years (2005-2015), was hired as Legacy Wrestling’s first director. Hansen’s lead instructor is Ryan Hope, a former Northern Michigan Greco-Roman wrestler and 2020 Olympic hopeful. Former Michigan wrestlers Jordan Thomas and Taylor Massa have served as instructors for Legacy Wrestling.
“I took over and had about a month plan and what we wanted to do,” said Hansen.
Legacy Wrestling kicked off with an eight-week preseason training cycle in the fall before moving into the in-season training cycle, which lasted around five months. Freestyle and Greco-Roman training started in April.
Hansen said the administrator at the Legacy Center Sports Complex encourages directors to think outside of the box, which led to the creation of the college wrestling tour and college exposure camp.
College wrestling tour
Legacy Wrestling’s college wrestling tour will take place July 24-28. Those who take part in the tour will have the opportunity to visit five colleges: Michigan State, Wisconsin, Central Michigan, Northern Illinois and Northern Michigan.
Wrestlers and coaches will travel to the five colleges in an RV, staying in hotels along the way. The five-day, four-night tour is limited to 20 wrestlers and costs $500 per wrestler. Wrestlers will have the opportunity to tour each school’s campus, work out in the wrestling room and meet the coaching staff.
“I thought it would be a cool opportunity just for those kids to be able to go to the college campus and see the facilities, meet the coach and ask questions that they probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to do outside of that because it would require time, traveling and parents having to take off work to travel around the country to see different schools,” said Hansen.
While wrestlers will have an opportunity to work out at the college, it’s not a primary focus of the tour.
“The idea isn’t workout-based,” said Hansen. “It’s more about the experience. It’s going to be treated kind of like an open mat. If some of my guys want to work out, great. If I was a high school kid I think that would be cool to work out in Michigan State’s room or wherever, an opportunity you don’t get every day.”
Hansen said he expects to mostly attract Michigan wrestlers in the first year, and because of that wanted it to stay more local with the tour this year. He plans to add different colleges to the tour next year and in the coming years.
“I had mapped out some other scenarios,” said Hansen. “I coached at Ohio, so obviously I was thinking about possibility doing something going down through Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.”
College exposure camp
Two weeks after the college wrestling tour, Legacy Wrestling will host a college exposure camp on Aug. 13. The goal is to provide wrestlers an opportunity to showcase their skills in front of numerous college coaches across all divisions.
“There aren’t a lot of combine-type scenarios out there for wrestling,” said Hansen. “For football, there are tons of combines out there where kids run the 40, pass the ball in front of numerous college coaches. We have one at the Legacy Center. We just finished it. There were 300 athletes and over 80 colleges represented.”
The college exposure camp is open to 80 wrestlers ages 14-18. It will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET on Aug. 13 at the Legacy Center Sports Complex.
Every wrestler who attends the college exposure camp will fill out an academic and athletic bio, which will include contact information, to be distributed to college wrestling coaches attending the camp. Coaches will observe and evaluate wrestlers throughout the day to determine which might be a fit in their program.
“Most of the time when you’re recruiting a kid you have to go watch him compete,” said Hansen. “When you’re coaching and recruiting, you learn a lot about a kid in practice. You know the kids who are good. They’re going to compete well, place or win state titles and place in national tournaments. But you can learn a lot about their work ethic and listening skills just by watching them in practice. I know coaches appreciate that opportunity. For kids that may be a little under the radar, they will appreciate that opportunity because they can showcase their work ethic or skills.”
The one-day camp will include technical instruction, live wrestling and skills tests.
Hansen has not yet finalized plans for the skills tests, but expects there will be running and lifting components. He views the tests as a way for coaches to see effort outside of wrestling.
“I think you can learn a lot about a kid when he’s tired and he’s going to try to finish a mile in seven minutes,” said Hansen. “Does he try? Or does he just start jogging because he knows he can’t make it? Or is that kid going to try to hit his goal of 15 pullups? Or stop at 10?”
To learn more about the college wrestling tour and college exposure camp, as well as other camps and training opportunities, visit the Legacy Wrestling website, Facebook page, Twitter page or contact Kyle Hansen by email at email@example.com.