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Women’s program looking forward to Rio and beyond

By Terry Steiner, U.S. National Women’s Freestyle Coach It has been a busy couple of months since the Olympic Games in London. A lot has happened in the Women’s National Program at USA

Wrestling. Let me take you through the events so that I can give you some perspective and also, a look to where I think we need to go in the future as we look forward to Rio in 2016 and beyond.

• Earlier in the year, we made a decision to discontinue the USOEC program at Northern Michigan University. Coach Shannyn Gillespie molded and shaped that program for seven years and what he did for the National Program during that time is hard to measure. He had a significant impact on our results from 2005 through the 2012 Games in London. We thank him and wish him well in his new endeavors. When we started the USOEC Program in 2005 with Coach Gillespie, we had only five women’s college programs in the USA. Also, we had, what was called the B.J. Stupak Grant. This grant covered the cost for USOEC team members for their schooling, room and board. In 2011, we lost the Stupak Grant and we now have 20 college programs in the USA for women’s wrestling. It was time to make a change to use our money more effectively. The USOEC served its purpose, but it ran its course. • In August, after the Olympics, Coach Izzy (USA Wrestling

Assistant National Coach Vladislav Izboinikov) informed me that he had accepted a job in education as a middle school principal here in Colorado Springs. This was a huge surprise! Coach Izzy is one of a kind and is in a class of his own as a teacher of the sport. He has had a HUGE impact on this program since 2005. In light of these changes, and our results at the Olympic Games, I thought it was time for me to really look at the pro- gram from the inside out. I made a decision that I thought to really steer the program in the right direction that I had to see everything first-hand so that I could to make the best decisions possible as we move forward to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. • I attended a few days of camp with the FILA Cadets to see what I could on these athletes and their development. What I saw was alarming to me. Although I liked the kids we had in for camp, I was frustrated by the lack of time and development we had with them. I do not blame the athletes. I blame myself first and the development structure that we have had, or a lack there of.

• Next, I attended the FILA Junior World Championships in Thailand. This trip was another eye opener. Again, I saw a great group of athletes. I saw a team that was very close. I saw a team that was very coachable and willing to listen. But I also saw a team that needs development in a lot of areas. I think that we have failed them with our current system. A lot of this has been because of budget constraints but we do not have a choice, we must change.

The cost of doing business in women’s wrestling around the world has changed and we MUST be willing to change with it or we will find ourselves on the outside looking in. Again, the trip to

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Thailand was encouraging because I know we have a great group of young athletes that want to succeed. Also, I found out that we have a very support- ive group of parents who are willing to help. The trip was very educational. It definitely lit a fire! • Late in September, we had the Senior World Championships in Edmonton, Canada. The USA Team performed pretty well we crowned two World champions (Elena Pirozhkova and Adeline Gray). We also had medalists in Helen Maroulis (silver) and Alyssa Lampe (bronze). It showed me where we stand as we move forward. I think we should push for a World team title every year during this next Olympic quad. But we have work to do! • In early October, I attended the University World Championships in Finland. Again, this showed me that we have a lot of work to do not only with our technique development but our education in nutrition and sport psychology. Again, I saw a group of athletes that want to learn, that want to win, but I feel that our system has failed them a bit. • Finally, as I write this, I am sitting on a plane on my way back from the FILA School for Coaches of Female Wrestling. The Course was held in Wladyslawowo, Poland. After the meet- ings, I feel that we are in a good place. We have a lot of work to do and a lot of sacrifices to make, but we are better off than most countries.

Terry Steiner Now I will outline our plan moving forward. There are a lot of

aspects to this, and I will not lay everything out, but I will give you a general vision for the program moving forward: • We need to work together! From our states, to our colleges, volunteer staffs, volunteer coaches, our parents, our national staff, and the organization. The first country that finds a way to have “strong TASK COHESION” and work together for the ben- efit of the National Program will be the country that takes the lead in Women’s Wrestling. China has numbers, Japan has a great system and a tradition of excellence, and Russia has knowledge of how to win and expectation. We need to bring it all together! We need to over come this with the fight, spirit and the power of Unity! If we can find a way to work together and put the Task of USA women’s wrestling to the TOP of the World Ladder, NOBODY will stop us. Nobody! • We will put a HUGE focus on our FILA Cadets and FILA Juniors! To win Olympic medals at 20 years of age, we need to be purchasing them when our athletes are 15, 16,17, 18, and 19 years old. We cannot buy the Olympic medal in one year, at age 20. We need a “Gold Medal” Process. The investment must be made along the way! We have set up a series of develop- Continued on page 35

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