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Bridgeport Parks and Recreation Youth Wrestling Season About to Get Underway; Coach Shawn Taylor Shares his Own Story and Why He Believes the Sport Teaches Important Life Skills

By Julie Perine on October 10, 2018 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Wrestling is like life, Shawn Taylor said. With strength and determination, a dire situation can be quickly overturned. Bridgeport Parks and Recreation is gearing up for the 2018-19 youth wrestling season and once again, Taylor will head up the program. Open to ages 5 to 15, the season starts Tuesday, Nov. 6. On the evening of Monday, Oct. 29, an information meeting will be held for parents.
 
“We’ll inform parents what to expect, giving a brief overview of what the sport of wrestling is for those who don’t know anything about it,” Taylor said. “For those who are already planning on (participating), we’ll tell them what to bring to the first practice and go over a brief tournament schedule, which can change because programs are still putting tournaments up on the board. We’ll basically just answer any questions and share some stories on how each of us coaches have gotten into wrestling – and what keeps us in the sport.”
 
Taylor’s story began in Akron, Ohio, wrestling in middle school and high school.
 
“I wasn’t able to do many other sports because of my size,” he said. “Small kids can excel in wrestling and I just had a motor. My friends said I could go all day. I wasn’t the best at it at first, but I eventually got better during my junior and senior years of high school, making major leaps.”
 
Though he received scholarship offers to wrestle on a college level, Taylor decided to join the U.S. Marine Corps. He had planned to participate on the All-Marine Wrestling Team, but because his service was during wartime (2007-2011), his first-choice job specialty of Intelligence was changed to Infantry and he wasn’t able to attend tryouts.
 
“It was tough, but I have no regrets. It made me a better person,” he said.
 
Taylor believes he could have been a better wrestler if he had someone to mold him as a young athlete. And although he didn't have aspirations to become a coach, once he got into that position, there was no turning back. 
 
“After my first year of coaching, I realized that I could give kids what I didn’t have at a young age,” he said. “I didn’t have anyone to show me certain things. I can do that and hopefully touch base with a few of these kids to carry that on and to be even better at wrestling than I was.”
 
Taylor has two sons with whom he is passionate about sharing his wrestling skills and knowledge. He invites all other children age 5-15 to come on board, too. 
 
By joining the league, young athletes will learn skills and techniques to compete in local tournaments. Last year, 26 kids participated in the program.
 
“They were dedicated to a sport which is physically and mentally tough,” Taylor said. “They took it from its basics to as far as they could -and some even a little further than that. (Five athletes advanced to the state tournament.) But they were all there to take the steps to make them better athletes in general.”
 
This year’s program will operate much the same as last season. Practices will be held at the Bridgeport High School field house 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Participation cost is $25 per wrestler, which includes a T-shirt. Additional fees will be incurred for tournament costs.
“We’ll only be making minor tweaks to make the program better,” Taylor said. “If we have enough to coach the room, we’ll split younger kids from older ones so the younger kids can learn the very basic stuff and the older kids who understand the sport a little better can learn basics, but also wrestle with others to make it more challenging for them.”
 
Taylor invites those with wrestling backgrounds – and those without – to help with the league.
 
“We have some parents who don’t know the sport, but still get involved. We had some dads on the mats to help – and some moms who helped with things, too,” he said.
 
Taylor is convinced that wrestling is the best sport.
 
“It’s one of the only sports that you can be down big points and win in a matter of two seconds by fighting hard,” he said. “If you can get on the mat and put your mind and body through six minutes of grueling fighting and go from being on the bottom to on top, it shows you that anything in life can be overcome if you apply hard work.”
 
This year’s season is starting a little earlier than past years as the first competitive tournament is Nov. 10.
 
“Hopefully, some of our wrestlers will return and be able to wrestle in that tournament and some newer kids who just have their first week of practice under their belts can go watch and see what the tournaments are like,” he said.
 
The season will run into late-February or early-March.
 
The Oct. 29 informational meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at Benedum Civic Center. Register at Benedum Civic Center. For more information, call Bridgeport Parks and Recreation 304-842-8240. Access a registration form HERE.



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