By Angie Norris
A local youth sports league continues to help students excel in wrestling after the effects of COVID-19 closed a former practice location. The Center Grove Wrestling Club trains students from kindergarten through eighth grade before they transition to high school. Currently, there are three returning state champs on the CG High School team: junior, Hayden Watson; senior, Riley Rust; and junior, Drake Buchanan.
Members of the club practiced at the high school until the pandemic hit in March and schools closed, forcing students to stop practicing. Coaches were told that it would most likely be early 2021before administrators would consider letting students practice again. “I wrestled my entire life,” said Mathew Kelly, a 2014 CG graduate and former wrestler now coaching and running the club. “If someone had told me at their age that we weren’t going to have a season, I would have thought my life was over.”
Kelly joined the Marine Corps after graduating CGHS. In 2018 he returned to Center Grove, hoping to coach the sport he loves. When Kelly learned the club wouldn’t have access to the high school for the foreseeable future, he began asking his friends for ideas on a new location to hold practices. In August the president of the club, Joel Buchanan (Drake’s father) secured a 6,400-square-foot space in Bargersville, which he allowed Kelly to transform.
There was plenty to do to get ready for opening when the club secured the location. There was no electrical lighting, and there was exposed insulation in the walls. The Center Grove wrestling community immediately rallied around the club, offering their services in order to open as quickly as possible.
While most wrestling clubs charge $100 or more per month, the CG Wrestling Club charges a one-time fee of $100 that covers the cost of a single uniform members wear during the season. The remainder goes toward club operations. “It’s not a high school program where the school athletic department gives us money,” said Kelly. “We have to make money to support the club, so we needed a space to generate some kind of income so that we could keep the club running.” Club leaders hope the location will be a long-term benefit, as the space will allow them to do things that other clubs can’t such as hosting small tournaments and clinics for the wrestling community.
“It is the strongest sports community in the world,” Kelley said. “Wrestlers are just there for each other.” Kelly is grateful and unsurprised by the outpouring of support from the wrestling community.
The Center Grove Wrestling Club is at 2991 Fulmer Drive, Ste. 7 in Bargersville. For more information, call (317) 506-5280.