Kids wrestling program has caught on in terms of quality, quantity
By Bryan bonato Special to The News-Sun January 9, 2013 1:34PM
Four-year-old Evan Martinez, with the Waukegan Youth Wrestling Club, wrestles in the Rumble in the Dawg Pound youth wrestling tournament at Waukegan HIgh. Sunday. January 6, 2013. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
WAUKEGAN YOUTH WRESTLING CLUB
Wrestlers wear same colors as Waukegan High School’s wrestling team: purple/green/gold.
There are 84 wrestlers in the program, ranging in age from 4-14.
Three of the 84 are girls.
Heading the program is Derrick, Nobel, a prep star at Carmel in the early 1990s. He finished second at state in 1992 at 112 pounds and fourth the following year at 119. He then went on to wrestle at Illinois State University.
Updated: March 11, 2013 2:22AM
It wasn’t that long ago that you could count the number of youngsters committed to the Waukegan Youth Wrestling Club by using all your fingers and toes, but without asking anyone else to contribute their digits to the count.
That all has changed.
Last Sunday, the WYWC hosted its annual Rumble at the Dog Pound youth wrestling tournament, and spectators got a first-hand look at the large quantity and high-quality program that Waukegan is building under the direction of Derrick Noble.
This year’s tournament featured around 400 wrestlers, and several area youth clubs were represented, including the Fox Lake Wrestling Club which feeds into Grant High School’s strong wrestling program.
Noble literally was all over the mat at the tourney, solving minor problems that came up and supporting his numerous purple/green/gold-glad wrestlers that he coaches.
Here’s what the coach had to say about the Waukegan club:
■ On Waukegan returning to prominence in the sport of wrestling at the high school level:
“We’re at the very beginning stage of getting Waukegan back to the powerhouse it used to be. This is where it begins, with the kids wrestling at this level and filtering into the high school.
“From where we started, we’ve seen the numbers just sprout. Right now, we have 84 wrestlers across the different weights and age groups. The program is growing and we’re excited about the future of wrestling in this area.”
■ On why he’s so focused on teaching kids to wrestle:
“I wanted to do this because when I was the age these kids are now, somebody took the time out for me. My good friend, who is also one of our coaches, his dad drove us out to Arlington Heights and Barrington three days a week, every week, until we were in high school.
“Because of wrestling I was able to go to college for free. It made me disciplined and taught me the mentality that anything is possible. Doing this was a great way for me to give back after everything that wrestling had done for me.”
■ On how he wound up working with Waukegan kids:
“I started my own program in 1999 over in North Chicago when I was the head wrestling coach there (North Chicago High School).
“After a four-year stint I moved over to Waukegan. Recently, we changed the name from Takedown Wrestling to Waukegan Youth Wrestling because we are now like a feeder club to the high school. We work hand in hand in with them, but my kids get filtered to all of the schools in the area. We have kids who will wrestle at Warren and North Chicago, as well as here.”
■ On some top prospects:
“Our 13- and 14-year-olds, and some of our 12-year-olds will be freshman in high school next year.
Some of them are the best we’ve had come up through our program, and they’ll have the potential to be competing at the varsity level in the next couple of years. Noah Jackson and my son, Kyree Noble, are two of them.
“We also have three female wrestlers on the team too. Judibett Montalvo took second at the boys tournament we were at last week. She’s something to see. She can beat the boys.”
■ On practice making perfect:
“We practice three days out of the week, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for 2 hours 30 minutes each day. We’re up at 6 in the morning on Sundays on our way to a tournament. One of the things we’ve seen is that because of the grueling nature of the sport our parents form a really close network that has helped us build the program.”