Foxcroft wrestling camp shows young grapplers how they can be champions
DOVER-FOXCROFT — For the 18th consecutive summer wrestlers in grades 5-12 from across Maine came to town to learn techniques and skills they can use during the upcoming scholastic season at the Foxcroft Academy Olympic Wrestling Camp held July 23-26. The camp features guest clinicians and this year the younger grapplers had the opportunity to learn from two Maine wrestlers who have gone on to earn collegiate All-American status.
Camp coordinator and Foxcroft Academy and SeDoMoCha Middle School/Foxcroft Youth Wrestling head coach Luis Ayala said the 2019 session features a record-high 75 boys and girls, with many spending the night in the school dorms. He said campers are from the Dover-Foxcroft, Dexter and Guilford areas as well as schools such as Dirigo of Dixfield, Camden Hills, Caribou, Skowhegan, Mountain Valley of Rumford, Nokomis of Newport, Medomak Valley of Waldoboro and Mount View of Thorndike.
The wrestlers had the opportunity to learn from rising Husson University juniors Danny Buteau and Eddie DeRoche. Last season Buteau, who earned four state championships wrestling at Oak Hill of Wales, finished first at 141 pounds at the National Collegiate Wrestling Association championships. DeRoche, who wrestled in high school at Mountain Valley, came in sixth at the national tournament for collegiate club wrestlers to also earn All-American status.
“It’s great, we brought in Maine kids who are wrestling at the next level,” Ayala said during the lunch break on July 25, saying campers are able to relate to the two college athletes. “Now the connection’s there. They’re young, full of energy and the kids love them.”
Buteau said he also worked at the Foxcroft Academy Olympic Wrestling Camp in 2018. “I came here last year, last year there were 50 kids,” he said. “This year there’s 75 kids so there’s more kids. It’s exciting, there’s a lot to take care of but the kids are learning and we’re having fun.”
“We got here Tuesday morning. We do two sessions a day then we brought them to the dorms. Wednesday, yesterday, we did two sessions, we went to the beach and then the same thing, we stay with them in the dorms all night and then today this is the first session. We each lunch, second session and they we’re going to play paintball with them then come back Friday and then they leave after the second session on Friday.”
For DeRoche, the camp is is his first as an instructor. “This is the first time I have taught kids in general, besides practice rooms,” he said.
“We’re doing a little bit of everything, we’re doing a little bit of neutral, we’re doing a little bit of top work, we’re doing a little bit of bottom work,” Buteau said. “Most of the time the first session we try to stay up on our feet and the second session we do some mat work. The first day we did an underhook series and we did a Russian arm series. We did a cradle series on the second session and then the same thing the second day, worked on our feet second session worked on our bottom.”
“I like seeing progress, that’s probably my biggest thing,” he said about what he likes best about camp. “I love being here with the kids. If we have a kid who’s just starting out and then it just clicks for him. Maybe he hits a double leg takedown 10 times wrong and you’re sitting there trying to show, show, show him and he finally gets it. Bang, he hits it semi-perfect and you’re like ‘that’s it, keep working on that, do that every time.’ That’s my favorite part, I love it when the kids eventually get it and they’re getting better, and we’re creating better wrestlers in Maine.”
“I like seeing the kids enjoy it,” DeRoche said. “Me and coach Ayala talked about it last night when you bring Olympic wrestlers and NCAA wrestlers they have no idea who these kids are but you bring in two kids from Maine who are closer to their age and then they see that these kids are only in college and they’re good at wrestling. It’s a little more relatable to them and I feel that they enjoy it more when they can communicate.
“Even in the dorms after hours they’re still coming and hanging out with us and talking about video games or wrestlers. You can just tell they’re enjoying it more than if they had a grown man in there that teaches them and goes back into his room for the night and comes out in the morning, that’s what I like about it.”
Ayala said this wrestling camp is different than others because throughout the week the grapplers, divided into a half dozen teams, are competing in everything to accumulate points over the four days to determine various squad and individual winnes.
“Not just on the mat, we’re competing throughout the week,” he said as Thursday afternoon began with a duals tourney. “We do steal the bacon, we do running events outside and then we do the ultimate individual tournament where you have individual champions so we still do those things. We’re here to do wrestling but sometimes the kids need a little break from technique so let’s do a little competition, competition to get them cheering for each other and that makes it really fun.”
“Everything adds up for points at the end the teams that win get first- and second-place trophies,” Ayala said. “Then the clinicians give out Camper of the Week, someone that stood out, worked hard, had a great attitude and they’ll get a big trophy from those guys.”