Editor’s note: Alex Wray is the head coach of the Mat Monsters youth wrestling team as well as the Ashe County Middle School Bulldog wrestlers.
The back of the Mat Monster shirts say it all: It’s not how you start, It’s how you finish.
Last year, the Mat Monsters started out as a young, under-developed team. They experienced quite a few losses, but ended up second in the dual tournament in Alleghany.
So when the season was over, the coaches and I sat down and started setting goals for the following season. One of the goals was to have a couple of state champions come from our room. We also wanted to place in some of the larger tournaments and attend a few state tournaments.
We wanted to help cover the cost for kids that wanted to travel and wrestle but may not be able to afford it and I wanted the local businesses and people to help make these goals a reality. I had hoped for a great group of coaches to work with the kids, their families, and myself to help make the season a success.
If you believe it, you achieve it, goal setting truly works.
Since setting our goals, we now have two state champions in the room. We were able to go to the USA State Tournament and the AAU State Tournament. The Mat Monsters placed in every tournament we went to this year.
We also placed sixth in the AAU state tournament with three state champions. Also, in the AAU tournament a Mat Monster placed second, three of the kids placed third and another placed fourth and we had two that placed fifth.
The Mat Monsters did some fund raising for the kids at Pizza Hut and sold Krispy Kreme doughnuts . The profits from these fundraisers went to buy the youth their AAU wrestling cards, singlets, shoes and head gear.
Ashe County businesses invested into the Mat Monsters and I would like to thank a few of them: Clark Evergreen Landscaping, NAPA Auto parts, Appalachian Utilities, Bojangles, Bald Mtn. Auto Sales, Jewel Shoppe, Barr Insurance, Tamales, Calhoun, Pizza Hut and Magic Tan. Also, a special thanks to all of the good people of Ashe County who made donations and that care for Ashe County youth wrestling and thanks to Section 8 and all the other kids that joined up with the Mat Monsters this season.
A personal goal of mine was to become the head coach of the middle school Bulldogs. I wanted to contribute my wrestling knowledge and experience to the middle school with hopes of it spilling over into the high school wrestling program. I have developed a good relationship with high school wrestling coach, Keith Phillips. We have all worked well together this year and the Ashe County Bulldogs had a good season this year and we are only going to get better.
We will be tough to beat next year. Coach Phillips has been a big help me this year and we have the same vision for wrestling in Ashe County.
I have personally been blessed to have worked with this great group of kids, their parents and an outstanding coaching staff. I’m thankful to God for giving me the strength and power to do what I love to do and for allowing me to help mold boys into men by training the Mat Monsters.