Photo: Kaneland wrestlers did their part in spring yard cleanups for senior citizens in Sugar Grove in the effort to raise funds for a trip to Wisconsin for a wrestling camp. Over 280 hours were spent volunteering. Courtesy Photo
Wrestlers’ week at camp fueled by helping community
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—How do 28 Kaneland middle school and high school wrestlers spend four days in the Wisconsin Dells area?
By competing against fellow wrestlers from states like Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska and Wisconsin in a team wrestling camp.
An involved week at the Malecek Wrestling Camp from June 25-28 was the final piece of a puzzle that had various levels of the Kaneland wrestling program doing good in the area as a fundraiser to send team members to the elite camp.
The wrestling staff brainstormed some ideas and the plan was announced at the winter Wrestling Banquet in March after setting a goal to send kids to a well-known camp.
According to KHS wrestling coach Monty Jahns, the team volunteered 281.25 hours to the community, with an additional 111.75 hours donated by coaches and parents.
The camp featured 60 high school teams and over 900 wrestlers, but the matches, dual meets and round-robin tournaments were only part of the overall package.
In order to raise funds for the camp goal, donations for volunteer work was decided upon after the brain trust wanted to go a non-traditional route—away from discount cards and popcorn.
Area institutions like the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva, the Sugar Grove Senior Center, Sugar Grove Historical Society, John Shields Elementary School, Conley Farm and Delnor Hospital received volunteer hours.
Beginning the spearheading of the project in the winter, Jahns believes it couldn’t have worked out better.
“It was great that they were able to do this, and we helped people,” Jahns said. “It taught them responsibility and got them out in the community.”
The final total of 17 wrestlers making it to the camp was the result of the very definition of a group effort. The size and scale of the volunteer effort was a new experience for volunteer coach and Knights Wrestling Club coach Bob McCaffrey.
“I have volunteered for larger organizations and have been part of other ‘traditional’ fundraisers for local sports teams,” McCaffrey said. “The most impressive thing was seeing the boys learning and understanding the impact that volunteering has on the people they were helping.”
McCaffrey also made mention of incoming senior Eddie Rodriguez, the Student Administrative Assistant of the program.
The man-hours paved the way for actual mat time featuring duals and round-robins, making for an experience well worth it.
“The competition is a measuring stick for where they boys are at and what they need to prepare for the upcoming season. By being together in the off-season they grow and learn as a team,” McCaffrey said.
Successful wrestling contingents often are only as good as their team effort. An effort on the scale of the past four months seems to bode well for the Kaneland crew.
“This was due to an outstanding effort and constant communication. It was awesome,” Jahns said.