Vinemont High’s new wrestling program aims to empower students

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Vinemont Wrestling will debut in the 2024-2025 academic year for students in grades seven through 12. (Vinemont High School)

VINEMONT, Ala. – The recent announcement of wrestling making its debut in Cullman County has sparked considerable interest and anticipation within the community.

Vinemont High School Principal Robin Netherton elaborated on the decision to launch the school’s wrestling program, stating, “We had actually been talking about it here at Vinemont amongst my coaches for a while of offering wrestling, thinking it would give us an avenue of offering another winter sport besides basketball. Ideally, we would love for all kids at Vinemont to be involved in at least one extracurricular activity. We have lots of options. We want to have something for everybody.”

Netherton reflected on the success of the cross-country program that was established at Vinemont for the same purpose – to add more opportunities for different types of students.

“I started the cross-country program back in 2009 with the same idea. So, then Mr. Barnett brings it up in a meeting two weeks ago, that he would like to see if there was any interest in schools having wrestling. I’m not sure what the catalyst was, but I know where his heart was, because it’s just like me – I want to see kids involved. We know that kids who are involved do better in school. Plain and simple.”

With the support of Vinemont’s staff and the necessary resources now in place, the Vinemont wrestling program is set to launch this year. The announcement has been met with enthusiastic responses from both the community and students. Coaches Anthony Pace and David Stokes will lead the initiative, with assistance from trainers and former state champions who have volunteered to contribute to the program’s success.

Among the local supporters are Daniel O’Brien, owner and head instructor of Triad Martial Arts Academy Cullman, who has offered his expertise to help kickstart the wrestling team.

“If you don’t know Daniel, he is a world champion guy with wrestling and MMA,” Netherton noted, highlighting the caliber of mentorship the program will receive.

Wrestling activities will commence following the end of this year’s football season, with club wrestling and training sessions planned in the lead-up to the official wrestling season.

Netherton emphasized the inclusivity of the sport, stating, “This is a male and female sport; it’s for anyone that wants to do it. The goal is to give our kids an avenue to be successful. That’s pretty much it.”

Netherton also highlighted the broader significance of introducing sports like wrestling in communities such as Vinemont, underscoring the value of ensuring year-round extracurricular opportunities for students.

“If you really do some research on indicators of success in students, one of the huge things is kids having mentors and kids being involved in successful programs. So, our goal is to have one more thing where our kids can form bonds with coaches and each other. To help them think beyond themselves and think, ‘What I can do for my school, my community.’ To have a civic outlook. To think, ‘It’s bigger than me,’” Netherton explained.

Reflecting on the keys to a successful program, Netherton outlined three essential components: “With any program, there are three parts that make it successful, you got to have coaches that treat the kids well. The second part is, you have to have athletes that are willing to work hard and do what the coaches say. The third part is you got to have a community of parents that support the coaches and athletes to do the hard things. With all of our sports, win, lose or draw, it is great to see parents come out and support their kids.”

Vinemont wrestling will be available to students in grades seven through 12 starting in the 2024-2025 academic year. For future updates on Vinemont wrestling and other announcements, follow the Vinemont High School Facebook page.

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