PROFILE PHOTO COURTESY OF KIMBERELY KUFAAS PHOTOGRAPHY Sports Talk with Tyson is a column exclusively here at the North Island Gazette that covers all things sports related in the North Island. Have some thoughts about Sports Talk with Tyson? Email a letter to and we will publish it online and in print.

Sports Talk with Tyson: Coaching high school wrestling has been very rewarding

Thanks goes to Mike Cleary for volunteering to teacher sponsor the wrestling program.

And I’m back in the saddle again.

Hello and welcome to Sports Talk with Tyson, the column that discusses all things sports related in the true North Island. I’ve taken a bit of a break from writing this column, but that’s mainly because I’ve been quite busy lately covering minor hockey.

Due to the North Island Gazette having an early Friday press deadline this week, there won’t be any weekend sports coverage in this paper, so what better time than now to recap how the 2019-2020 wrestling season at Port Hardy Secondary School has gone so far.

Thanks to Mike Cleary volunteering his time to be the teacher sponsor for the program, the wrestling mats at the school have been dusted off and are being used again. Wrestling season starts in October and ends around March, which means it runs at the exact same time as hockey.

This has caused issues with getting teenagers to come out and train, but on average, I usually have anywhere from two to five students showing up to practice at 5:00 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday (sometimes we sneak in an optional Friday practice), and I have to say it’s been a really great experience for me as a coach.

In fact, if I had more than six students show up, I would definitely need an assistant coach to come in and help me out.

The students are learning the rules of folkstyle wrestling, training a lot of techniques while getting in better shape, and really just becoming more and more dedicated to the sport and how to be responsible for their own successes and failures. One of my students (Grant) is definitely a prospect and could do some real damage if he went down island to compete in his natural weight class.

Asides from the teaching and learning aspect, my favourite part of the season so far has definitely been getting to referee a few “gym wars” where the students went to battle in a full six minute match.

For example, Dawson vs. Sam was easily one of the best matches that went down this season.

This was a highly anticipated showdown, and we actually had a little crowd on the edge of the wrestling mats watching to see who would come out on top as the toughest wrestler in school (Dawson and Sam are both ridiculously strong with very good technique).

As soon as the timer started for the first period, it ended up being a fast paced brawl with both guys looking for takedowns and scoring points off numerous scrambles and reversal of positions.

The second period featured more of the same, and the scoreboard actually ended up tied going into the third, and that’s when Sam dug down deep and exploded right into the big pinfall victory.

While Dawson did have a nagging injury going into the match, he made no excuses and I was very proud of how hard he fought to try and win the match.

Another great match this season featured Maven pulling off a stunning come from behind victory over “T” with a third period pinfall after being down roughly 10-2 on the scoreboard.

Maven for whatever reason just doesn’t get tired. If he manages to drag you into deep water in the third period, he’s going to be hunting for the pin while you’re gasping for air.

Anyways, enough stories. All told, it’s been a pretty fun season. While we did have some hiccups due to issues with the scheduling of the gymnasium and not being organized enough to make it to any tournaments down island, it’s still been an awesome time and I hope to return for the start of another season next October!

Also, with hockey season coming to an end in March, I’d really like to see some more hockey players come out and give the sport a try.

Who knows, maybe one day NISS will buy some mats and then we can have a dual meet.

Tyson Whitney is an award-winning journalist who was born and raised in Port Hardy. His family has lived in Port Hardy for more than 40 years. He graduated with a degree in writing from Vancouver Island University in 2008. Email:


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