The Juneau Youth Wrestling Club’s building is finally open and ready for wrestlers to hit its new mats after years of construction.
Over Labor Day weekend the new blue building hosted its first clinic since opening its doors, inviting two-time USA Wrestling world team member Tony Purler who traveled to Juneau from Kansas City, Missouri, just for the event.
For Thunder Mountain High School junior wrestlers Hayden Aube and Justus Darbonne, the new building means more opportunities to practice the sport they love.
“It’s nice not having to rent places out, like at the school, we have to compete for openings, so just having our own building is awesome,” Aube said.
“It definitely gives us a lot of opportunity to wrestle and have more time, usually we have to compete with other sports just to wrestle,” Darbonne said. “But this is our own place to practice wherever we need to. It’s definitely a better spot.”
According to JYWC coach and board member Jason Hass, high school and middle school wrestlers from all over Southeast Alaska traveled to partake in the clinic. In total, 58 wrestlers registered, many coming from here in Juneau.
Hass said a major force that pushed the building from just an idea into a reality was the increasingly sparse amount of gym time that many young athletes have had to deal with in recent years. He said he thinks that has hindered many athletes from trying out the sport.
“It’s always a struggle for gym time — with the other sports there are just a lot of people, a lot of activities and a finite amount of space — so it’s been hard to try to get gym space,” he said. “It’s been a long-time dream to have our own space and it’s going to be great having this designated space for wrestling.”
Hass said the club wanted to create a large space dedicated not only to increasing space and time for existing wrestlers to practice the sport, but inviting new athletes into the community as well. Now that the building is ready for use, he’s excited and hopeful the Juneau wrestling community will be able to flourish.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to offer this up to more and more kids in Juneau — we want to be able to expose wrestling to every boy and girl in Juneau,” he said. “You come in here and you see 60 kids running around having a good time, getting exercise, just a good healthy environment — it’s incredibly encouraging.”
Purler, who led the three-day clinic, said he’s enjoyed spending the weekend teaching the young wrestlers and visiting Alaska for the first time.
“We’ve had fun,” he said about his time spent exploring Juneau with his wife and son. “It’s nice here, and the kids, they have a strong work ethic.”
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or (651) 528-1807.