Going into his first year as head wrestling coach in 2020, one of Chris Pendleton’s main goals was to revamp the regional training facility at Oregon State University.
The first all-girls wrestling camp run entirely by world-class female wrestlers is trying to help achieve that goal, which began earlier today.
According to Pendleton, Dam RTC and RTCs across the country aim to find promising athletes and help them hone their skills to become the best version of themselves possible.
“Regional Training Centers provide opportunities for male and female athletes at all levels to train for their Olympic aspirations,” Pendleton said. “We have everyone from high school kids to college wrestlers to people who have been out of college for years and are chasing their Olympic dreams, and this is an opportunity for them to train with coaches and top athletes.”
Although Dam RTC is a separate entity from OSU, the two are intrinsically linked through personnel and work together to provide these opportunities for athletes. The Gill Coliseum Wrestling Gym is leased by the RTC and serves as the main hub for training and camps like the one held August 13-14.
Despite Pendleton’s accolades as head wrestling coach, he felt that showcasing the talent of the female athletes at Dam RTC was the best bet for hosting an all-girls camp.
“I believe it’s time to empower women athletes and let them lead the ship,” Pendleton said. “I just feel like when you have young women who can see their older role models in positions of power, leading it, crossing it; it’s just a little bit different from a dynamic than if I or one of the other coaches were involved.
Skylar Grote, Alexandria Glaudé, Mallory Velte and Alyssa Lampe make up the formation of star wrestlers at the head of the camp, all of whom have experience in major national and world competitions.
Grote, who is the winner of the 2022 US Open and Pan American Championships, got involved with Dam RTC after coach Nate Engel reached out to her in response to her tweet expressing her wish for more opportunities. for women at the RTC.
“He said the DAM RTC wants to have more women and we want to support women in sport,” Grote said. “So I visited last December and loved it, and that’s how I’m here.”
Grote started wrestling at the age of eight, which is the minimum age to be able to participate in the camp. Growing up as one of seven female high school-age wrestlers in her home state of New Jersey and having limited options for women in the sport, Grote said she wished she had been on a similar camp when she was younger. .
“I haven’t really had the opportunity to be around women my age doing the same thing as me, so I think it would have been great to just be around people who were like me. I think ‘It’s important to see people like you who are going through similar struggles and situations,’ Grote said.
While 2021 Pan American Champion Alexandria Glaudé took a different path to becoming an elite wrestler, having started her journey with the sport in high school, she was also inspired to join Dam RTC due to the organization’s support of the women in sport. She thinks this weekend’s camp is a great way to empower up-and-coming female wrestlers.
“I think any opportunity that I have or that presents itself to give back to the sport is definitely one that I want to be a part of, and I know when I started out in wrestling it was pretty hard to go to a wrestling camp that had a lot of women,” Glaudé said. “So I think it’s very special to be part of a female-led camp and to allow these young girls to see what’s possible for them.”
As for camp content, attendees can expect a mix of exercise and athletic ideas during their two-day stay.
“We’re going to go over some throws, we’re going to go over some freestyle moves, especially the switchbacks and the gut wrenches,” Grote said. “Besides the wrestling part, we’re also going to talk about topics that are important to women in sport and only to athletes in sport in general, like body image, mental preparation, motivation, topics like that.”
Like Grote, Glaudé hopes the camp will have an impact beyond just giving attendees a good workout.
“I think they can expect to have a lot of fun to begin with,” Glaudé said. “I think we’ll also give them a lot of advice on mindset and things to focus on to help them improve their game, and I also think a chance for them to make friends and meet new people. other girls in the sport and hopefully feeling empowered and eager to get better at wrestling.