Sunday, September 22, 2013

Stacie Anaka's (and Wrestling's) Silver Lining Playbook

Hi for those still checking.
Just woke up at home early here in Calgary and wanted to post one last time.
Following the final session at the Worlds there was not time to post. We went straight from the finals to Carol Huynh's induction into the Fila hall of fame which was a fanatsic night.
After a night of celebrating we left first thing in the morning and took three flights home.

The last day of the tournament was a very solid one for our girls! Stacie Anaka started the day by defeating World number one wrestler from Mongolia in come from behind fashion in the dying seconds of the match, then proceeded to do the exact same thing in the semi finals against China. Scoring an tough offensive single leg to steal back the victory and a spot in the world finals. Erica Wiebe also found herself in some tough battles including a match where she was losing to the defending World champion at the midway point of the second round yet stayed focussed and tough and took the victory. 
Some great battles from both girls!

My quote for the media after the finals on day three was “It has been a very emotional and challenging tournament again this year. Our team prepared very well all year, but alas we caught some really tough breaks in the first two days against athletes we know we can beat,” said Leigh Vierling, Head Coach of the Women’s Canadian National Team. “It is nice to have such a solid day today to end the tournament... Stacie Anaka’s performance showed incredible heart, I am so proud of her for so many reasons. Two of our athletes rose to the podium here. But we have served notice that we have a new generation of wrestlers ready to challenge to be the best. I am excited for the future.”

I am very proud of the team. Those who reached their personal goals and those who fell short. As an example Stacie made the most out of a difficult situation in Budapest. After winning the Nationals this season she faced a set of wrestle off's against Dori Yeats. At the wrestle off Stacie was defeated and lost her Senior World Team spot, with great dissapointent. Stacie was set to go to the Francophone games to compete for Canada in Nice France when  she got the call from me asking if she would indeed compete at the Senior Worlds for Canada in Budapest. She was very emotional at the time and with only a few weeks left to the competition we set in motion a last minute preparation plan that included her staying with her Francophone team mates through the event in Nice and then having Tonya Verbeek travelling with Anaka to Paris after the event to oversee her final week of training there. I knew Stacie was capable of such a performance given the summer I had already witnessed with her (a bronze at the Fisu Games, and gold medals in Germany and Panama City) showed she would be tough to beat in Budapest. 

In the end those who know Stacie will tell you what a grounded great person she is! It is great to see her get this medal, and I only wish all of the other amazing individuals on our team had the same experience. The next month will be filled with evaluations, planning, and hopefully a chance to enjoy a little break from the stress of competition preparation. It is crucial that we as a group are honest and find the areas we need to improve (we were pinned four times at these Worlds and that is a definite red flag for me). We need to create a clear path to improvement from here. We are going to use video analysis to analyze and show our athletes the mistakes we made, but also how others made good adjustments against those same opponents. We need to address some of our weaknesses and address them in training situations. We are talking about holding some technical focussed camps (not focussed on competitive scrimmage) but in improving these areas.  I AM very happy in general with the physical preparedness of our athletes on the mat with the new rules. We have demonstrated that if a match is long and hard we can find a way to rise to the top in the end. This has been seen all summer, and not just at the Worlds. Our athletes commitment to hard work on and off of the mat has and will continue to play a major role in the future success we will have! 

I know the athletes in Budapest (and many of our athletes who are on our B team, U24 Teams, Junior Teams) all faced challenges in the 2013 season. Some of these were physical challenges like injuries that really hampered our ability to train at full capacity all the time. Others were mental and emotional challenges imposed on us by ourselves, others and even circumstances as they arose. As a program we need to embrace and learn from everyone of these learning opportunities. 

As a sport Wrestling fought for its life in 2013, and found a way to come back stronger! WE ALL can be better in 2014! We have to use the challenges of this past year and find the Silver Lining for the future!

Thank you to all my/our COACHES, parents, and others working in our program. Congrats again to the Men's program for the strides and efforts I see happening there. I also want to thank many of the unsung heroes in our sport. The CAWA office staff and volunteers on the executive and other committees. Your work is very appreciated. Especially our Executive Director Tamara Medwidsky, she works tirelessly, with me and others, and is a tremendous person. We will improve as an organization in 2014, and we will need to pull together, if want to give our wonderful teams the best chance for excellence on and off of the mats in the future!  

Wrestling Canada is Great!
Thanks for listening,

Coach V

1 comment: