April 14th, 2017

Now that the Nationals are over and I find myself planning my trip to Sardenia Italy to coach at the Roger Milone tournament, I realize that the sport of wrestling has afforded me many opportunities to travel.  Travel can be one the most rewarding parts of an athlete’s career.  The preparation and the competition are always the primary focus but when it’s done, it’s always nice to take a look around and absorb some of the local culture.  Sports may afford people the ability to travel that they might not have otherwise.  Even if you travel to some lesser known locations in Canada like Prince Albert Saskatchewan or Edmunston New Brunswick, the insight that you get from how other people live in our country is an experience that can have benefits to our own personal growth.  So going to another country also holds true if not more.

GB Cup 2010

Through the sport of wrestling I had already seen more of Canada by the age of sixteen then many would in their lifetime.  If you factor in the size of our country and the cost of flying to some of the more obscure locations, then it’s not hard to see why.  A coach from Saskatoon that I was speaking to commented that it would cost every club less money to fly our athletes out to Las Vegas for the Cadet-Juvenile Nationals than to hold it in either New Brunswick or British Columbia.

Kuujjuaq Wrestling Clinic 2013

Travelling is one thing, but travelling with your teammates is something entirely different.  Some of the best memories that I have is going on tournaments with my teammates.  While for some people, it can be mentally draining, for others the change in scenery is a welcome change. Also when travellling, bonds are formed with your teammates as you share a room and the competitive experience.  In some ways, you have find ways to get along with someone in difficult times.  This isue to the fact that the competition has to be your primary focus and that has to take precedence than dealling with someone’s ideosynchracies.  When your career is over, overcoming some of the minor challenges can be the best memories that you can retain from your time as an athlete.

Israel Wrestling Trip 2013

Through wrestling, I have been able to travel to Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the United States, South America, the Carribean, the Middle-East and and of course across Canada.  Everytime I leave Montreal for a tournament, I get that mix of excitement and anticipation, even if it’s to a place that I’ve already been.


Copa Sparta 2012: Olympic Silver Medalist Jamie Espinal

For some, the act of travelling is a tedious one.  An ends to a mean if you will.  When factoring that when you travel, you often exit your comfort zone, then it’s not hard to see why many people don’t like to travel.  Athletes are creatures of habit and our routine is a big part of our discipline.  Travelling to competitions represents a disruption in that routine.  The ability to adapt to that disruption is just one of the things that seperates good athletes from great athletes.  It was said that legendary American wrestler Dan Gable used to wake up at odd hours in the night before international tournaments and run for hours.  When asked why he would wake up at 3:30 in the morning to run, his answer was that he was “preparing to wrestle in different time zones”.  Acclimatization is an important part in preparing for a competition and Gable was one of the first to pioneer this.

Spanish Junior Cup 2007: The Montreal YMHA

My advice to athletes who are entering that stage in their careers when they move from recreational athlete to high-performance athlete is to cherish the opportunity to travel.  As life takes over and responsibilites catch up, the opportunity to do so decreases dramtically.  You miss that camraderie and bonds that are formed during these trips and only start to realize this after you retire from sports.   In short, try to enjoy and make the best of every trip, whether it’s to Halifax Nova Scotia or Beijing China.