Monday December 31st 2018

Another year has passed and with it, many things have have transpired for us as a province and for myself personally.  In terms of results, Quebec had a banner year.  We had a club win best Senior team amongst the Women at the Senior Nationals with the Junior-Senior National Championships themselves made a return to Quebec for the first time in over twenty years.  We also had some medalists at the U17-U19 National Championships as well as some international medals in the various age groups at various international tournaments.  On a casual note, there was a beach wrestling event held for the first time in our province which shows some modest growth and variety.  Moving on to our university athletes, who shone both at the U-Sport Nationals and at the FISU World Championships.  Last but not least, we had the top finishers amongst the Men at the Junior and U23 World Championships to cap it all off.

Members of the Montreal YMHA watch Alex Moore’s match live as he goes for Bronze at the U23 World Championships

For myself, this has been a year of highs and lows.  On a high note, I was accepeted to the Advance Diploma of Coaching which was an accomplishment. However, I was unable to do it based on the constraints of the timetable that they had to complete courses which was in conflict of course with my job.  My schedule at the high school I work at tumbles which couldn’t allow me the time off to complete the program as it would affect the classes I teach.  I had some athletes grow in the sport and some of whom I spent a lot of time with, quit on me which was painful.  In my personal and professional life, I battled some unseen troubles, all the while trying to make it through my daily grind and project an image of stability.  This was probably the hardest part as every day seemed like a struggle.  Like a wrestling match though, I had to be at my best regardless of how I felt.

The website has grown in the last year, with many more people sending me positive feedback as our viewership continues to expand in our small wrestling community and across the country.  My blog has been an outlet of creativity, allowing me a forum to express myself and to give my opinions on the sport in which I’m passionate about.

Tony Ronci leads the warmup at Quebec’s first ever beach wrestling event

So now what?  What will the calendar year of 2019 bring to our sport in this province and to myself personally?  The one thing that I feel that needs to be adressed is the shakeup at Wrestling Canada Lutte which was a big one.  For those who don’t know, an independant investigation of Wrestling Canada Lutte revealed many reports of impropriety and borderline abuse in some areas for many years.  This shed some light on some less than savoury practices going on with the upper management of our sport at the National Governing body as well as with some well established coaches.  Favourtism and turning a blind eye to some grave issues such as athlete safety, were just some of the issues that were mentioned as well as transparency and independant assessment being a key issue in many areas.

With all that being said, several things have to be adressed.  First of all with the shakeup, will things actually change?  Like many other issues unrelated to wrestling, the spotlight on controversy elicits change, but only so much as people care or are aware about it.  When people stop to care or notice, will the momentum for change stop as well?  Worst, will they actually go back to the state it was originally in before the investigation?  Secondly, if it has been determined that favourtism has been a factor in many key decisions, will this affect the selection of coaches for various teams as every decision will now be scrutinized under a microscope?  Will this mean more opportunities for different coaches to participate at the international level?  I have spoken to some well established coaches throughout the years who have had athletes make various international teams at different age groups. Some of these coaches even had multiple athletes on on the same team and yet were shut out of coaching opportunities at the international level.  It gives us the impression that the upper levels of international coaching are sort of “Old Boys” club which restricts its access to individuals that they feel only fall into their secretive criteria.

It would be nice to not only see some more transparency in the coaching selection process but to also have maybe an apprenticeship approach for some coaches who have not had the opportunity to coach at these international events and give them the chance to go.  This might in turn encourage coaches to continue on with their certification and give them opportunities instead of the practice of what seems to be the throwing up of barriers every step of the way.  Though it was not specifically mentionned, the selection of coaches has been an issue for years and hopefully this process will change and be more open.

Will coaches get more opportunities to participate at international tournaments?

As for wrestling in our province, the competitions will begin again in January.  Clubs at all levels will start to send their athletes to compete and hopefully hit the ground running.  Our high school teams will be that much closer to the league championships and the Junior-Senior Nationals will be upon us before we know it.  My hopes for the New Year is to strive to move forward, both in my personal life and in my coaching career.  I hope to get many more opportunities to coach internationally and maybe one day coach at the World Championships.  Last but not least, I would like to thank everyone who has read the blog and given me feedback, for their continuous support.  Best of luck to your clubs and athletes in the New Year.