Thursday March 9th, 2023
With the GMAA/RSEQ Championships wrapped up an the Provincials done as well, I felt that this would be a great time to sort of take note at the status of wrestling in the province and it means for the future.
Now, to be clear, I can’t predict the future. Otherwise, that winning lottery ticket would have been purchased a long time ago and I could have been able to do some things that I’ve been meaning to do for a while. So what this is going to be is just sort of my best guess scenario for what’s to come based on what I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks.
The GMAA/RSEQ Championships has long been a good indicator of wrestling at the youth level in the province. While many clubs around the island have healthy and viable kids programs, the league tends to show the highest percentage of wrestlers that will progress on to higher levels. Retention of the total amount of athletes that wiIl progress is still quite low, percentage-wise. If we look at retention rate over the last thirty years or so, a lot of our high school wrestlers will end their respective careers after they graduate.
In recent years, the GMAA/RSEQ league has seen the return of schools such as Howard S. Billings, Massey Vanier, Royal West Academy and Westwood High School
With that being said, progression to Sport-Études from high school is proportionately low from the total amount of participants in the GMAA. The athletes that do move on to high performance tend be the ones that had the most success earlier on, and were recruited by the various clubs at an early age or ones that started off at young age. Then, if there’s a will to go further, they may express a desire to go to the Sport-Études program at Vanier. Sport-Études by no means is the only way in which we see progression to the higher levels as recruitment is also a viable option.
The problem with recruitment is that it has become a contentious subject as in recent years in some areas of the province and country, recruitment has been sometimes seen as poaching athletes from other clubs. Viable recruitment happens when there’s an established relationship with the program in which athletes will be recruited from. This is important since if the athletes in question are young, then it’s almost unethical to speak to them directly. Communication should be relayed through either the coaches or the parents, with the decision being ultimately made by the athlete themselves. However, this is a subject for another blog.
The problem with retention is that we’ve also seen some programs end in recent years
The reason why I point this out leads me to my second observation after the completion of the Quebec Provincials. This provincials had some of the largest participation in a Provincial Championships that had not been seen for quite a long time as over two hundred participants took part in the tournament. What was most encouraging was that many of them came from the younger age groups. This was in full effect since clubs such as Riverdale had many kids competing at the tournament.
Competitions like the Festival des Patriotes sees a lot of young wrestlers come to compete
Now, if nearly all of them chose to attend a high school that has wrestling as part of its curriculum or have teams in the GMAA/RSEQ, then in a couple of years, we could expect a huge influx of new wrestlers to the fold. Recruitment may play a huge role in this, provided it’s done in an ethical manner. This in turn, could lead to many more wrestlers competing at the various high schools around the island which may lead to more athletes moving on to Sport-Etudes and then to High-Performance. Sadly, this probably won’t be the case but one can always hope.
So what does this mean for the future of wrestling in Quebec? Tentatively, the future is bright. If retention remains high, then we can hopefully see higher participation in the GMAAs and stronger Quebec teams at the Canada Games. Also, if we’re seeing a mini-renaissance of the sport, then it’s an exciting time to be a coach in the province of Quebec. So in conclusion, the future seems bright.