MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The “world’s oldest sport” has returned to the Combat Center and is looking for more members of all experience levels to represent the base.
The wrestling team, sponsored by Marine Corps Community Services Sports, is back after a year’s hiatus and began practicing last month.
Currently 24 Marines strong, the team is looking to grow significantly in coming weeks, said Stephen Campbell, head coach.
“This is open to any Marine aboard the Combat Center,” said Campbell, 31, who has wrestled since the age of 5. “We have all different levels of experience with us and welcome everyone. We have guys who have never wrestled a day in their life to guys who have wrestled on a team for 15 years. One Marine actually wrestled on the All-Marine team not long ago.”
Campbell said he plans to maintain the team year-round, as well as enter Marines in upcoming tournaments.
“We will compete in California and will shoot for some post-season tournaments to get in to,” said the Coral Springs, Fla., native.
For anyone who might be interested in joining, it’s as easy as showing up to a practice.
“We practice Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 6 a.m. at the Tank Battalion classroom, building 1710,” said Campbell. “Just show up. I’ll get you in shape, I promise. [You] just need to be there in PT gear and be ready to work hard.”
Most Marines already have the skills required to become a wrestler, even if they don’t realize it, said Jordan James, assistant head coach and wrestler for more than 8 years.
“To be successful as a wrestler, you need to be both mentally and physically tough,” said James, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native. “You have to have discipline and stick to a training schedule, make it to practice, and if you just go through the motions, you won’t be good at it.”
Marines pride themselves on being physically fit and few sports out there are more physically challenging than wrestling, said Campbell.
“Something wrestling gives you that most sports don’t is true mental toughness,” Campbell said. “Wresting makes you tough because it’s just you and your opponent out there on the mat. You can only rely on yourself.
“It is an individual sport with a team concept,” Campbell continued. “You can’t get any better without a team, but once you get out there, you’re on your own.”