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February 2, 2014

Building a winner

Lockport Wrestling Kids Club laid foundation for successful program

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — To build something sturdy and solid, a good foundation is needed. The Lockport High School wrestling program may have that in the Lockport Kids Wrestling Club.

The club introduces youths ages 5 to 12 to the sport of wrestling. While in the program, kids learn how to train and compete as wrestlers, and also how to be a part of a team. The goal is to teach them how hard work and perseverance can help them become successful in life as well as wrestling.

A kids club has existed since the 1980s, but the group as it is now known as came together in 2003, starting off in the North Park auxiliary gym with 15 kids. Shawn Murray, an Emmet Belknap assistant principal and a coach with the varsity team, said the aim was to create a successful program from the kids club straight through to the varsity team.

“It’s completely run by volunteers,” Murray said. “When we started, it was just families.”

Murray was a wrestler during his school years in Lancaster. The sport had a profound impact on his life, he said, and he still keeps in close contact with some of his friends from those days.

“We wanted (Lockport youths) to have that bond,” Murray said. “it’s a tough sport, they’re there for their buddies. It makes it easier.”

The club was started by the Kapuscinki and Orefice families, along with Murray and current Lockport school board member Kevin Pratt. The kids club volunteers work side-by-side with the city school district.

Sandy Orefice said her son, Anthony, a junior, has been wrestling since he was 6 years old. Starting at the YMCA, Anthony joined the Lockport Kids Wrestling Club shortly thereafter. He was a varsity wrestler by seventh grade.

The experience that Anthony and others gained by starting with the kids club was vital.

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