The LEAP Student Blog
Isaac Santos | South Kitsap High School
One sport that has always appealed to the rambunctious side of me is wrestling. I joined our local club program in first grade and never looked back. Last year, I had the privilege of wrestling for the South Kitsap Wolves. The South wrestling program is held in high regards by our community and seems to be a force to reckon with year after year. The strong sense of tradition, backing our program, has always attracted outstanding coaching staffs and the current coaches are no exception. Three of the five coaches are SK alumni themselves; two of them were State Champions for the Wolves. I think it says a lot about a program when former students return to coach on the same field, court, or mat room where they were once an athlete.
South Kitsap Wrestling: Embracing My Inner Wolf
With over 2000 students flooding the halls of South Kitsap High School every day, it is apparent that there is no shortage of students. South Kitsap is a community within a community and opportunities are abundant. The diversity of students has led to a variety of clubs and sports teams never without a full roster. Over the years, South has fostered many excellent teams from baseball, to knowledge bowl, and to football. There have been times when these programs had ups and downs. However, one program seems to stand apart.
A major tradition in the South wrestling program is “H*** Week,” a term coined by wrestlers themselves, whom have had the pleasure of enduring it.
The first week of practice every year is a mental test; the coaches want to see who has “it” in them. These practices are three hours long and include an hour of non-stop conditioning and not just running either. Some of my favorites were the Swedish mile while bear crawling or with a person on your back. If we were all in great shape it would not be too bad. However, this is hardly the case and my coach has ensured me that “this year will be easier.” I hope so!
The Monday before Christmas, every year, the coaches provide the team with an early present. We all see the coaches in their offices wearing black shirts. The upper classmen sigh and inform us that today is “Black Monday.” The coaches would not want us to gain too much weight over Christmas, so they compensate with a practice of long, intense conditioning. After the normal warm-up jog and stretching, the coaches bark out “six lines,” and “Black Monday” has begun. Soon after, sweat is dripping down the walls and guys are hovering over the trash can. The coaches at South Kitsap might not seem like the nicest group of guys, but everything they do is for our sake in order to prepare us for a match that goes into overtime and the other guy is gasping for air. But not us!
An annual campout also takes place every summer at the lake-side property of one of our coaches. It is a chance for inner tubing, kayaking, swimming, and most importantly team bonding. In maintaining all of these traditions, as well as committing much of their winter to the team, the coaches have ensured that the program remains successful and the work has paid off.
The hard work is evident in the success of the program. Starting in December of 1992, the wrestling Wolves began a Narrows League Dual Match winning streak. It lasted until January of 2013, when the Wolves traveled to Yelm and were defeated. In that span, South Kitsap Wrestling team won 190 in-league dual matches without a loss. South Kitsap High School is also one of the only high schools in Washington that can boast about two NCAA Division 1 All-American wrestlers who started as. These statistics are a true testament to the talent, but more importantly work ethic of the wrestlers who have been a part of the program.
Last year, Yelm came to our gym, which was packed full with fans from both sides to watch the epic rematch. The Wolves came up with a few upsets; some clutch wins, and defeated Yelm 36-28 to clinch the Narrows League title. The wrestling program is only one of the many outstanding opportunities offered to students at South Kitsap High School, and I feel privileged to call myself a Wolf.
To quote Rudyard Kipling, “The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”