GREENVILLE — Greenville all-state wrestler Jordan Thomas isn’t even gone yet and he is already giving back to area wrestlers.
Thomas, who will wrestle for the University of Michigan this year, is hosting his first wrestling camp this week at Greenville High School. The camp, which began on Monday and is free, will continue today and tomorrow.
Unfortunately, Thomas injured his left foot and was unable to participate in drills. Over the course of the camp, Thomas’ friends and family will help run the camp on the mat.
“When the season ended this year some of the My Way program members asked if I would be interested in running a camp for Greenville,” Thomas said. “I said I would love to. It’s a free camp and we want to get as many kids out here as possible.
“I was excited to run it, but it is unfortunate that I’m injured. We have some good guys to come in and help,” he added.
On Monday, Corey Davis (a cousin of Thomas) was on the mat working with the campers. Greenville graduate Luke Gilmore was there helping, as well.
“Corey helped me a lot. It’s nice he is able to teach some of the younger guys,” Thomas said. “He wrestled first as a sophomore in high school. He went into the Air Force and ended up training for seven years at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He lost in a quarterfinals and was just two matches away from making the Olympics.”
The camp is split into two sessions. Sixth through 12th grade wrestlers take part from 10 a.m. until noon and kindergarten through fifth grade from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
“We have a really solid team next year for high school and middle school,” Thomas said. “This is about basic techniques like their stance, hand fighting and shots. If they can improve on all of those things that’s what makes a really good team.”
Thomas said Greenville coach Paul Johnson is really good at teaching the basics and it has been a key to Greenville’s wrestling success.
“That’s what coach Johnson is good at. He teaches the basics and puts together a really solid unit,” Thomas said. “It’s not just great individuals, but a team. The basic technique is where it all starts.”
About 20 to 30 wrestlers took part in the morning session including sixth grader Matt Jeffrey. Jeffrey will be a middle schooler this fall and said he enjoyed the camp.
“I’m having fun. I want to learn better skills so I can be a better wrestler,” Jeffrey said. “I’ve been wrestling for six years and I like everything about it.”
For the youth program, Thomas said the focus is on learning the sport.
“When I started, when I was little, my dad did it the right way and didn’t push me hard at all,” he said. “This is about getting familiar with the mat and familiar with the rules. We are trying to give them a taste of wrestling.
“They will wrestle some, play some games and have fun to get that taste of wrestling,” he added.
Thomas didn’t know what to expect for turnout, but was happy with the initial number of wrestlers.
“Kids have football right now and vacations,” he said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of advertising for us, so this has been a pretty good turnout. Everyone here is from Greenville and it is really good for our program.”
The camp is something Thomas plans of hosting every year.
“It’s only three days long and I will be able to take three days off in the summer for a long time,” he said.