Evart wrestling club coach anxious to get season going


EVART — Ryan Hopkins has been given the challenge of leading the new Evart wrestling club for the middle school and high school levels.

He can’t wait to get started.

Hopkins will be coaching the club, which was recently approved by the Evart school board. Hopkins and other club supporters are hoping to eventually wrestle on the interscholastic level and in MHSAA tournament action.

Hopkins was at the recent Pine River wresting camp, which included Michigan State wrestlers. He had one high school and two youth program wrestlers with him at Pine River.

Funding has been secured to get the program going.

“We’re hoping to see how many kids we can get to come out being that nobody has wrestled in high school,” Hopkins said. “Our youth program looks very strong. We’ve got some good upcoming wrestlers. It’s a matter of getting some in the high school interested, and that kind of stuff, and press on forward.”

Hopkins has been helping out with his son in the youth program.

“I’ve helped coach in Big Rapids for about seven years,” Hopkins said. “We live in Evart but that’s where I’ve had my son wrestling. I started him before they had the youth program going here.”

Hopkins also helps coach softball and basketball with the youth in Evart, and also youth football in the fall.

Hopkins and others are hopeful the program can eventually be more than just a club.

“We’re hoping the board will accept us into the school so we can compete in the MHSAA,” Hopkins said. “We wrote a grant into Dick’s Sporting Goods and we had to come up with matching funds. We exceeded our goal by over $2,000. Now we can get all our own equipment. It’s a matter of getting kids on the mat.”

He’s looking for between 13 to 20 wrestlers for the high school level.

“I’ll probably have to go work on a few kids,” Hopkins said. “We had a real quick meeting and had 13 kids sign up. I’ve had more kids approach me that are very interested.”

The meeting was just before school let out in June.

“(Athletic director) Randy Kruse has been working on the schedule and I know he’s contacted Pine River and some other schools,” Hopkins said. “We have to see where we can squeeze in some mat time. Usually schools are pretty open to bringing more teams in to wrestle.”

Zach Parshall, who ran track for Evart last spring, was at a recent Pine River wrestling camp. He’s planning on participating in the Wildcats’ wrestling squad.

“I think it’s awesome,” he said. “I think it’s something we really need. This is actually my first day ever on a mat. I like any type of martial arts or sports like this. I think they’re intriguing.”

He’ll be a junior for the 2014-15 season.  

“We’re very excited and can’t wait for the upcoming season,” Hopkins said. “We’re going to practice in the cafeteria at the middle school or high school, wherever we can get some floor space. We’re not picky.”