Little Hammers host wrestling camp

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - The Little Hammers Wrestling Club hosted a wrestling camp on Saturday afternoon at their new home.

The Little Hammers Wrestling Club is the only wrestling club in North Platte to wrestle all year (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)

The Little Hammers are the only wrestling club in North Platte to wrestle all year, and owner and coach Craig Kelley believes the work the kids put in now will help them come wrestling season.

"Summer work makes winter champions," Kelley said.

However, these camps are not limited to Little Hammers wrestlers; in fact, Kelley encourages all area wrestlers to participate.

"We want all the area kids here, we want to make them better, because when we go out and wrestle them, and they're back with their regular club, they're going to make us better, and then we're not just growing Little Hammers Wrestling, we're growing Nebraska wrestling, we're growing Western Nebraska wrestling," Kelley said.

On Saturday, the club was focused on tilts, which are used to score back points.

"We're really emphasizing on scoring a lot of points. I've been at tournaments all across the country, and seen first-hand how good a tilt can be for kids' wrestling, and that's the purpose of this camp, to work on as many tilts as we can, and to drill that enough times so they feel comfortable getting in the flow of what makes a good tilt work," Kelley said.

Aaron Pishna is a ten-year-old wrestler who attended the camp. When asked what he likes about wrestling, he said, "That you can take a challenge. If it's challenging for you, it's good for you."

Pishna said the importance of the camp is, "So we can be a better team, and it helps you help your partner get better."

In the six hour session, Kelley hopes to work with the kids to start internalizing the things they learn, so they can perform better in matches.

"When you're in a match, you don't have the luxury of redos. You have to get it right in the heat of the battle. In the heat of the battle, your mind gets in the way, so we teach them how to get their mind out of the way, to where you do it enough times, you have some muscles memory, and hopefully they'll be successful when the time comes to do it," Kelley said, We have a good saying in our club, we don't practice a move to where we can do it right, we practice a move until we can't do it wrong.”
Six-year-old Dusty Nation has been wrestling for two years. Nation finished in first at state last season, and realizes the importance of participating at wrestling camps.

"If you go to all kinds of camps, you'll get better at wrestling. We've been wrestling for a lot of time, and I remember lots of things that our coaches taught us at these three wrestling camps, and at my practices," Nation said.

Kelley wants the kids to enjoy wrestling, and want to continue coming back to the camps.

"We want the sport fun, that's why we try to keep our practices fun. We play games, we have our workout area, and during their breaks they have a lot of fun. A lot of kids really enjoy the camp, they don't realize they're here six hours doing technique," Kelley said.

The Little Hammers will host a camp every Saturday until the end of August, and will focus on different strategies at each camp. Camps are available to the public, but spaces are limited. Information about the camps can be found on the Little Hammers Facebook page.