Wrestling ‘round the world: THS coach heads across globe for championships

Thompson head wrestling coach Shawn Weltzin, left, recently traveled with USA Wrestling to Uzbekistan for the 2014 World Championship. (Contributed)

Thompson head wrestling coach Shawn Weltzin, left, recently traveled with USA Wrestling to Uzbekistan for the 2014 World Championship. (Contributed)

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor

ALABASTER — Since taking on the role of head wrestling coach at Thompson High, Shawn Weltzin has gone to great lengths to try make the program one of the best in the country.

Including going to other countries to learn more about the sport.

Weltzin recently traveled abroad as a part of the USA Wrestling’s National Coaches Education Program for the 2014 World Championship, held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan Sept. 8-16.

Weltzin said the opportunity came about after his former college wrestling coach suggested he take part in the program, in hopes of earning a gold certification in coaching.

“It was the best coaching decision I have made thus far,” he said. “To see how (world teams) do things is such an experience.”
Weltzin’s role with the program was to scout for Team USA.

“The biggest thing we did is scout opposing wrestlers (the team) had in the next round,” he said. “To see certain tendencies, the details. “

Welztin said the experience opened his eyes to how several international programs work, as well as different strategies that can be used with the Warriors.

“I got to talk with several different coaches with a translator,” he said. “I just talked to the Japanese coaching staff for their national team and intern training in different aspects of it got to talk to the coach from Switzerland and Russia and several different countries.  I filled up my phone, my iPad and like four different devices video so it’s got a lot of technique stuff.”

In addition to what he learned about the sport of wrestling, Weltzin said he gained an appreciation for the Uzbekistani culture, as well as his own.

“I wish everyone could experience that,” he said. It would make everyone grateful. The water…is not even clean to those who live there. The poverty that they have, their outlook on everything. Just being from America, you take things so much for granted that you have, and just the ability to go to the water faucet and drink out of it is a luxury that we always take for granted. I know I did.”
With the Thompson season approaching, Weltzin said he planned to use his experience to help better the program as they aim for their fifth-straight state championship.

“It has really fired me up,” he said. “If we want to be able to compete nationally and internationally, we’re going to have to be able to do some things different.”