After winning another pair of national championships last week, the Badgers wrestling dynasty continues to dominate the country. But what makes this program so unique and special with roster changes year to year? The one constant over the past two decades has been head coach Marty Calder.
Calder will be the first to tell you that it’s not about him, but rather about the team and the program. Back in November, Calder told The Brock Press that the key to this dynastic program has been passion.
“I’m not just talking about me, I’m talking about the staff that is willing to put in the work,” said Calder.
Emily Schaefer, a four-time national champion, had nothing but praise for the coaching staff.
“Each of our coaches are immensely knowledgeable and experienced in the sport. I never once have questioned their commitment,” she said. “In fact, if I put in four to five hours a day training, they put in just as many, if not more. They are constantly looking for ways to help us grow into successful athletes and achieve our goals”
Schaefer has learned from Calder and the Brock coaching staff for five years and has built off the energy and drive.
“[Calder] is a huge reason I came to Brock and I am so thankful this is where I ended up. I think one of the reasons that he, Dave [Collie] and the other coaches are such great coaches is because they see more potential in each of us than we see in ourselves, and they expect greatness from us,” Schaefer said. “Because they see our potential, they are willing to put in their part to help us meet and exceed those expectations.”
Schaefer is one of four Badgers that will be graduating this year, along with her female teammates Tina McLaren and Darrion Sterling and male wrestler Jevon Balfour.
“I think there is something to say about this year being special with it being my final year,” Schaefer said. “I’ve been on the team for five years and each of the five years the women’s team won both the OUA and U Sports team titles. It was really awesome to finish well with my team. So reflectively, that was nice. To me, OUAs and U Sports are some of the most enjoyable tournaments to be a part of, so I will miss that. But at the same time, we have important tournaments coming up still, so there’s still a lot to look forward to. While my varsity career has come to an end, my wrestling career isn’t finished yet.”
“Like every year, our graduates will be missed,” said assistant coach Dave Collie. “They have been great role models for our younger athletes leading by example. Their hard work and dedication has not only allowed them to compete on the varsity side, but has also seen them representing Canada on the international stage. They have medaled at Pan-Ams, Commonwealths and Francophone games. We look forward to helping them further their wrestling careers as they can now focus on their international performances and Olympic aspirations.”
Brock wrestling has experienced individual team success and that has been the cause of consecutive team banners.
“I think our team has a special bond,” said Schaefer. “We spend so much time together — training, travelling, preparing, competing — that we have really become a family. I always say that wrestling is not actually an individual sport. Each of us has a huge team behind us — from being training partners in the room, to our coaching staff, to our trainers and therapists and other support staff. Our individual success isn’t really possible without all of that. It’s honestly a team sport. And I know that when tournament day comes, along with whatever stresses and anxiety there is, I have countless teammates that I can approach for support or encouragement.”
The support system that Calder has developed has undoubtedly helped his athletes reach their full potential, and is a key reason to why the program has seen so much success under his leadership.