Since 2004, aspiring wrestlers at the Little Wound School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation have foregone home matches. It’s because the school can’t afford to buy the team a new wrestling mat.
According to a campaign for student athletes on Indiegogo.com, the team’s current mat is unsafe because it has cracks, folds and tears in it that could cause serious injury. They are asking for $13,000 for a new mat; so far, they have raised $2,061 and the clock is ticking. The campaign began on November 7, and ends on Sunday, December 7 at Midnight.
“I’ve been trying to develop a [wrestling] program since 1999,” Wrestling Coach Chris Janis said in a video interview. “Everybody can’t play basketball, everybody can’t play football. Let’s branch out so we can make the program bigger and get kids involved in something else." He also said that the school had received offers to host the West River Conference tournament, but had to turn them down because they did not have a proper mat.
Chris Janis says that his wrestling team needs a new mat
In a YouTube interview with some of the school’s wrestlers, who range in age from elementary to high school, they said that having a new mat would help them stay fit, motivated and “stay out of trouble.” One student said that they haven’t wrestled for so long because the mat is 20 years old. “We need a new mat because the tears and cracks in our mat are a safety risk,” said the 15-year old sophomore. “And it would be really nice to have a home match.”
Once the mat is purchased, it takes 3-5 months to manufacturer it. Janis said it would not be worth reconditioning the current one because it would cost at least $1600 to restore the decades-old mat. The goal is to use the mat for their first home wrestling meet in 2015. “Basketball is such a big sport on a reservation [and] wrestling is like 10 percent; maybe even less,” Janis said. “But I’d really like to push it forward.”
For more information on how to contribute, visit Indiegogo.com.