Bill Brooks said his wrestling club has benefited from having a membership that is high on siblings, which lets kids in the same household practice wrestling technique without worrying about physical distancing. Pictured with the kids to the left is Grapplers coach Americo Pene. (Submitted photo)

Chilliwack Grapplers wrestling club weathers COVID storm

The fledgling club has had to get creative to stay afloat in a time of physical distancing

If there’s one sport you’d figure would suffer more than all others during a pandemic, it would be wrestling.

How can a sport built around close human contact exist in a world of physical distancing.

That’s the question Bill Brooks has had to answer these last few months as he’s guided his Chilliwack Grapplers through a tumultuous time.

But the young wrestling club that just celebrated its one year anniversary in July is not just surviving. It’s thriving, with Brooks looking to build on a rock-solid foundation.

“We had a very exciting first year and then COVID hit, and we’ve been in the same group as hockey and rugby and sports like that,” he said. “It has been challenging, but we’ve been following return-to-play guidelines, including screening our athletes and wiping down all of our equipment.

“As for as actual wrestling, we just got a couple wrestling dummies on loan that finally allow the kids to do some throwing and grappling and practice technique.”

READ MORE: Wrestling rebirth as Chilliwack Grapplers start summer program

READ MORE: WWE star Roman Reigns announces he has leukemia

Brooks said the Grapplers have benefited from having a membership that is heavy on siblings. Where kids from different families wouldn’t be able to pair off and wrestle, kids from the same ‘bubble’ can.

Thirty per cent of the Grapplers are siblings.

“That allows us a little flexibility to do some contact stuff,” Brooks said.

The group lost its main workout space in the spring when Evergreen Hall was closed to the public. In a case of making lemonade out of lemons, Brooks was forced to move the club’s workouts outdoors.

On Tuesday night he had mats set up at Townsend Park.

“It’s entirely because of COVID, but truth be told, it’s been pretty pleasant,” he said. “On a warm summer evening, we’re laughing and joking and running sprints, catching up on what everyone’s doing for the summer.

“I actually prefer it, and if I could ever find a covered tent, we’d be good to go.”

Brooks knows a lot of kids who normally play one of the ‘rough and tumble’ sports like rugby might be looking for something to do right now, and he said his Grapplers will welcome new members.

“Anyone who plays a sport that requires low-to-the-ground mobility, our program can augment that,” he said. “The UBC rugby team proactively started to work out with a wrestling club for that very reason, because they recognize the benefits of some time on the mats.”

Before the pandemic hit the Grapplers had lots of momentum. Brooks was planning to have in-school demos and build up the membership, and it’s still his goal to get as many kids out as possible.

“If someone is active, we invite them to join us and see what we’re all about.”

For more info, email or check out the club’s Facebook page.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

COLUMN: We don’t need an election. But it’s 2020, so we’ll probably get one anyways.

There are only selfish reasons for the NDP to trigger an election this fall

Say ‘Hi’ to the mountains (and rain): The smoke is gone from the Fraser Valley, for now

Saturday’s Fraser Valley air quality forecast at ‘moderate risk,’ but morning showers leave skies clear

Chilliwack Agriculture Tour goes virtual during pandemic

Rather than bus tourists to local farms, tour stops will be posted on Facebook and Instagram

City of Chilliwack holding annual Hazardous Waste Day in early October

The one-day event is a chance to get rid of household things like pesticides and paint cans

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Most Read