The club has 20-25 high school students.

In October of last year, FishHawk resident Mark Drake started the FishHawk Wrestling Club (FWC) in hopes of teaching wrestling to students in the FishHawk area.

Drake has had a successful wrestling career. He was a state champion in Louisiana in high school and wrestled in college at Louisiana State University. He also wrestled when he was in the Army for the club team. Drake is now a coach for the FWC middle school/high school club. He started teaching wrestling to his twin sons, Parker and Kohl, when they were in second grade.

They both wrestled at Newsome High School, placing at states, and they now wrestle for Southeastern University in Lakeland. Last year, Parker finished third in the state and Kohl was Newsome’s first state champion. The twins, along with fellow state placer Joey Labarre, will help out from time-to-time at the middle school/high school practices.

The AAU wrestling club is not affiliated with Newsome High School, but there are about 20-25 students with FWC that attend the school. The club was partly created to develop high school underclassmen that need the extra repetitions to gain strength, experience and to learn fundamentals so that they are prepared for high school wrestling.

Wrestlers from elementary school through high school that are from the area are welcome to join. The club currently has approximately 12-15 elementary school students.

During the season, high school wrestlers can come out and get a little extra training, and for the post and pre-seasons, the focus will be on Greco, freestyle and folk styles. FWC will participate in local and travel events. Students will need to pay for event entry fees individually.

There is a one-time annual $40 club fee for middle school/high school, and students will also need an AAU card to join ( Practice times and locations include: elementary classes at Gracie Fishhawk on Tuesday from 4-5:20 p.m. and Thursday from 4- 5:20 p.m., and high school/middle school classes at Gracie Fishhawk on Wednesday from 4-5:20 p.m. and Sunday from 1-2:30 p.m.

“I’ve always told my kids and my students that wrestling is a life experience,” said Drake. “The things that you learn in wrestling, the mental hardships, the physical hardships, all those things can prepare you in life for anything that you’re going to come up against.”

The FWC plans to have the elementary and middle school clubs compete at the AAU State Tournament in March if it is not canceled like it was last year due to COVID-19. For more information, follow the official Newsome High School Facebook page.

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.