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  • Nina Keith

Rise & Wrestle

Rise & Wrestle

In 1993 when Benjamin Collins was in 8th grade, a friend asked him if he would like to join the wrestling team. "There is a wrestling team?" he asked. Benjamin went on to become a Varsity starting wrestler. "I love this sport," he said. After graduation, he could not stay away and enlisted as an assistant coach with his alma mater. The idea for Rivertown Wrestling began as a summer club to give the older kids extra work, but the real challenge was teaching wrestling basics every year. Could you imagine a varsity baseball team having to teach the players to hold a bat? There must be a way to get younger kids involved. There are too many kids missing out on college scholarships because they started wrestling late. The founding of Rivertown Wrestling was a way to create an opportunity for kids to start working on their skills early. The program ran for about eight years with a small group of 10 to 20 kids.

In 2016, the program grew from 20 to 40 kids with the help of now CEO of Rivertown Wrestling and Head Coach Kenya Keith. In 1997, Keith became the last varsity wrestling State Champion to come out of Conway High School. He coached by now Football Hall of Famer Nate Thompson. Keith said, "I feel like as a state champion, it's my responsibility to help produce more state champions." Coach Harold Williams, a graduate, and wrestler of Loris High School, joined the team in 2017. They both started recruiting the youth/at-risk youth in our community. The club is running around 35 to 40 kids who travel across South Carolina to wrestle in tournaments. Some of our kids have reached national status recognition making history with every tournament. They compete year-round in places like Georgia, New Jersey, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Florida, Tennessee, and Idaho, to name a few. "But it doesn't need to stop there.", Keith said.

We want to see wrestling available for any kid, just like baseball, football, basketball, or soccer. "Wrestling is recognized as the first sport ever invented but gets the least amount of support, especially in southern states," Keith said. We want to change that narrative here at Rivertown and see more college scholarships coming to Conway and surrounding areas. We want more kids involved, out exercising, and having healthy habits. That also helps build integrity in our community.

The Rivertown Wrestling Club is seeking sponsors for its upcoming 20-21 season. The non-profit youth sports organization serves boys/girls ages 4-15. Wrestling is a sport of individual participation functioning within the framework of a team concept. This aspect contributes to developing lifelong patterns of responsible behaviors, including discipline, the ability to set goals and achieve them, and respect for others. The sport of wrestling helps young people by increasing self-confidence while they gain an appreciation of their self-worth.

To ensure a successful program for the youth in our community, we rely on local businesses to provide sponsorships and help underwrite the cost of the program.

We are the feeder program for all local high schools. Until COVID-19 happened, we had a place for our youth to practice; however, because of COVID, we no longer have that home. Rivertown recently leased a wrestling facility at 1909 Highway 378 in Conway, SC, to continue this fantastic journey with our communities' youth. The grand opening of our new building took place on November 10, 2020. All funds collected cover new building expenses, uniforms, travel expenses, equipment, mats, tournament fees, and scholarships for our at-risk youth. Your support will guarantee that this becomes a successful and enjoyable season and program. Special thanks to Ian @ Maguire Law Firm and Kwik Services Heating & Air for your generous contributions.

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