MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Tryouts for Marines wanting to become part of the All-Marine Wrestling team were held at the Ironworks Gym here Monday.
The sport of wrestling incorporates varying styles ranging from the more popular and well known collegiate and Greco-Roman to the less known Sambo.
Maj. Joseph D. Hicks, head coach for the All-Marine Wrestling team since 2004, has been involved with the sport since 1980.
“I’m just looking for good wrestlers,” said Hicks. “I’m looking for good hardnosed kids that have wrestling experience and are willing to work and learn. I can teach them everything they need to know when they get out to Lejeune.”
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., is the headquarters for the wrestling team. The Marines that were chosen by Hicks will continue on from there to start training camp at Lejeune from Feb. 1 to Aug. 1.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Steven T. Smiley. Smiley, a standout from Clarkston, Michigan, has been involved in the sport since junior high school. “I got a good workout in.”
The tryouts served as a means for Hicks to gauge each Marine’s overall technical proficiency.
“The more t e c h n i c a l l y advanced he is, the better off he will be when he goes to Camp Lejeune,” Hicks said. “Just as important is toughness and weight. There are certain weights I need. Right now, I need small guys in the 121-132 pound range.”
For some, trying out for the All- Marine Wrestling team was their main reason for becoming a Marine.
“That was my goal when I first came into the Marine Corps,” said Joshua C. Hattendorf, a Florida native. “I want to be a wrestling coach for my old high school.”
John A. Moore, a fellow Floridian wrestler, took part in the tryouts as well. He and Hattendorf competed against one another before joining the Corps.
Though most had sights on becoming members of the wrestling team, some merely wanted the opportunity to test themselves and compete.
“I don’t think I really lived up to my potential when I was younger. This is my way of making up for what I missed out on,” said Moore.
Sweat beaded down the heads of some Marines as Hicks had the Marines participate in drills to loosen their bodies by performing rolls and various stretches as they circled Hicks.
“I really enjoy coaching the Marines,” Hicks said.
Hicks has visited Pendleton, 29 Palms, and Okinawa in his search to find new wrestlers.
“If you’re serious about wrestling, wrestle,” said Hicks. “Find somewhere to wrestle people. Find somebody to wrestle.”
Hicks will make one last stop at Marine Corps Base Hawaii before returning to Lejeune to prepare for the upcoming training camp.