On the mat: Charles Henderson’s newest sport starts today

Published 6:16 pm Wednesday, January 9, 2019

There will be another sport for Charles Henderson fans to be excited for and the season starts today.

The first ever Charles Henderson wrestling team begins its inaugural season in Opelika on Thursday.

It’s been a plan that has been three years in the making for Charles Henderson principal Dr. Brock Kelley.

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“For the past three years I wanted to create a wrestling team,” Kelley said. “For one, not everyone is a great football player. Not everyone is a great basketball player or baseball player. Wrestling is one of those sports I believe that gives opportunities to everyone to succeed.”

Wrestling will be the ninth sport offered at Charles Henderson, joining baseball, softball, basketball, football, golf, soccer, cross country, track and volleyball.

“It’s a sport that really tests endurance, it tests character,” Kelley said. “It’s just one of those things that I wanted to provide our students. My goal is to find a place and have everyone find their place in high school. That’s really important to me and that is one of my goals as principal of Charles Henderson High School.”

Matt Raiti is the team’s first head coach. Raiti will be looked at to teach the fundamentals of wrestling, something he knows about from his days of wrestling in high school.

“He wrestled in high school and was very successful,” Kelley said. “He competed for a state championship in Pennsylvania, which is a wrestling state.”

In order to get funding for the sport, Kelley wrote several grants and received money to start the program.

“None of the finances or funds came out of any type of sports funding,” Kelley said. “All of this was from outside grants that I wrote. With the help of Chief Eugene Murphy, he contacted the Air Force and the Air Force came in and bought us our competition mat. They spent about $10,000 on it. We have definitely had some outside help funding this opportunity for our students.”

BSN Sports funded Charles Henderson’s uniforms and shoes.

“There were a lot of people that got behind this program because they see the importance of wrestling,” Kelley said. “The main reason why we started this is because we thought it would be one of those things that students can really buy into.”

The Trojans have been practicing over the last two months. They currently have around 15 wrestlers on their roster. Their match in Opelika will be a tri-match. The Trojans will be competing against Opelika and Beauregard.

“We are definitely really excited about this,” Kelley said. “We think this is going to be a really successful program at Charles Henderson High School.”

The Trojans are planning on hosting an in-school match sometime this season; however, the exact date and time are still to be determined.

“We want to promote our program,” Kelley said. “We are trying to get a match with Enterprise at 1:00 p.m. in the near future. It will be open to the public as well as our students.”