Amanda Tiberghien recently presented a proposal in December to the California School Board about the possibility of adding a wrestling program at California High School. California is the only district in the Tri-County Conference that does not currently offer wrestling.
Tiberghien said her family got interested in wrestling when her oldest son Layne Tiberghien, who is in eighth grade, wanted to try the sport. Tiberghien said her younger son, Clayton, also wrestles.
She said they found a club for Layne to wrestle at in the Central Missouri Wrestling Club, which is in its second year, and Layne's interest in the sport grew with his time in the club, but a problem soon became clear.
"We were disappointed to find out that once you are a freshman, you cannot continue to wrestle at tournaments," Tiberghien said. "The only way for him to get to continue to wrestle will be if (CHS) adds the sport to their high school athletics."
She said her family is not the only one in this situation, so she decided she had to do something.
"We are not alone — there are several families in the same situation with their students and California not offering it in high school." Tiberghien said. "So you see, I could not just stand by and wait any longer, the kids as a student body have been hearing for years that California was finally going to add wrestling. With our son's age and his friends that share the same interest, we couldn't wait any longer just hoping we would finally get wrestling. I had to jump in and figure out how to get this sport in the eye of the school board and the entire California School District."
Tiberghien said she presented wrestling as needed at the high school for a couple of reasons.
"The most obvious is because the kids in high school have no other option to be able to wrestle unless their school provides that opportunity for them," Tiberghien said. "Middle school students can still wrestle in kid club, as in CMWC, Tri-Cap, Eldon. I have found there are actually several options for kids clubs around us."
A JV team would be a good way to start if wrestling was added at CHS, Tiberghien said.
"At this moment, the most kids with kids club experience are your middle schoolers who soon will be in high school, (and) four of the current wrestlers are eighth graders. A junior varsity team allows to see the potential and to get the program started, ready to build and move up as our students progress," Tiberghien said. "Seniors and juniors can wrestle on a JV team when a program is being built. To build a foundation for a varsity program we have to market it, and a JV team is a perfect option. I spoke with Capital City in Jefferson City, and they are doing this option this year."
Tiberghien said adding wrestling could help students with more opportunities for college scholarships.
"I believe the more students we can help by providing them life skills, opportunities to stay active, and helping them take that next level of education, the better we will make our community," Tiberghien said.
Wrestling teaches important lessons and life skills, Tiberghien said. It is also a sport Tiberghien said anyone can participate in.
"Wrestling teaches how to handle adversity, be mentally tough, work ethic, discipline, confidence, self-reliance, respect, to just name a few benefits," Tiberghien said. "Wrestling is a sport anyone can do, there are 14 weight classes, and it doesn't discriminate based on size, height, weight, speed — even with a lack of coordination you can wrestle. Wrestling provides opportunities for the blind and physically handicapped."
Tiberghien said there are several spaces that can be used to hold wrestling practices, and she thinks the best location for practices would be in the mezzanine.
"The mezzanine is the logical area to hold wrestling," Tiberghien said. "Boonville ... utilizes their mezzanine for wrestling practice and has for many years, just to show that it can and has been done."
Regarding a practice space, California Superintedent Dwight Sanders said, in 2014, the school added on to the weight room facility for multiple purposes, including having room to fit a wrestling mat if the school decided to add wrestling down the road.
"On our high school campus near the football field, we (have) the weight room and a locker room and the visitors locker room that is there now," Sanders said. "That was planned to be a visitors locker room for opposing football teams when they came to play games at our home stadium because that stadium was new in 2014 as well. So we needed a place for the visitors to dress and in our planning for that facility, we talked about making it large enough to be able to accommodate a wrestling mat if down the road we decided that wrestling was a sport that we wanted to start."
There is support in the community for the idea of adding a wrestling program, Tiberghien said.
"We have kids of all ages interested, we have parents of all these kids that have said yes, if my child would like to pursue wrestling we would be all for it," Tiberghien said. "We have grandparents, alumni, teachers. I have not heard from anyone who has been against California adding wrestling. Some have had questions about the program, but once we've talked, they said yes, they would support California adding wrestling. I have around 45 students that are interested currently and I believe as the word continues to get out, that number will grow. When I went to the school board, we had many parents, students, and surrounding coaches provide letters of their support. I have no doubt in my mind that wrestling would be a great addition to California and benefit many students."