Taking them from ‘tough to unbreakable’. That’s what Cornell head coach Rob Koll says his program aims to do with the wrestlers that enter the Big Red room.
What’s the method used to do that? While most wrestling fans have seen Cornell wrestlers such as Kyle Dake in action, far fewer have witnessed what goes on behind the scenes to produce the kind of success the Ivy League squad has enjoyed, both on the mat and in the classroom, over the years.
Inside Trip, a DVD by Nick Garone and Riccio Productions, looks to change that, giving viewers an opportunity to see beyond the training.
“I was really excited when Nick [Garone] asked if he could do the video because it was another opportunity for us to show the difference between Cornell and almost any other program,” Koll said. “It gives a deeper perspective into our program and lets people see not just what our team looks like in matches and in postmatch interviews but much more than that. It lets them really meet our kids and see what they’re like and why they’re successful.”
Indeed, over 15 wrestlers and coaches, ranging from national champions to second or third stringers, provide insights on everything from practices, the academic experience, the camaraderie and the dreaded cold tub.
Freshman Nahshon Garrett tells about why studying for tests is easier than doing plate runs. All-American Mike Nevinger talks about wrestlers being different. Joe Stanzione discusses the full academic and athletic experience. Kyle Dake talks about total dominance. And so on.
“We were shooting for something that was similar to the NFL Hard Knocks concept,” Garone said. “You get to see everyone working hard but also having a great time. There are a lot of things that people would never see, like the ice tubs and the goofing around in the training room, the fun at dinner. It’s been well received by those who have seen it.”
That’s certainly true of National Wrestling Hall of Fame member Gene Mills, now the head coach at Phoenix High School, who said he was excited to show the Inside Trip video to his wrestlers.
“I thought it was awesome,” Mills said. “It was something that caught my attention from the beginning and I didn’t want to stop watching because I wanted to see what was coming next. I showed it to my team and it got them really motivated; it pumped them up. It was great to see what the experience at Cornell is like. I think kids would like to see what the experience would be like in other schools too.”
The series has been expanded to include an inside look at ACC squads Duke and Maryland as well as the Grapple at the Garden event. Plans are in the works for a video on Ohio State as well as individuals such as Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs.
But the Inside Trip series began with Cornell, where Big Red 197-pounder Lukasz Stala explains that “there’s never a dull moment” in his student-athlete experience.
As the video shows, that’s how it is when you’re taking wrestlers from tough to unbreakable. Countless young wrestlers are hoping to make that transition. Perhaps they can get inspired with the Big Red.