The COVID -19 Pandemic has hurt the province, and the world in many ways.  Physically the virus is keeping people distant, sick, and mentally it is creating fear and loneliness. 

Many plans and activities have been cast aside for social distancing, and one of the biggest losses will be to the kids graduating to the adult world without a number of milestones of life, like graduation and prom.  The athletes that were on the cusp of greatness were caught up in the safety measures as well, and three local wrestlers were stopped at the front door of Strathmore High School's first shot at a provincial title in the sport. 

Eric Claros took on the coaching duties for the first time in the school's history, and like Cinderella by some magic, they found themselves qualifying for the big match in Calgary.  This like most other sports was cancelled, and the organizers are still hoping to pull some sort of event off, but the possibility is slipping away day by day. 

Wrestlers are supposed to be tough and brush things like this off like they would sidestep a single leg takedown, but because they are putting it all on the mat it is often a part of their heart that they are sacrificing to get that hard-fought victory.  To have that taken away from you by an unbeatable foe is something that a natural-born fighter can't comprehend. 

This can leave them feeling empty, and Claros can see the effect on the kids, "I really feel sad for my guys because we have quite a bit of grade twelves, and they were really happy to make it to provincials, right.  You know it is hard on them and they do understand that we have to be safe, and we have to be healthy.  We have to take care of each other. They are taking it in stride but I can tell it hurts them."

This is a tragic event and one that we hope will ultimately make us a stronger and more resilient community, so we look to the future.  Claros recently took to Facebook to ask for some support in the coming years.  We have a great program now, and they will no doubt be in pursuit of that provincial title next year.  The mats that the team practice on are in rough shape and the team will often come away with cuts and bruises every time they have to use them.  Claros has asked for any donation of some MMA mats, or used equipment for the next group of wrestlers to try, and reach for greatness.  Even if they don't get the mats it will be their dedication that gets them their next shot, but for a team that came from nothing to provincial contenders, I hope they do. 

Claros did not do this feat by himself and he is extremely grateful for the support that he did receive in their wild road, "I would like to thanks the administration here at the school because I know it has been a really tough time, but we are all coming together as a team and we are dealing with it the best that we can. I will always remember this year because it been one of the most special years as a coach, and coaching the Strathmore wrestling team, and I will always remember that in my heart."