When Casey Woodall came back home to Morenci eight years ago to coach high school wrestling and to teach, he had an idea.
Why not start a wrestling club to give kids something else to do after school? It could also help strengthen his future high school team, he thought.
Well, it worked.
The Morenci Wildcats took state in their division this year, with the help of three freshmen who were among the first to join the Black Jack Wrestling Club: Mikey Casillas, John Provencio and Noah Torres.
The club, which has members as young as 3-years-old, started out with 15 to 20 members and now boasts roughly 100, Woodall said.
On Mondays and Wednesdays, the high school wrestling team meets with elementary and junior high school students at the high school and coaches them on the finer points of wrestling.
This year, the club’s younger members met mid-March through last week. The junior high and high school kids will continue to meet through the summer, Woodall said.
It can get a bit hectic at times, he said.
Two of the club members are 3, including his nephew, Woodall said.
“Sometimes they get out there and just stare at each other, sometimes they wrestle and sometimes they just play tag and run all over the place,” he said.
While everyone has fun, there are other benefits to the program, he said.
“It gives the kids in high school a community service mindset,” Woodall said. “It allows them to step up, to mature and it give thems a chance to lead.”