As many of us join in Octoberfest activities here in Michigan, this year we will also take our celebration to Budapest, Hungary.
Team USA will be competing against the best of the best during the 2018 World Championships. Michigan-USA Wrestling takes great pride that two wrestlers on the Greco World Team hail from our very own State. More amazing than these two young men being from the same State is that they are from the same small town of Fowlerville, MI.
Adam Coon and Dalton Roberts grew up together wrestling for the same youth club and competing on the same High School team.
We at Michigan-USA Wrestling were able to sit down and chat with both Adam and Dalton before they head out to represent our Country, State, and their hometown at the highest level of competition.
MUSAW: When do you fly to Europe?
Dalton: Tuesday, the 2nd
MUSAW: How long will you be in Budapest?
Dalton: We don’t fly back until the 29th, so pretty much the whole month of October.
MUSAW: So, that’s a long time.
Dalton: Yeah, Adam and I don’t compete until the last days of the tournament. My matches start on the 26th and Adam’s start on the 28th. So, we’ll have a lot of training camps leading up our event at Worlds.
MUSAW: Adam, this is your second trip to Hungary. Are you expecting the same atmosphere and culture?
Adam: The last time I was there was in 2011 for the Cadet World Championships. Back then we were on the west side in a small city on the border of Austria and Hungary. It was a little resort area with a lot of German culture and heritage. This time we’ll be in the capital of Hungary, I expect a much different experience.
MUSAW: I hope you guys will have some time to explore the city and the culture.
Adam: I’m looking forward to seeing some of the history of the area. Also, with me being a heavyweight, I need to make sure the food is good for everyone else!!
MUSAW: This is the first time that we can recall two hometown boys, from the same High School earning a spot on the world team. It’s special. Has there been any conversations or talk about this from teammates or coaches?
Adam: The topic usually only comes up in conversations. Not sure what Daltons experience has been.
Dalton: Yeah, when everyone is together we inevitably start telling stories from our High School days or even younger. Adam or I will be talking and then the other is able to pick right up and add to or even finish the story. Usually after a look of confusion they ask,” How did you know that?” We’re then able to explain our history together. It has started some really great conversations. I also think what’s more surprising to people than us growing up together is the different path we took. Even though we had the same influences growing up we went in opposite directions with our training and education. To me that shows how much dedication Adam and I had but also how dedicated our coaches and support systems had to be for us to reach our goals. I’m sure there will eventually be more kids from the same club and hometown that can and will do the same. I can’t wait for that!
MUSAW: I’d like to go back to your youth days. How old were you when you both started?
Adam: With my Dad being the coach, he brought me into the practice room when I was really young. Basically, as soon as he could get me away from my mom! Early on I just hung out and watched.
Dalton: Yeah, I was not that young. I started in seventh grade.
MUSAW: Adam can you touch on what it was like starting at such a young age?
Adam: Yeah, even though I started in the wrestling room practicing when I was four or five, it was years before I was mature enough for competition. I was actually eight years old before I entered my first tournament. It took that three years for me to be able to handle competition. Up until then I would get the snot kicked out of me at practice and then go in the corner and cry. I took a lot of beatings and it was a rollercoaster of emotions during those years. But, I chose to grow up and I decided I wanted grow up with the sport, not without it.
MUSAW: So, what I’m hearing is that you don’t necessarily have to start at an early age. Adam didn’t compete immediately and Dalton, you didn’t step on a mat until seventh grade. That really shows that Middle School age kids can have success starting “late”.
Dalton: Absolutely, as long as the dedication is there it doesn’t matter when you start. Right now there’s lots of talk about burnout and that kids are being pushed too hard or forced into sports. Some even say kids can grow out of a sport. If kids or parents feel this way or if they just have yet to try wrestling, it’s never too late. You can be successful if you start at middle school age like myself and we even have a guy on our team that didn’t start until High School.
MUSAW: So, what I’m taking from this is that neither of you had immediate success. You had to lose a whole lot to learn how to win.
Adam: (laughing) Completely correct on my end. Even though I waited to compete until we thought I could handle it. I found myself crying a lot. Honestly, I had lot of losses, which means I cried a lot as well. Once I was able to overcome the emotions of losing was when I actually started to become a mature wrestler. Then, I was able to focus on the wrestling. All those early losses are what helped mold me into the wrestler I am today.
MUSAW: How old were each of you when you won what you would call your first “Major Title.”
Adam: For me it was winning my first state title in seventh grade. I had won other titles before that but only because I was the only one to show up. Other than those, I wrestled in a whole lot of events without much success. The losing helped me to obtain that goal. That long period of losing also made my first state championship that much more rewarding.
Dalton: I was very light in Middle School, like 70 pounds, So there were many times I didn’t get to wrestle and still won first place. Much like Adam I guess, but on the other end of the scale! My most memorable moment was my sophomore year when I made the Cadet Fila World team. Earning that spot changed me.
MUSAW: You’re both great ambassadors to our sport and state. What advice would you give parents looking to help develop their children into great wrestlers?
Dalton: I think keeping it fun is the best thing. It’s okay to guide your children but don’t force them. Not every day is going to be fun, practices are hard. Losing is harder. If parents are always on their case and pushing them harder and harder the fun is lost. Let the coaches push the kids, parents just need to be there to make sure they still enjoy it. Let’s face it, Adam and I are not doing this because we’re going to get rich. Wrestling is not a financially rewarding sport to choose. If we didn’t enjoy it, we wouldn’t do it. I know I have enjoyed it from the get-go, the day I stop enjoying it is the day I quit.
Adam: I would agree. Wrestling is hard enough as it is. Long practices, long tournaments; it’s all really, really hard. Parents that push or constantly look for improvement sometimes take the fun out of it. For me personally, my dad wanted to make sure I had some off days. He would bring out a calendar for both of us to review. We would choose the events that I wanted to do, nothing more. By making decisions together, I was able to guide the way. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have to bribe me a couple of times to get up and moving for a tournament. Usually all it took was a promise of McDonalds breakfast, but I still felt like I was in control of when I competed.
MUSAW: Okay, on to High School. Both of you had success at the MHSAA as well as the USA levels in Cadet and Junior. Did either style of wrestling help you excel in the other?
Adam: I’d say they all go hand in hand. I did all three styles for my entire career. To me the three different styles complement each other and made me a well-rounded wrestler. If a wrestler only competes during the High School season they are missing out on so much. Competing in Freestyle/Greco gave me a season worth of matches in the off season. So, yeah, it’s all about mat time and gaining that extra experience. When I started my sophomore year, I had twice the amount of matches in than those who only did MHSAA.
Also, when I was on a Cadet or Junior Dual team, I saw so much more competition. It’s like Domestic vs. Foreign you’re no longer stuck within the borders of MHSAA. You get to represent your High School and your State. There’s pride that comes with that, with being a member of Team Michigan.
Dalton: I agree. It’s all about mat time. They tend to all work together because they force you to wrestle different ways using different techniques. It’s also exciting to travel to other states and see the best competition in the country. Every match I wrestled help get me better.
MUSAW: Why do you think more High School wrestlers don’t entertain Freestyle or Greco Roman?
Adam: I think the major factor is college wrestling. The perception is that college wrestling is “end all be all.” Then after college, the “best” wrestlers go onto the international stage. What most don’t understand is the back story. For example; Kyle Snyder is perceived as a really good Folkstyle wrestler from Ohio State that just happened to win a Freestyle Gold Medal at the Olympic Games. Most people don’t realize he’s competed just as much Freestyle as he has Folkstyle.
Dalton: I agree with Adam. Most kids competing in High School focus on earning a scholarship to college. They also see that the main focus is on Folkstyle at the college level. Because of that Freestyle doesn’t seem as flashy and the glory doesn’t seem as great. In my opinion we really need to start focusing on this at the high school level. Currently, The United States are World Champions in Freestyle and now we are on our way to that in Greco-Roman. I really hope our continued success will attract more high schoolers to try it.
MUSAW: On the topic of college, you both took separate paths in your wrestling journey. Yet, here you are on the same team once again
Dalton: It comes down to goals. We both had the same goal in the end. Adam went the NCAA route, and I did something different. Our goals brought us to the same place. I think it’s great that kids see that there doesn’t have to be a clear-cut path.
Adam: Many people are not aware that programs and options other than NCAA are out there. Dalton went to Northern Michigan and focused on Greco. We went separate ways with the same goal and ended up at the same destination.
MUSAW: What advice would you give wrestlers of any age group on how to handle the losses
Dalton: I say I don’t look back, but I do wish I would have won that State title my senior year! But, honestly, I wished I lived more in the moment. You know, the emotional moments that bring tears to an athlete’s eyes. Those moments when you look at how far you’ve come and everything you went through to get there.
Adam: To focus on the journey, it’s not just about the win or the loss. If that was the case then there would never be any emotion involved. What connects the emotion is the years of hard work, the years of blood sweat and tears that got you to whatever point in your journey you are at. When you think, I’ve made it, that’s what makes everything worthwhile; all the crap that you’ve gone through. Every athlete that’s overcome with emotion is probably thinking the same thing, I did it!
How does the world team look?
Adam: Really, really good. We’re very excited to get started. It’s going to be a tough grind and we’re ready to punch back.
The family here at Michigan USA Wrestling would like to thank both Adam and Dalton taking the time to speak with us. We wish you both the best of luck in Budapest.