Big names help make camp success

Posted in: Sports
By Todd Brooks
Jul 24, 2014 - 8:55:20 AM

STANCESMarlow wrestling coaches are trying to help the program return to its glory days and they received a boost this year with a wrestling camp featuring mixed martial arts (MMA) world champion Johny Hendricks and University of Oklahoma assistant coach Michael Lightner, a Marlow native.
Wrestlers from all over came to get instruction and tips from the former collegiate Division I national champions.
For Hendricks, the reigning UFC welterweight champion, it was an opportunity to get back to his roots. A two-time wrestling national champion at Oklahoma State, Hendricks was a big draw for the camp. Not only were more than 130 wrestlers, a crowd made up of parents and other visitors watched from the stands.
Hendricks kept the attention of the wrestlers ranging from elementary to high school students. It had been about seven years since the last time Hendricks had done a camp.
“The camp atmosphere is always good,” Hendricks said. “It’s nice to be able to remember – remember the wrestling background. You do it so much, but it is easy to do, but hard to teach. It’s why I enjoy teaching because it helps you remember what you did.”
It is not hard to spot his wrestling background in his MMA fights.
“You’ve got to,” Hendricks said. “I don’t use it all the time like I should, but whenever I do, I know it will be there. That’s why I go back to Oklahoma State wrestling camps every year, so I can keep my timing sharp. Coach Smith has a great program and they let you get some work done.”
Hendricks was the guest of youth wrestling coach Shawn Bateman, who coached him in his younger years.
“I was a freshman or sophomore, and my dad got a hold of him and found a way for him to coach me,” Hendricks said. “He taught me how to wrestle a different style, a more aggressive style, and I’ve been that way ever since.”
Even though punching is allowed in MMA, Hendricks thinks wrestling is a tougher sport.
“Compared to wrestling, nothing is harder,” Hendricks said. “You got to get used to getting punched in the face, but other than that, it is not hard. Compared to wrestling, it is a lot easier.
“That’s why I tell people it’s hard to get into it when you wrestle just in high school, and you don’t wrestle in college. You go to college, and it will prepare you for anything you do in MMA. You become national champion or all-American for your college, you have to put in the work, you have to put in the grind. That’s what prepares you.
“In all of that, you also get an education. I’m a firm believer in education, and moving forward from there.”
Hendricks told campers the key to toughness, a word commonly associated with MMA, is simply deciding to be tough.
Marlow head wrestling coach Kelly Henderson was appreciated Hendricks’ help.
“It’s priceless, it’s really great,” Henderson said. “He helps motivate kids, and that’s all I care about.”
There were several different schools represented – Duncan, Elgin, Cache, Tuttle, and Comanche among other places.
“Obviously John Hendricks was a big, huge part of that,” Henderson said. “It’s always good for people to know someplace small like Marlow can get things like that.”
The large attendance helped raise funds for the youth, junior high, and high school programs.
“That helps with all sorts of things for our team,” Henderson said.
Bateman was also pleased with how things went for the camp.
“To get these guys to come do a camp is really a great thing,” Bateman said. “We are blessed to have guys to teach our kids. Michael taught freestyle on Tuesday, and Johny helped us out on Monday. This is fantastic for the kids. It is a great resource for them to learn from some of the best in the world, not just in Oklahoma.”
Lightner was originally scheduled to be at the camp Tuesday and Wednesday, but OU obligations caused him to miss the final day.