McCollum’s Column: ‘It was like wrestling in a closet’

Francisco Joseph was in awe Friday.

 

A hot September afternoon was Christmas morning for the co-captain of the Central Baptist College wrestling team. The Mustangs may not be moving from the outhouse to the penthouse but it was at least a deluxe room.

CBC dedicated its new 3,750 square football wrestling center out of a converted electrical warehouse.

There is polish, new mats, a nice locker room and a lobby for a receptionist. Greg Hatcher of The Hatcher Agency, the major donor for the building in which CBC signed a three-year lease, has committed to finishing the locker room and add showers.

They key thing is room.

“Pretty much, we were practicing and wrestling in a closet,” Joseph said.

The tiny space allotted for the CBC team at Reddin Fieldhouse was only a third of a mat. The CBC team had to practice in three shifts.

“Even then, we had to be careful to avoid running into each other and avoiding injury,” said coach Ken Prophete.

“It was hard,” said Joseph. “We had to be careful. There were only three small circles on the mat. I was worried more about not hurting myself. It’s nice having padding on the walls.”

Joseph has been one of the top wrestlers for the Mustangs for three years. He’s endured and is now experiencing the brick-and-mortar rewards.

“This is a game-changer,” he said. “With split practices, we really didn’t know our team. Now, we can all can practice at the same time and we can see what we are all capable of. We can cheer the other guys on. It should be great for recruiting. Of the places we have wrestled, I would say this is the best facility.”

Joseph is from West Palm Beach, Florida. He attended the same high school as Prophete, also from West Palm.

After some tense moments last week, their families, some waiting for the restoration of electricity, are OK in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

“When I was recruiting him (Joseph), I found out his grandmother and my mother are good friends. There was a good connection.”

Friday, among enthusiastic group of college officials and supporters, it was clear the CBC wrestlers were making an immediate connection with their new home.

“This represents growth here — growth on the mat, growth in the classroom and today, we are seeing some of the next level of growth for this college,” Prophete said.

 

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