Bulgaria Wrestling & Cultural Exchange

Welcome to our travel blog!

Follow the team through our photos, videos and notes as we train, wrestle, meet friends, and experience Bulgarian culture.

Freestyle & Greco Roman Training Camp

Posted by on Apr 9, 2017 in Bulgaria, Events, News, Practices | Comments Off on Freestyle & Greco Roman Training Camp

Freestyle & Greco Roman Training Camp

We are holding a 5-day, 11-practice freestyle & Greco Roman Training camp as part of our Wrestling & Cultural Exchange Program. Wrestlers will participate in Bulgarian style practices; learn techniques, tactics and strategies from Bulgarian coaches; and train with wrestlers from Bulgaria and Casco Bay Elite. Bulgarian wrestlers, Casco Bay Elite team members and Training Camp attendees will all practice together in the Portland High School Gymnasium. There will be two scheduled practices each day except Saturday. Wrestlers will...

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Last Day of Training, Saying Goodbye to New Friends

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Bulgaria | Comments Off on Last Day of Training, Saying Goodbye to New Friends

Last Day of Training, Saying Goodbye to New Friends

Monday was our last day of training in Bulgaria and we finished on a high note. After all the traveling we had been doing, two practices at Vasil Levski with Sport Group Athletic seemed like a slow-paced day. There was plenty of down time between practices and meals for everyone to get their gear organized and rest up for Tuesday’s long travel day. The first practice was from 10 – Noon. We started with a solid warm-up and were pleasantly surprised to see all the improvement our kids had made in their exercises and skills since we...

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Sunday Practice and the Bachkovo Monastery

Posted by on Apr 25, 2016 in Bulgaria | Comments Off on Sunday Practice and the Bachkovo Monastery

Sunday Practice and the Bachkovo Monastery

After having a whole day to rest and relax we decided to hold Sunday morning practice at Vasil Levski. Coach Pavil, of the Sport Group Athletic team at the school and our guide for the whole week, generously offered to help us work on technique from 9-11 am. In addition to his extensive wrestling and coaching experience in Bulgaria, we was a national team coach in Syria and Samoa. He brings together techniques, tactics and combinations from all over the world and shared them with us. The kids went through their first Bulgarian style warm up...

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A Day at the Spa – History, Rest and Relaxation

Posted by on Apr 23, 2016 in Bulgaria | Comments Off on A Day at the Spa – History, Rest and Relaxation

A Day at the Spa – History, Rest and Relaxation

Today was the only day on our trip with no wrestling scheduled so we planned a day at one of the most famous cultural sites in Bulgaria for a history lesson and a chance to test the curative powers of the mineral springs in Hisarya. We drove about 45 minutes north from Plovdiv to the base of the mountains to get to the city which was founded thousands of years ago due to the hot mineral springs found there. Our first stop was the archaeological museum that showed the history of Hisarya from its pre-historic period, its time as a Thracian...

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Much Respect for the Bulgarian National Champs

Posted by on Apr 22, 2016 in Bulgaria | Comments Off on Much Respect for the Bulgarian National Champs

Much Respect for the Bulgarian National Champs

Today was another beautiful, wrestling-packed day for the Casco Bay Elite team in Bulgaria. We were able to relax at the hotel for a little while this morning as our first practice didn’t start until 10:00 at Vasil Levski. After a great warm up we had an extensive Greco technique session with Coach Pavil. We reviewed and drilled all of the techniques we worked on yesterday afternoon – body locks, underhooks, Russian ties and gut wrenches. Coach Pavil’s technique is the model of simplicity. Everything is about getting in the...

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A Long Day but Well Worth It

Posted by on Apr 21, 2016 in Bulgaria | Comments Off on A Long Day but Well Worth It

A Long Day but Well Worth It

This morning came early with a 6:30 breakfast and 7:30 departure for training with the team from Sliven. The drive was 180 km and nearly 2 hours. A lot of wrestlers got some extra shut-eye on the drive but Coach Mike, Coach Jon, Coach Tony and Anthony spend the trip testing each other’s knowledge of the NCAA and world wrestling scenes and talking about the differences in philosophy between the Bulgarian and US wrestling systems. We were greeted at Sliven by an incredibly friend coaching staff and one of the most beautiful wrestling...

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Squaring Off Against the Bulgarian National Champions

Posted by on Apr 20, 2016 in Bulgaria | Comments Off on Squaring Off Against the Bulgarian National Champions

Squaring Off Against the Bulgarian National Champions

Today we scheduled a trip to Dimitrovgrad for a scrimmage against their local freestyle team, the reigning two-time national champions, and another team from Haskovo. Our host teams made the event an amazing experience for us with a professional referee, a gymnasium crowded with fans, and gifts of Bulgarian singlets for the kids and Bulgarian warm up sets for the coaches. We gave each of their wrestlers a team t-shirt when we shook hands before they wrestled. In addition to a wonderful atmosphere at the scrimmage, we had the chance to wrestle...

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Making new friends

Posted by on Apr 19, 2016 in Bulgaria | Comments Off on Making new friends

Making new friends

Our first stop for today was freestyle wrestling practice. We started with a long warm up that included far more and more advanced gymnastics than our kids are used to but they were game, as always, and joined right in. Peter Del Gallo and Zack Elowitch looked like they had been doing Bulgarian warm ups their whole life when they each snapped off a cartwheel to a back flip without hesitation. After a strong warm up we moved to a series of drill matches or play wrestling with our wrestlers switching partners among the Bulgarian team. It was...

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Our first taste of wrestling

Posted by on Apr 19, 2016 in Bulgaria | Comments Off on Our first taste of wrestling

Our first taste of wrestling

The sun rises on our second day in Bulgaria. Everyone slept well last night and feels refreshed for a busy and exciting day. The hotel served us a delicious traditional breakfast with eggs, feta cheese, cucumbers and tomatoes. The adults had espresso and the kids drank tea. We have two practices scheduled with the Vasil Levski team – freestyle this morning at 10 am, and Greco this afternoon at 5pm. We will also have the honor of meeting Peter Delev’s coach this evening at our team dinner. This afternoon we will have a guided tour...

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A Packed First Day

Posted by on Apr 18, 2016 in Bulgaria | Comments Off on A Packed First Day

A Packed First Day

After 20 hours of travel and being awake for more than 30 hours with just a few winks on airplanes, buses and in airports, the Casco Bay Elite team has wrapped up their first day in Bulgaria. And what a first day it was. The trip was smooth but tough on the youngest members of our group. The long travel made them exhausted and travel sick but they pushed on and stayed positive. After arriving in Sofia we traveled to Plovdiv in two rented VW vans with beautiful views of farmland, forests and the snow capped Rhodope Mountains from the highway....

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