Last Day of Training, Saying Goodbye to New Friends

Posted on Apr 28, 2016 in Bulgaria

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 arrived. The majority of practice was spent with coaches showing techniques from standing and par terre and the wrestlers practicing and drilling them.

After practiceAs always, Coach Pavil and the other coaches were incredibly generous in walking around and explaining the finer points of each position. They spent a lot of time during the week working with our coaching staff so we could understand and feel the stuff they were showing. This generosity led to sore ribs for Coach Jon who learned the feel of a world class gut wrench and a sore neck for Coach Mike who was the victim of front headlock choke demonstrations by coaches at 3 different clubs.

The afternoon practice may have been the best of the week. The training was amazing, as always, but there was a great vibe in the room as Bulgarian and American wrestlers blended together almost like a single team. Kids gravitated to workout partners automatically and there were small groups talking or horsing around during breaks. After a 45 minute technique session, we had 45 minutes of play wrestling.

The kids worked for 45 minutes straight getting a feel for the techniques they learned during the week and taking time to work with each other specific positions and scores. One of the best match ups of the afternoon was Peter Del Gallo and Bulgarian National Champion Nikola Levenov sparring and learning from each other.

New FriendsAt the end of practice, Peter Delev suggested we put the kids through an American-style conditioning workout. The Bulgarian coaches were all for it so we did 10 minutes of sprints, burpees and other exercises. It was definitely a new experience for the wrestlers as our idea of conditioning is not part of their practice.

After practice the room was buzzing with people playing games, taking pictures and saying goodbye. They were incredibly welcoming hosts and great new friends.