United States national women's wrestling team coach Terry Steiner spent Jan. 4 training the Menlo-Atherton High School girls wrestling team with a clinic that also welcomed high school-age athletes from Sequoia and Woodside high schools, and others from the San Francisco, Oakland and Bakersfield area.
During the first half of the session, Steiner demonstrated offensive and defensive techniques with individual athletes from the crowd seated on the red mat of the M-A wrestling room. The girls then practiced the moves with one another.
Kiely Tabaldo, a freshman wrestler for M-A and a 2018 Pan American Wrestling Championships competitor under Steiner's coaching, said she appreciated the specific training on how to recover from being in a troubling defensive position.
"Defense in general is an area that is under-addressed," Steiner said. "There are always issues where wrestlers get caught under as they are trying to attack their competitor's legs and you have to go from a bad position to a good position."
"I think the training was really eye-opening," Tabaldo said. "We all got a new experience and benefited from learning things we may not have known about."
After three hours of wrestling and a lunch break, coaches and athletes listened to Steiner speak about his career trajectory and the pressure that comes with the sport on and off the mat.
"There are a lot of kids around here going through adversity and who don't know how to cope with it," said Philip Hoang, head coach of the M-A girls wrestling team. "It was interesting to bridge the gap between a high-level coach and why we are all doing this. We are trying to teach these kids life lessons with the hope that they learn to deal with adversity."
The athletes also asked Steiner about his experience at the Olympics, about pain management and how to overcome difficulties involving confidence.
"He reminded me why I'm doing this," Hoang said. "At his level, he's going to feel pressure to perform, but at the end of the day, it's about the athlete. You are here to support their goals."