“What we’re attempting to do is get the SEALs and the wrestling community together to benefit each other,” Head Coach J Robinson stated. “We always talk about wanting to market our sport. This is a unique opportunity to promote our sport and the opportunities it affords.”
The idea of the Navy SEALs coming to Minnesota originated last spring at the national high school wrestling tournament when Robinson ran into a group of SEAL recruiters. In discussing the type of person needed to carry out special operations, the high rate of failure among soldiers training to be SEALs arose. Navy SEALs are, by nature, held to much higher standards than that of regular soldiers. However, the SEALs were having a difficult time finding people with the right type skill sets.
Based on his own experience as a college coach, Robinson presented the idea of focused recruiting. Citing the skills and characteristics required in wrestling, he particularly pushed the idea of recruiting wrestlers.
“I’ve always thought wrestlers would make ideal special operations soldiers because they already have a lot of the skill sets required,” he said. “Wrestlers pride themselves on discipline, sacrifice and dedication, hard work and the ability to function under duress. These values are all directly transferable to special operations.”
Over the last nine months, Robinson has worked closely with the SEALs to devise a strategy that would benefit both the Navy SEALs and the wrestling community across the nation. With final approval passed just last week, the plan will come to fruition next week with the SEALs coming to the University of Minnesota.
“They’re bringing the Trident Challenge to Minnesota because they want to kick it off in conjunction with the match between two of the top teams in the country,” Robinson said. “They are interested in the wrestling community in Minnesota and offering kids the opportunity to show they have what it takes to become a SEAL. Not many opportunities like this come along in life. This is one the wrestling community needs to take notice of and embrace.”
Describing it as an honor to have the U.S. Navy SEALs coming to Minnesota and specifically seeking out the wrestling community, Robinson said the only thing left is for the wrestling community to step up to the challenge.
“Some kids say they can become a SEAL,” Robinson said. “This event offers them the opportunity to prove it. We want the wrestling community to participate and see how they can do.”
If successful, Robinson realizes the impact the event could have on promoting the sport of wrestling as a vehicle for accomplishing bigger goals.
“Young kids out there who dream of being a Navy SEAL will want to go into wrestling. If you spend 10 years in wrestling with the objective of that helping you become a SEAL, then it fulfills a life-long goal.”
While the inaugural event to be held on Sunday is significant for both the wrestling community and the Navy SEALs, Robinson sees it as just the beginning of something that has the potential to become much bigger. He envisions a day when the Trident Challenge will be a national event that will attract the best high school wrestlers from across the country.
“In the entire wrestling community in the United States, 75,000 kids graduate a year. If we can produce just 200-300 SEALs a year, it would mean everything to the SEALs and it would mean everything to our sport. It could change the face of wrestling.”