Richard Atkinson loves wrestling.
He has coached the sport for more than 37 years and led the Steamboat Springs Pee Wee Wrestling Program for the past 13 years.
But in the past couple of years, he has noticed that young wrestlers from Steamboat are struggling to remain competitive with other areas in Northwest Colorado.
"The reason is clear: The other towns are offering wrestling year-round," Atkinson said.
To help Steamboat, a town with a long and rich wrestling tradition, keep up with the changing times, Atkinson and a group of other wrestling supporters will start a year-round club.
The Yampa Valley Wrestlers of Routt County is expected to begin its first official season this fall.
The nonprofit club will be open to elementary school, middle school and high school children from all parts of Routt County. Adults will be welcome to come out and take part in open divisions.
Atkinson has been selected as president of the club, which will be run by a board made up of Ann Brenner, Steve Caragol, Michelle Caragol, Mike Rossman, Thane Mahanna, Lisa Mahanna, Danny Armstrong and Clyde Iacovetto.
The club will meet for practices and travel to tournaments across the state on a regular basis.
Atkinson said the group will hold an informational meeting at 7 p.m. today at the Yampa Valley Electric Association building in downtown Steamboat. The meeting will explain the club and help the board determine the interest level in the community.
Atkinson said the club plans to compete in a fall Intermountain League, which includes teams from Moffat County, Leadville, Buena Vista, South Park, Granby, Kremmling, Summit County and Steamboat Springs.
The Yampa Valley Wrestlers are expected to participate in five tournaments from Oct. 30 to Dec. 5 for members from kindergartners through eighth grade.
The club also will compete in Denver at the Monster Match in November, the Who's Bad Classic in January, and the Rocky Mountain Nationals in March. Those tournaments are open to elementary school, middle school, high school and open-division wrestlers.
Atkinson said the club is going to continue the pee-wee programs within the club. Atkinson said he instructed 25 pee-wee wrestlers last season but has averaged much higher numbers in the past.
Atkinson said issues with practice facilities caused the drop last season, but that he has those issues worked out for the upcoming year.
The club will be seeking grants to help support its first season and will hold a fund-raiser this fall to help reduce the cost for wrestlers.
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