Two coaches and 12 student-athletes participated in the first Oregon Girls Wrestling Cultural Exchange. This year's team traveled through three provinces of Canada and four U.S. states, visiting four universities that have womens wrestling teams.
The team included five wrestlers from HRVHS and coach Trent Kroll. The Eagle athletes were Emily Mitchell, Christine Marquez, Grace Miller, Anna Galbraith and Elena Kroll.
"The boys have had a Cultural Exchange opportunity through the Oregon Wrestling Association for almost 40 years. Why not start one for the girls?" said coach Kroll. "Thank you to coach Mike Simons, Cultural Exchange director of the Oregon Wrestling Association, for organizing the trip."
The team, led by coach Kroll and coach Chad Beatty of Forest Grove High School, first traveled to Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. At SFU, the team worked out with the girls’ provincial high school team of B.C. and attended sessions led by college coaches and Olympian Daniele Lappage. The team stayed with host families from the Coast Wrestling Academy in Vancouver. coach Kroll gave a huge thanks to coach Frank Mensah for hosting the team in B.C.
"Without Coach Mensah, this trip wouldn't have been possible,” coach Kroll said.
From B.C., the team traveled east toward Alberta staying in Golden, B.C., first with a quick side trip to a hot springs, Lake Louise and the Banff Gondola, where they got exposure to the beautiful Canadian Rockies. It was also the 150th anniversary of Canada Day.
After sightseeing, the team traveled to Edmonton, Alberta, where coach Owen Dawkins hosted the team at the University of Alberta. Once again, the team worked out with the provincial girl's wrestling team, this time from Alberta. In Edmonton, the team was able to experience the largest mall in the Americas and ride the largest indoor roller coaster at the West Edmonton Mall. After a team dinner at Olive Garden, coach Dawkins hosted the team at a hotel. "Thanks to coach Dawkins for all of his hospitality and hard work hosting Team Oregon," said coach Kroll.
After two wrestling sessions at the University of Alberta, the team headed to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and the University of Saskatchewan. Coaches Daniel Olver, Shane Bradley and Collin Hoeft hosted the Oregonians. Local wrestling families hosted the U.S. girls. After a couple of workout sessions, the team participated in an outdoor dual meet against the Saskatchewan Girls Wrestling Provincial team. Each of the girls had two matches. The weather was so nice that the mats were hot, so the rules had to be changed to include only takedowns with no mat wrestling. It was a great experience with a big crowd. "Thank you to the Saskatoon coaches for going above and beyond with providing host families and organizing the outdoor dual. It was a phenomenal experience for our team. It will be hard to ever forget the dual in the park,” said coach Kroll.
As the team headed south toward Montana from Saskatoon, they took a quick side trip to the Dinosaur Museum that hosted the largest T-Rex skeleton.
Once in Montana, after being questioned briskly at the Canadian border about why they were crossing at such an obscure point, the team headed toward Great Falls and the University of Providence.
At the University of Providence, formally University of Great Falls, the team met and participated in a session led by the university’s new women's wrestling coach, Tony DeAnda. The team also made it back in time to watch the Fourth of July fireworks in Great Falls over the Yellowstone River that night.
"Thanks to coach DeAnda and men's wrestling coach Caleb Schaffer for planning the stay and hosting us. It was perfect," stated coach Kroll.
On the way home to Oregon, the team spent the day at the Silverwood Amusement Park in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, and then stayed the night at a hotel in Spokane, Wash.
The team returned safely back to Oregon on July 6 after 12 days on the road.
"It was an epic trip,” said Kroll. “The four universities that we visited with women's wrestling teams and their coaches went above and beyond hosting us. I believe this is a trip that the girls won't ever forget. They were great ambassadors of the U.S.A., Oregon, Hood River and HRVHS.
“Additionally, I can't help but believe that they are better humans and wrestlers because of this experience,” he said. “I can't wait to see what we do next year for the second annual Oregon Girls Wrestling Cultural Exchange trip.”
In addition to the six who traveled to Canada this summer, the Eagles sent Adrian Ramirez to Japan on the Montana Wrestling Cultural Exchange team and Ryan Zeller to Russia after he qualified to be a part of the Oregon Wrestling Cultural Exchange team.