Q&A with Randall Balch, TX/USA Wrestling’s New Chairman
Randall Balch is the newly elected Texas/USA Wrestling Chairman and he graciously allowed American Wrestler to pick his brain on a few topics. Balch’s wrestling background started as a competitor in South Carolina, where he was a 4 year letterman who competed at the State level each year.
Randall also spent an impressive 27 years as a teacher and Wrestling coach at the High School & Junior College level in South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and finally Texas. He started 2 High School programs from scratch. His career record is 253-142 at the High School level. And that’s not all, in addition to coaching he also officiated for 25 years as a High School referee and has held several Tournament Director positions, most currently Tournament Director for Women’s UWW Cadet and Junior World Team Trials and a past Tournament Director for the Pan American Continental Championships and Olympic Qualifier.
Randall was nice enough to answer some of our questions and fill us in on some of his goals as Chairman.
AW: In your opinion what are the most important lessons that wrestling teaches? And how do you implement those values into your coaching?
RB: Discipline, work ethic, and humility
– Discipline – we set a goal, whether it be weight or academics, and don’t accept less than meeting that goal – and there are consequences for failing to meet them
– Work Ethic – We set a goal of pushing to improve every day – don’t settle for a specific number of repetitions, do 1 more!
– Humility – when you win, you’ve done your job/ met your goal/ achieved your expectation – no reason to celebrate for doing what is expected! Win with class, lose with dignity.
AW: Congratulations on being elected TX/USA State Chairman. What are your goals for TX/USA during your term as Chairman?
RB: The 2 chairmen before me have done a great job of putting the state on the right track after a few “bumps in the road”. I want to find a way to continue the journey and get the best wrestlers in Texas to national and international events so we can show the rest of the country what a special group we have in Texas! Years ago, when Texas went to tournaments, people would look at the bracket and see they had Texan and would think it was going to be an easy match- I want them to worry about stepping on the mat with us!
We have over 11,000 wrestlers in high schools across the state, but only 5,000 wrestlers from 6-18 years old wrestling as members of TX-USA Wrestling. We need to build on this number!
We are building a great relationship with USA Wrestling and the international organization UWW. But not everyone wants to wrestle Freestyle and Greco. We need to develop the mindset that regardless of styles; folkstyle, freestyle or greco, Texas is a state to be respected. The dream of an NCAA program in Texas is not as far off as many people think. We have to develop that relationship as well.
AW: Will you continue to officiate during your term as State Chairman?
RB: As much as possible… I will probably spend most of the spring trying to find ways to add to our numbers and building relationships throughout the state – there is too much region vs region and not enough combined efforts to improve wrestling. School or club vs school/ club instead of improving techniques and sharing ideas.
AW: How do we get existing Texas High schools to add wrestling?
RB: This doesn’t really fall under USA Wrestling and my role as Chairman, but the answer is relatively simple…
Now that we have a weight management system in place, the days of drastic weight cutting are gone. Highlighting to students the sensible maintenance of weight as opposed to “Old School” cutting is important.
There is also a national discussion on creating an optional uniform because many are turned away from our sport when they are told about wearing a singlet; a tight fitting shirt and “fight shorts” is being discussed.
The 3rd topic to discuss with schools is the role Football players can have in growing our middle to upper weights – I have long told football coaches I have worked with that a 250- 260 pound lineman that can MOVE is better for the team than a 300 pound lineman that can’t get in a stance! At 15-18 years old, being that large is often times not healthy for the young person and a DIET, not weight cut and a greater focus on healthy living will benefit both sports, but more importantly, benefit the young person!!
Once we get these messages across, I think the number of programs will grow – we have almost 200 programs just in the DFW Metroplex! The cost of starting a program is significant, but the ling term benefits far outweigh the price.
AW: This is your 2nd year as the Head Coach at Frisco Wakeland, what can we expect to see from this year’s team?
RB: We have a great group of young men and women that have been working hard to build off the success of last year. Our boys finished 4th in our District tournament, 11th in our Region, but failed to score a point at State. Our girls also finished 4th at District, but finished 8th at Region, and 20th at State. We are looking to move up to podium status at each of these tournaments with both teams!
AW: Would you like to see the USA scrap folkstyle in favor for freestyle & Greco?
RB: It will never happen – too much emphasis is placed on folkstyle. Every country has their own style that is competed in their country; we need to realize and embrace the similarities within the styles and not focus on the differences. A single leg takedown scores in both folkstyle and freestyle; a head and arm throw scores in both folkstyle and greco; a trapped arm gut scores in freestyle and greco just like a trapped arm tilt scores in folkstyle. Yes, there are differences, but let’s focus on how to transition between styles!!
AW: Do you think the wrestling singlet hurts your ability to recruit new wrestlers? Are you in favor of a two piece option?
RB: As I mentioned earlier, there is the discussion of a two piece uniform. I am not sold on the idea, being old school myself, a singlet is part of what makes our sport unique. It might bring in some newer wrestlers to the sport, but ultimately I don’t see it being that much a barrier.
AW: Favorite Quote?
RB: “Once you have wrestled, everything else in life is easy.”
AW: Anything you will like people to know about you?
RB: I am open to meeting and talking about ways to improve wrestling in Texas, but don’t come to the table with only criticisms; be ready to offer solutions and be ready to get involved! This is the final question I have for everyone a- Is your criticism/ question/ idea one that is for the good of the sport as a whole, or are you interested in helping YOUR cause?