Coach Ben Askren on funding the Badger RTC

TomM
By TomM May 11, 2018 12:48

Coach Ben Askren on funding the Badger RTC

Coach Ben Askren on funding the Badger RTC

Abigail Ruckdashel | Friday, May 11, 2018

Recently writer Abbie Ruckdashel had the opportunity to sit down with Badger Regional Training Center (BRTC) Head Coach Ben Askren for Wisconsin Wrestling Online (WWO) and discuss the current BRTC fund raising effort. What follows is Abbie’s report on that discussion.

In the last week, The Badger Regional Training Center has launched a “50k in 25 days” Challenge. The goal of this fundraiser is to have enough funds to bring more athletes on the hunt for the Olympic dream to Wisconsin. Newly appointed Badger RTC Head Coach, Olympian, 2x National Champion, Bellator Champion and Wisconsin native, Ben Askren, discussed this fundraiser in the interview below.

WWO: What is the primary goal of this fundraiser?

Ben Askren: It is the initial kick-off fundraiser. Our goal is [for the Badgers] to be the top team in country. A large, important part of that is supporting a Regional Training Center for our athletes to train. We need 4-6 resident athletes by the year 2020, and we are going to need money to get them here.

WWO: Why 4-6?

Ben Askren: Well, there are six Olympic weight classes and we figure we need them all covered, as the other top programs do. Penn State has more than that. Plus, we believe this is a number we can sustain.

WWO: Who can donate to the fundraiser?

Ben Askren: We want anyone and everyone to donate. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Even 25 or 50 bucks goes a long way.

WWO: How can people donate?

Ben Askren: Just go to Badgerrtc.com. There are three buttons for $25, $50 and $100 amounts. There is also a button individuals may use to donate any other random amount.

WWO: Why is it so important to have a strong RTC?

Ben Askren: Having multiple people training for the Olympics can give young athletes from around the state someone to look up to and see what they want to be someday. It really is gigantic for the entire state. The whole state can get behind the athlete, as a Badger or not. An Olympic medal is the pinnacle of the sport, and if we have Wisconsin trained talent reaching that level, it would be a huge boost.

WWO: Do you have an idea of the athlete(s) you would hope to bring here?

Ben Askren: Most everyone is tied up this spring. We would look for individuals who have a relationship with the coaching staff. I’m hoping perhaps for Seth Gross (NCAA Champion at South Dakota State). He wrestles with a similar style to me. Bottom line, we want anyone looking to make Olympic dreams become reality. Some guys around the nation are happy with a world ranking of 5 to 10 and that’s fine, but it’s easy to lose ambition. We aren’t seeking those guys. We want guys willing to train their butts off. Long term, we are hoping to house athletes who will be Wisconsin Badgers and then stay at home to train to make the Olympics. A lot of Minnesota guys stays in Minnesota. Iowa guys stay in Iowa, Oklahoma State guys stay in Stillwater. Ohio guys stay in Ohio. You get the picture. Most of them are high caliber athletes. We have those in Wisconsin. We just need to have somewhere they want to stay train to reach the highest level.

WWO: What is the goal of the RTC program?

Ben Askren: It’s simple. The goal is to help athletes achieve dreams, Olympic teams, world teams etc. I was able to do it, but we want Wisconsin guys to stay in Wisconsin and make their dreams happen. I was in Missouri and I stayed there, solely for the reason they were able to help pay for me to stay. Bottom line is, guys will stay where they feel comfortable and excited to achieve their full potential and that takes money. If we can do that, it will catapult the intensity of Wisconsin wrestling. We need guys training full time in Madison. We need the kids to see that the guy from the Badger RTC got a medal and tell themselves “I can do that too”. Example, kids in Iowa and Oklahoma Idolize John Smith. Wisconsin hasn’t had a hometown hero like that in years. We need someone who trains here and makes the Olympics in Freestyle or Greco.

WWO: Anything else Wisconsin Wrestling fans should know?

Ben Askren: It’s apparent, across the country, every successful college program has a successful RTC program. Wisconsin is heading in the right direction, but those two things go together. Now, we have a chance to make it happen, but the reality is we must raise money if we want to be competitive.

Support the Badger Regional Training Center HERE

TomM
By TomM May 11, 2018 12:48