Fans of WWE-style professional wrestling will get a chance to see the action up close right in their home town of Glen Rock, when professional wrestlers will show off their moves Saturday night at the Glen Rock High School gym, in a fundraiser for the Glen Rock Junior Wrestling program.
“They’re setting up a ring – a real WWE ring – in the high school,’’ said Allisan Emes, who is the treasurer for the junior wrestling program’s board and who organized the fundraiser.
Emes said the program wanted to do a fundraiser mostly to raise awareness of the junior program, while also raising funds to help pay for expenses the program has. After selling her business a year ago, Emes is now a stay-at-home mom who does plenty of volunteer work, including serving as president of the Home School Association for Coleman School. She has a passion for fundraising, and wanted to help the junior wrestling program, in which her 7-year-old son, Johnny, participates.
Her experience in fundraising told her that people are looking for something fun to do, and so she needed to come up with an event that would get people intrigued. While brainstorming for fundraising ideas, her husband, Don, who attended Glen Rock High School and was a member of the wrestling team, remembered a professional wrestling event at the high school while he and Allisan were students there. Professional wrestling as a fundraiser seemed like a natural fit for the junior wrestling association.
So Emes began to do some research, and she came across a group called Fundraiser Wrestling, which puts on professional wrestling events as fundraisers. She contacted the Byrd School HSA, which does a professional basketball game with the Harlem Wizards as an annual fundraiser, to get some help with logistics, and also contacted Glen Rock Mayor Bruce Packer, to see if he would help support the event. The mayor turned out to have been a fan of professional wrestling when he was a boy, and he was eager to help out.
“He’s like, ‘This is awesome,’’’ Emes said of the mayor, who will be in the ring and part of the show.
Emes promoted the event by putting flyers on Facebook and hanging them up at stores around town. The various school HSAs helped out by sending out blast emails announcing the event as well, and kids in the junior wrestling program sold tickets (General admission tickets are $10, VIP tickets, which include a chance to go in the ring before the event and take pictures with the wrestlers, are $30).
The show begins at 7 p.m. and runs about two hours, Emes said. The Glen Rock Inn, which is sponsoring the event by donating some money to cover expenses, will host an after show event at the restaurant, she said.
David Schlett, the president of the junior wrestling association, said the program has 42 wrestlers, in grades 1-8, and aims to serve as a feeder system for the Glen Rock High School wrestling team, which is in its second year as a stand-alone program after more than a decade as part of a co-op program with Saddle Brook. The high school team is currently enjoying a successful season, having qualified for the state sectional playoffs, and many of the team’s varsity wrestlers came up from the junior program, Schlett said.
Schlett started the junior wrestling program in 2003, after his son and another boy approached him and asked him to get the high school to re-start a wrestling team, which had been dropped following the 2001 season. Schlett led the effort to re-start a team, and the Board of Education eventually did agree to restart the high school program, jointly with Saddle Brook. However, the board did not re-start the middle school program, which had been the feeder system for the high school. So Schlett started the youth program to get wrestlers introduced to the sport and prep them to wrestle in high school.
“I saw that there was a need for an outlet for the kids that wanted to wrestle,’’ he said.
He’s continued to run the program long after his youngest of three sons moved up to high school in 2006. He stays with it because he loves seeing the little kids confront their fears of going on the mat and wrestling another child, one-on-one, in front of a crowd.
“We just had an 8- or 9-year-old boy, he was crying, and we talked him into going out and giving it a shot,’’ Schlett said. “And he won! Seeing those kids persevere and get over these hurdles, I really enjoy that.’’
Tickets for Saturday’s event can be ordered by emailing the wrestling association at [email protected], Emes said. For more information on the junior wrestling program, visit their Facebook page, Glen Rock Panthers Jr. Wrestling.