The Kingston Wrestling Club continues to produce provincial and national champions.
In 2018, Natalie Vecchio won a gold medal at the Canadian junior championships in Calgary, and Kingston’s Ameen Aghamirian captured gold at the U-Sport nationals while wrestling for McMaster University.
Last month in El Salvador, Connor Quinton won a bronze medal in wrestling at the Pan-American Championships.
“Every chance they get, they come back to help out with the younger athletes, and to me, that means everything,” said the club’s longtime coach Marcus Niemann, who oversees the organization with his wife, Ashley.
The club, based out of Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic High School, was formed in 1987, with the motto of “building strength, confidence and character.” It provides wrestling coaching for both recreational and competitive athletes.
“We teach our athletes how to win and how to lose with grace and dignity,” Niemann said.
“It’s not about winning and losing. It’s about working hard, learning from mistakes and just getting better and better. We’re open to everybody. We have athletes with different skill levels and abilities. We try to bring the best out of everyone who comes to us.”
Top-level coaching is a key to the team’s success. The club trains twice a week under the watchful eye of Marcus and Ashley Niemann, as well as Jason Howes and Ortenzio Vecchio, who coached his daughter Natalie to a national title.
Jonathan Vecchio continues to get better with the help of his dad, Ortenzio, and sister, Natalie.
The 18-year-old student at Holy Cross Secondary School won a silver at the 2019 Ontario junior tournament and came in second at nationals as well. He also won a bronze at the Ontario high school wrestling championships.
“I love this club,” he said.
“It means everything to me. It’s my second family. I’ve known Marcus and Ashley for many years. I’ve developed a real tight bond with everyone in the club. Everyone helps everyone. For a small club, we’ve enjoyed tremendous success.”
Annie Niemann, the daughter of Marcus and Ashley, hopes to one day be a future Olympic champion.
The eight-year-old recently won the Canada East championship for her age group in Orillia.
Her goal is to one day represent Canada on the international and Olympic stages.
“That would mean so much to my family and friends,” said the Grade 3 student at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Separate School.
“I love wrestling. I have so much fun trying to pin my opponent. I’ve been learning so much about the sport. There’s skill involved but lots of technique as well. I plan to work as hard as I can. Hard work will get me to the Olympic podium. For me, that’s the ultimate goal.”