Few things smell better than a brand new car. Except, of course, if you’re a physical education teacher and you just got a brand new wresting mat.
At least that’s what Victor Morales, a coach at Guillen Middle School, thought earlier this week as he took in the sights and scents of the new wrestling mats that were donated to the school by the Justin J. Watt Foundation.
“It’s beautiful,” Montes said. “This is going to be such a big help.”
Guillen and Magoffin middle schools received new wrestling mats thanks to the foundation created by J.J. Watt, the star defensive end for the NFL’s Houston Texans. The foundation provides funding for after-school athletic programs in underserved schools in Wisconsin and Texas.
To be eligible for the funding, schools must meet certain criteria to apply. Among them, schools must have planned or established after-school sport program, have more than 60 percent of students on the free or reduced-priced lunch program, have a need for uniforms, equipment and a need for funding for staff or transportation.
“This mat is a special blessing because before the wrestling team had to walk to Bowie and bring back the mats here. It would take away time from practice,” Montes said. “Now with our own mat we can invest more time on technique.”
Montes is proud of the mat and hopes it will inspires his students.
“It’s a beautiful color. The name ‘Guillen’ is written on it and that brings a sense of pride for the kids here,â€ Montes said. “I think we are going to have a better turn out this year than the previous years.”
For Magoffin, the new mat allows coach Samuel Samaniego to form the school’s very first wrestling team. Prior to receiving the donation, students had to wait until 4 p.m. and have transportation to Irvin High School to participate in wrestling.
“Now that we have a mat here it will be easier to recruit more students because now they can get started right after school. I think more students will be anxious to come out for wrestling because now they will feel like they are Magoffin Lobos,” Samaniego said.
More than a dozen students were quick to raise their hands when coach asked who was interested in joining the team.
Seventh-grader Brianna Casto hopes to join in the spring after not being able to wrestle at Irvin.
“I am interested in wrestling because my cousins are in it, and I like the sport,” Casto said. “I wasn’t able to make it since my mom works so it was hard to go over to Irvin and then back to my house. It was just too much of a hassle.”
Guillen students are pumped about the new addition to their school, especially since they won’t have to tote the mats over from Bowie.
“I’m excited for wrestling to start. I’m ready,” student Justin Davalos said. “We feel excited and proud of this school that has its own mat.”