|The Winton Woods wrestling team with Coach Willertz (far left).|
January 6, 2010. Cincinnati, Ohio. As traditions go, the “3,000
Challenge” is a new kid on the block, started by
head wrestling coach Chris Willertz at Winton Woods High School
in Cincinnati, Ohio.
A SportsLeader coach since 2005, Willertz
arrived to Winton Woods last year to take on coaching
the Varsity wrestling team. He knew that building a winning
team requires an extra level of commitment in the players.
It takes conditioning, motivation, and that extra edge of skill
that comes from plenty of training—even over Christmas break.
most of all, building a winning team requires presenting a
challenge that will motivate young men to give their all.
needed a hook,” said Chris. “So we decided on a
challenge, a kind of rite of initiation, which so many
young men need.”
“But one day wasn’t enough—too easy. So, we
decided on three consecutive days, with 1,000 reps of different
exercises each day, a total of 3,000 in the end.
It was a play on the movie 300, but better,”
Inspiration + perspiration
He launched the idea to the players,
inviting them to participate on a completely voluntary basis. The
response was enthusiastic and wholehearted, and “3,000!” became a rallying
cry throughout the season—a reminder of the time when they
bonded while pushing themselves to the very limit.
This year’s 3,000
Challenge gathered 25 young men who completed a series of
strength and endurance exercises, ranging from running and lunges to
wrestling take-downs, spins, slams, lifts, and more. Along the way,
Coach Willertz constantly motivated them, speaking of manhood, willpower, virtue,
going above and beyond, and embracing sacrifice.
|Two members of the wrestling team practice their moves.|
While working out,
the boys were surrounded by inspiration; the walls of the
Winton Woods wrestling room happen to be painted with inspirational
quotes from coaches, athletes, emperors, and even ancient Greeks, like
this jewel adapted from Thucydides: “We must remember that all
men are much the same, but those that become the
best are those who are trained in the harshest wrestling
On the third day, both athletes and coaches sported
red face paint— appropriate for Winton Woods Warriors who had
just completed a rite of passage. The boys were congratulated
for their achievement, and all received Under Armour for completing
the training. Three wrestlers were awarded the Virtue = Strength
shirt for their extreme effort and fighting spirit.
man in tough times
In his final motivational talk (view on
YouTube links below), Coach Willertz encouraged the boys to strive
for the “extra edge” in wrestling and in life, and
to forge a new path of authentic manhood even if
they do not have good examples in their own lives.
The message was straightforward, realistic, and inspiring.
“It’s tough! You know
what, guys? Welcome to manhood! Welcome to manhood,” he said.
went on to talk about how SportsLeader is there to
help them meet the challenge of becoming a man even
when role models are lacking.
“You know people in your
lives who didn’t do what they were supposed to do,
and you know how you feel about it. The men
in your life probably have had some problems as well.
So what do you do? You go and develop yourself
so that you can be the man that God created
you to be. We’re here to help you make that
happen. But it’s only going to happen if you keep
training through difficult times,” he said.
The 3,000 Challenge really is
a training ground for the difficult times that are waiting
for them in life. Surviving those three days in the
wrestling room gives them a concrete experience of conquering adversity
with hard work. And the experience is a satisfying one.
“It really has become a badge of honor,” observed
View the YouTube videos of the Warriors in
training and of Coach Willertz’s final talk at these links: