Bobby Ledbetter of Twin City Used Car Sales recently helped Fort Payne’s youth wrestling program in a massive way by lending the team a new home to practice in.
The team struggled throughout their season to share limited practice space at Fort Payne High School before Ledbetter lended them a building he owns on Chitwood Ave. SE that wasn’t being used.
“Before, we were at the mercy of the high school,” youth wrestling coach Matt Couvillion said. “It was a great foundation for us to be in and we love being at the high school when we’re allowed to be there, but we’re not affiliated with the school’s program in any form. If any other program’s schedule got bumped due to weather or anything, our practice schedule got bumped too, so it just worked out better for us to get out of everybody else’s way and have our own building.”
The team’s new practice facility is just big enough to fit a few wrestling mats in and is a big improvement on their previous practice situation.
“Fortunately, I’m a personal friend of Bobby’s,” Couvillion said. “He’s always scratched my back whenever I needed it, so I asked him in a favor and we worked out a deal. He was generous enough to lend us this building on a handshake.”
Ledbetter was also generous enough to not charge any rent to the team, which is a non-profit organization.
“All he asked is for us to help pay for power when we can and for everyone to come to Twin City and buy a car.” Couvillion said with a laugh.
With permission to use the new building, team coaches Beau Wilson, Tim Cowart, Justin Manning, Mike Jones, Couvillion and other helpers loaded up their mats, set up their new home on Jan. 15 and had their first practice there the following night.
Couvillion said the young wrestlers, who range from fourth to eighth graders, fell in love with the new venue almost immediately.
“We’ll have as many as 53 kids here every practice,” Couvillion said. “Here we’re able to split the kids up and do a lot more hands-on training and they get to practice within their own age group a lot more here. The kids are really excited to have a place that they can call theirs. We’re getting a Powerade machine put in and they get to pick all the flavors, so they’re really excited about our new home for youth wrestling.”
The team’s practice last Thursday had a rough start as they didn’t have power in their new facility.
Instead of canceling though, the team lived up to their motto “never surrender” and used car lights and spotlights to get a solid practice in before their South Region Championship Tournament Saturday at Southside High School where they had 11 kids earn top-four finishes in their weight class.
Lucas Hale won the Novice 130-pound class and Carson Miller won his 150-pound class. Hale went 3-0 with all three win coming by pinfall in 50 seconds or less while Miller went 2-0.
Brigden Snyder placed second in the Novice 100-pound class with a 4-1 record and Brody Barksdale placed second in his 120-pound class with a 3-1 record on the mat.
After dropping his quarterfinals bout, Parker Wilson won five straight matches to place second in his 85-pound class and finished the day with a 6-1 record.
Carter Blalock used a similar route to place second in his 75-pound class and went 5-1 for the day.
Carson Miller and Cooper Hilyer both placed third in their weight classes while Parker Gonders and Vaughn Goggans placed fourth in theirs to round out the Wildcats’ top-four finishers.
The team has its youth state tournament coming up this Saturday at Vestavia Hills High School.