On Saturday February 27th, Parkside High School will host 2A/1A Individual Wrestling Tournament. Burt Cashman is the Rams head coach and continues to work to elevate the sport on the Eastern Shore.
Pencek: How special is having this tournament at Parkside?
Cashman: It is special. I think it is something that is going to bring recognition to Parkside High School. I feel like it is something that will be very convenient for our kids. I am hoping it will give our kids an advantage because we won’t have to travel as far. They will have home scales and they will have a home crowd environment.
Pencek: You have an energetic atmosphere for your home matches. Do you have control over that this weekend or does the state take over for running the tournament?
Cashman: This tournament will be run on three mats so we can’t use the spotlight and we can’t dim the lights. The tournament atmosphere is a little bit different than dual meet atmosphere. In a dual meet it’s just Parkside against a another team. In a tournament atmosphere you are going to have three mats. You are going to have three matches going on at the same time. There are going to be 21 teams here but it will be different than a dual meet.
Pencek: How does it look for your wrestlers this weekend?
Cashman: The hope is because it is here that the kids will be motivated and will be competing extra hard to qualify for regionals. Also when they are wrestling, the home crowd, the home gym atmosphere will give them an advantage. I feel last year we were respectable in the region and I feel this year we have some seniors and upper classman that could surprise some people and certainly some younger guys that did qualify for states last year that we’re expecting to go through. I think Parkside will be well represented this year in the regional tournament.
Pencek: Is there anything you are doing now that is different from the regular routine of the regular season?
Cashman: We practice in a different location during the post-season. It gets us away from the distraction of practicing here at school. It’s also nice to have other schools come in and work out with you. Our kids seem to get a better workout in that environment. We take advantage of that opportunity and that is something different than what we do during the regular season.
Pencek: As for you, when did you realize that wrestling was your sport and you might want to do something with it long term?
Cashman: This is my 20th season coaching wrestling. I coached in Pennsylvania for 11 years. I coached in Delaware for a few years. This is my second year coaching here. It’s something I have really grown a passion for. It is a sport I enjoyed when I was younger. I really didn’t see the benefit of it until I got older and instill the benefit in the guys I coach.
Pencek: You attended Salisbury University. Prior to their elimination of the wrestling program did you go there with the intent to wrestle?
Cashman: No I didn’t. My intention was to play baseball. I tried out for the baseball team and I didn’t make that so I played football.
Pencek: You have roots in Pennsylvania which is a state with a strong wrestling tradition. Is that something you are trying to bring to the Eastern Shore?
Cashman: Certainly, wrestling is a little bit different down here. You don’t have the club teams, the off-season programs that you have on the Western Shore and in Pennsylvania. That’s a main difference. It’s the mentality. The mentality is a little bit different. What I’m trying to do is bring that Pennsylvania type mentality into the sport down here and get these kids to understand it’s important.
Pencek: What would say since you have been at Parkside is your highlight?
Cashman: Overcoming the loss of our seniors the last couple of years. We seem to lose a lot of kids to graduation and then the following year we’re still able to be competitive. Last year we lost six kids and this year we were still able to be competitive. That’s been nice but also establishing a youth program in the community and I’m hoping that’s something that takes off in the next couple of years and boost wrestling in Salisbury. That will eventually benefit all of the schools.
Pencek: How is that being received?
Cashman: We had 50 kids this year. Most of them stuck with it. We had a couple of tournaments and they did well. It was a good year for the first season.