20 year-old Ben Richards, the Darton Wrestler who died in September
James Hicks, Head Wrestling Coach
Darton wrestlers practicing
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -
The Darton College wrestler who died after collapsing during practice two months ago has become an inspiration for his teammates.
The team is dedicating the new season to Ben Richards. They say they could have their best season ever.
Tumbling on the mats, and overcoming adversity is this team's mantra.
"We have some great kids and some talented kids, and I think we're poised to have a real good season. Maybe our best season ever," said James Hicks, Head Wrestling Coach.
A strong sentiment after wrestlers lost their 20 year-old teammate Ben Richards in September after he collapsed during a five mile run. But the coach knows Richards continues to live on through the team.
"We have quite a few guys that are dedicating it to him. They have relayed to me throughout the whole situation that they're gonna try to be more like him in their lives, they way the live their lives," Hicks said.
The first and second teams were set to have a match Thursday night, but canceled after some teammates suffered ankle sprains, knee sprains and shoulder injuries during their first tournament in South Carolina last weekend.
"You build relationships with these kids and you don't want anything to happen to them and when it happens it definitely affects your everyday life," Hicks said.
The team continues to run their usual indoor routines and follow traditional practice methods. But they haven't had an outdoor practice since Richard collapsed.
"You know...we definitely are always looking to make changes and do things better," said Hicks.
He said the interim president of Darton College has made athlete safety a top priority.
"There are times that I had to, you know, maybe pull a little bit of strength from them. And they helped me with that, and maybe they pulled some from me. But we all still got through this situation or we're still working to get through it, and we're hoping to have a good season this year," he said.
He said wrestling is a rough sport, but he says parents, students and athletes should not worry about the safety of his team.
The Darton team has 40 wrestlers. Hicks said they're all fired up for a great season, especially the sophomores. The team will have a match in Orlando at the University of Central Florida on November 16th. Their next home match will be on December 4th.