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Peterson uses sport to help others

Posted Friday, September 05, 2008 by Times Herald

Peterson uses sport to help others

Former Richmond wrestling star visits South America with group

Times Herald

• September 2, 2008

Brian Peterson picked up a new style of wrestling -- and a few Spanish phrases -- early in the summer.

Peterson, a 2007 Richmond graduate, traveled with Athletes in Action to Guatemala and El Salvador to wrestle in a tournament and teach the sport to children in the South American countries.

"Most of them couldn't really speak good English," Peterson said. "I ran a little bit of the clinics and I would show a move and speak, and they would have a translator translate what I was saying.

"We really got to know the people through the sport of wrestling and made connections with the people."

Peterson, who is entering his sophomore year at Minnesota, won the tournament, which was in San Salvador, El Salvador. He wrestled at 85 kilograms (about 187 pounds) despite weighing in at 75 kg. It was his first time wrestling freestyle.

"They didn't really have age groups; they just had men's and women's," Peterson said. "There were some young teenagers to some wrestlers older than me, like 20 and 21.

"All the kids were experienced and had been wrestling their whole lives. But it's not the only thing they do. A lot of them have to take care of their families."

The tournament was just a small part of the tour since Athletes in Action is a Christian group. The mission statement of the wrestling team is "To serve and glorify God in and through the sport of wrestling."

Peterson joined the group after former Olympian John Peterson addressed the Minnesota wrestling team. Brian Peterson was the only member of the team to join and said he was the only Division I wrestler to go on the trip.

"There were some high school wrestlers, some in college, some out of college -- it's not a real strict criteria," Peterson said. "They're just looking for guys to spread the ministry and the sport of wrestling."

Peterson said he enjoyed the trip and would like to go on others as well. He has his sights on a trip to Russia, where the wrestling is more competitive.

"Russians are arguably the best wrestlers," Peterson said.

Taking a trip like this was something that did not surprise Peterson's high school coach, Brandon Day.

"He's going to take everything out of the experience. He's just an all-around great kid. He takes advantage of every opportunity he can," said Day, who co-coaches with George Hamblin. "That's what Brian is all about and what we hope our program is all about. Brian sees the big picture.

"He knows that if the world is going to be a better place, he's going to have to be a positive person. A lot of young teenage kids don't get that."


  • Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or pcostanzo@gannett.com. View Costanzo's blog at www.thetimesherald.com/sports.
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