One of two-time NCAA champion Cary Kolat’s legacies in wrestling is that he is one of the best wrestlers this country has ever produced, who failed to win an Olympic or World gold medal. For whatever reason, it seemed FILA had him blacklisted as a guy intentionally kept off the top step of the medal platform. But the two-time World medalist may leave a legacy off of the mat that affects the sport of wrestling as a whole on a much greater level. The young entrepreneur’s new business concept may permanently change the way many wrestlers learn the technical end of the sport. About a year ago, Kolat, 35, and partner John Guira started filming technique clips to put on a “one-stop-shop” internet site which shows wrestling technique. Anyone from young beginning wrestlers to advanced grapplers can go to Kolat.com to learn a wide array of moves, from start to finish. And they can do it at a level which fits them.
Over 1,200 technique clips are available at the click of the mouse to wrestlers, coaches and parents. So how is this playing out in wrestling rooms? Coaches are taking a computer or DVD player into the room and showing the short technique demonstrations on the wall during the teaching session of practice. Coaches can also e-mail their wrestlers a series of positions or steps to a move he wants them to work on before their next practice.
Kolat is quick to point out that the site is not replacing the valuable step of physically showing kids moves. Rather, it supplements that teaching in situations where a coach isn’t completely comfortable with a certain skill or position. “I think it will change wrestling. It’s not going to replace DVDs and VHS tapes. But I hope 10 years from now, people will say our team has really been impacted by that website. I hope it elevates the level of everybody out there. I hope it helps the dad who steps in and says he’ll coach the team,” Kolat said.
Kolat has been coaching youth and high school kids for five years. Four years ago, he made it into a business, starting Team Kolat. The 70-member wrestling club is based out Baltimore, Md. He found himself really needing proficiency at explaining and showing moves that a beginner could understand. And at the same time, teaching upper-level high school and college wrestlers to take their skills to another level. After giving some thought to being able to take that wide range of teaching to bigger groups of wrestlers, he experimented with showing some moves on You-Tube. Kolat.com was the end result of that. Users need to be a paid subscriber to access most portions of the site. Access to the site costs anywhere from $10 for a week, to $160 annually. But, you can use the site for free on a trial basis.
It’s extremely user friendly. Moves are extensively broken down. Kolat has it set up so a beginner can go in and learn how to do a particular takedown or escape from start to finish, or an advanced wrestler can find out how to handle a particular counter that an opponent is using to his high-crotch takedown. On a single-leg series, for example, there are over 75 video clips breaking down all facets of the move. “If you know nothing, you start at No. 1. If you’re skilled, you go to No. 12. You could be a dad at a tournament where your kid can’t stop a double leg. You can go to double-leg defense,” the four-time All-American said. “I can teach you just like I would teach you in a room. You can’t do that with a DVD.”
Kolat said the variety and extensiveness of moves on his site is what makes it such a good resource. “I have to teach all skills now, from beginners to really talented high school kids who can compete in college. You can only put 10-15 moves on (a DVD). Now, a dad can take the site and help his son learn the moves.”
The four-time Pennsylvania state high school champ also does one or two half-hour free clinics which are featured on the site each week. In addition, some practice sessions are also shown on the site. People can access these to get a flavor of his teaching style or find out how he runs parts of a practice for free as well.
Kolat said the response in the four months since the site has gone live has been even better than he had hoped. Including people using the site on a free-trial basis, Kolat.com has over 1,500 users. The 2000 Olympian promises there’s some other new exciting features that will be released on the site, and he’s waiting to make those public in the near future.
“It’s been a homerun, it’s been really good,” he said.