Postseason on the mind for Ferndale High wrestling program

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published January 24, 2018

 Ferndale High wrestlers Donovan Pitts-Reed, left, and Zoser Little take part at a recent practice. Both are captains of the team along with Matthew Ballard. Ferndale will compete in a Division 2 district tournament in February.

Ferndale High wrestlers Donovan Pitts-Reed, left, and Zoser Little take part at a recent practice. Both are captains of the team along with Matthew Ballard. Ferndale will compete in a Division 2 district tournament in February.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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Ferndale High coach John Bassier has been around the sport of wrestling for a long time.

At Ferndale alone, he has coached for more than 45 years.

With all his experience, there are plenty of techniques and nuggets of information that Bassier can share with wrestlers.

But for all he has to offer, perhaps the most effective way Bassier can impact young wrestlers is to have them look across the room at their peers, in particular the veterans.

As impressive as some of their records may look these days, it wasn’t always that way.

“They’re seeing the older kids have success, so that’s always a good thing,” said Bassier, who also praised his assistant coaches Michael Crossley and Kody Crocker. “They can see, and I keep preaching to them, that it’s a long road. You’re in a varsity world as a freshman, and you’re (going to) struggle this year at times. … They can see that if they stick with it, keep improving and working hard, the successes will become more common down the road.”

Three of the wrestlers that freshmen can observe this season are team captains Donovan Pitts-Reed, Matthew Ballard and Zoser Little. Pitts-Reed is a junior, with Ballard and Little both in their senior seasons.

All three of those wrestlers have also suited up for the school’s football team. Bassier said there has been a great relationship between those two sports at the school for many years.

“I know that many of the college coaches and even many of the pro football coaches, they will look at a wrestler right away, if he’s been a high school wrestler or a college wrestler,” Bassier said.  “They really see the correlation in the footwork, the agility, the strength, that willpower. That business of standing up for yourself.”

As for what can be accomplished for Ferndale on the mat, the culmination of the season isn’t too far off. Individual district and regional tournaments are in February, and those who can get past them earn their way to the finals at Ford Field in March.

“If we stay healthy, I have great hopes,” Bassier said. “The district competition and the regional competition gets very ferocious. You (got to) be ready physically and mentally. … As far as individuals go, I’m hoping we’ll have four or five, maybe more, regional qualifiers, and then we’ll go from there.”

Qualifying wrestlers for the finals can be considered another added perk for a job Bassier has given so much of his life to.

“I do enjoy working with young people, and of course I love Ferndale — been here my whole career,” Bassier said. “The kids and the competition, it’s the main drive.”

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