Forty years ago then Smyrna High School teacher Buddy Lloyd was asked to start a recreational wrestling program for children. Over the years since then, Smyrna has become a powerhouse in terms of the wrestling talent in the state partially because of the Smyrna Little Wrestlers feeder program. Lloyd was honored by the group in January for what he started so many years ago.
Smyrna Little Wrestlers started out as a six-week season with 50 to 60 wrestlers, practicing one day a week. There was an end-of-season tournament followed by Lloyd handing out awards and certificates. Decades later the program has grown to having more wrestlers, more practices, and weekend tournaments from November until April.
"I'm very proud of the program," Lloyd said. "I'm very proud of the fact that I played a part in getting it started."
Lloyd said he didn't know that the group was going to honor him and instead thought they were going to recognize this year's wrestlers. Lloyd's son Clay and grandson CJ were in attendance, which meant a lot to Lloyd; CJ is a wrestler in the program.
Smyrna Little Wrestlers also announced that beginning this year, their scholarship would be renamed the "Buddy Lloyd" Smyrna Little Wrestlers Scholarship. Lloyd said this was quite an honor as well.
Lloyd said wrestling in Smyrna reached its crowning point this year with every level of Smyrna wrestling winning. The Smyrna High School varsity team won the Division I State and Henlopen Conference championships. The school had five individual state champions, the most in school history. Junior Varsity won their respective tournament. The middle school team finished their 11th straight undefeated season. And the winning continued at the Smyrna Little Wrestlers level.
"I've talked with coaches at other schools and they are fans of Smyrna Little Wrestlers and are in envy of this kind of feeder program," Lloyd said.
Lloyd said when he started the program, he thought it would grow over the years and it would help wrestlers gain experience. The fact the program has continued its success year after year, Lloyd contributed to the volunteers that took over the program.
The reins of the program have gone form Lloyd, to Mike Dulin, to former wrestlers like Brian Fletcher and Lee Pinder. These days Ginger Barkley, Jody Wilson, and Andy Gillan along with countless other volunteers are leading the way.
"The community has embraced Smyrna Little Wrestlers and continues to embrace it," Lloyd said. "Without the other volunteers, we couldn't do it."
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