USA Greco

One Camp Down, Three to Go: Haze Gives Progress Report On Life as a Greco World Teamer

sam hazewinkel, 2018 us greco-roman world team
Sam Hazewinkel -- Photo: John Sachs

Following his World Team Trials win last month, Sam Hazewinkel (55 kg, Sunkist) intimated that he was hoping to take on a leadership role as the summer training phase peered into view. It has only been one camp so far for the 2018 US Senior World Team, and sure enough, Hazewinkel’s name is popping up as an athlete who stepped up in Eagle Creek and from whom more is expected — this despite staying at the initial camp for just one week out of the scheduled two. In addition, US National Team head coach Matt Lindland seemed impressed with his 55’er’s disposition in Oregon, having this to say in the latest Report

“He’s a head coach at a university (Oklahoma City University),” began Lindland. “He knows what it takes to be a leader. He’s a father, a husband, he leads in many capacities and areas of his life. His career is about leading a team. Sam brings a lot to that, and Adam (Coon) does, too, but it’s in a different way.”

Hazewinkel, aka “The Legacy” thanks to having the distinction of being the son and nephew of two former Greco-Roman Olympians, is just trying to manage the water’s current as he preps for the World Championships and his first season as a head coach. The first World Team camp was the first step in this process, albeit an important one given what the squad’s time in the Pacific Northwest was intended to represent.

As we have covered on this platform practically ad nauseum, the “Base Training Camp” was designed to provide a robust foundation for functional strength — as well as foster a sense of cohesiveness among the athletes. Since both of these concepts are right in Hazewinkel’s wheelhouse, it seemed only natural to get his perspective on how things have been unfolding for him in the early going.

Sam Hazewinkel — 55 kg, Sunkist

5PM: The much-talked-about Eagle Creek camp was an opportunity for you to get to know some guys who you maybe didn’t know so well beforehand. You’re entering into all this pretty much automatically taking on a leadership role. Did that add to your anticipation level prior to and during the camp in Oregon?

Sam Hazewinkel: Absolutely. I was excited about meeting the guys and kind of seeing where Greco has changed, but I was really excited about being a leader on the Team. I’m in a unique spot where I get to be an athlete and a coach at the same time. It was fun having the chance to listen in on the stuff I used to complain about that I understand now, and trying to point it out without being the traitor in the group (laughs). It was a unique place to be in. The guys knew it, too. They’re not idiots, they get it.

It was a lot of fun — except for the runs. I had never been last on runs and I got beat on every run. (Adam) Coon was taking me out. I used to be like Dalton Roberts, you know? Going hard every run, being up at the front. So that was kind of hard for me, my pride was a little hurt. On the second day I was like, You guys start, I’m going to stretch for a second more. I’m going to wait for you guys to start to run, that way I have a reason for being behind you with everybody passing me 100 yards in (laughs).

That was new for me and it was hard for me to fight that. Mentally, it’s a different kind of battle and I’m used to winning those. But it was fun. There were some surprises for me. It was interesting because we have a whole bunch of different characters on the Team. They’re from all over and they haven’t all been D1 (NCAA Division I). On the freestyle side, everyone has wrestled at the D1 level. You have a Henry Cejudo every once in a while who didn’t. But all the guys on the freestyle team this year did, and all the guys when I was on the (freestyle) team did. In Greco, it’s not that way. We have guys from all over.

It was unique to see the different points of view. You have the Army guys who just jumped in the Army, you have the guys who didn’t do D1, a couple of D1 guys, and a couple of young guys in there. The dynamic is a lot different for a World Team than I’m used to, but it’s a lot of fun. It adds a lot of life to it because not everyone is doing what you might expect, which made the team-building part of it interesting. You just don’t know how people are going to react but it really brought the Team together.

Like everybody, I was trying to figure it out when they said we weren’t going to wrestle. But I loved it. I wouldn’t change a thing. If we did the camp again I wouldn’t say, Let’s add wrestling this time. I thought it was good for the guys. It kind of threw a curveball into the group and we were all trying to figure it out. You could tell that the older guys who have been around bought into all of the different stuff right away. The younger guys, it’s harder for them to buy in right away. They’re trying to figure it out still.

I think it was good. It was good for everyone. You got to see how we would all react to something new. It was a growing kind of thing, and if I was younger, I don’t know if I would have bought in the same. I would have thought it was kind of crazy and that I should be on the mat wrestling. Nowadays, I’m like, Yeah! Alright, I’m alright with that. Let’s just recover and do cardio. I like that a lot more nowadays. So, I got to see it from the other angle there.

5PM: How did your body respond to the strength-and-conditioning curriculum that involved the new core program we saw some footage of?

Hazewinkel: I really loved it. We got to do a new core workout that I had never seen before, never done before, and I brought it back with me. I’m teaching it to my guys and I’m really hoping the guys on this Team bought into it. I know at the start we were all a little questionable about it because it was a little different. But I decided before camp once I knew that there wasn’t going to be any wrestling that I was just going to buy into everything. I’m only there for a week. I’m going to buy into everything, try to figure it out and really jump in with both feet. And by the end of camp my core was way stronger, which usually in a week, that doesn’t happen. I start running and a week later it’s not like I feel like I’m a great runner yet, I’m still getting my running legs underneath me. But my core fell right back to where it was in college, so I’m a firm believer in it now. I’m hoping the guys realized that, too, and figured it out. I think they did, but I’ll have to meet up with them next week in Vegas and see who is still doing it.

5PM: The World Team was split up into three groups during training sessions according to the respective days athletes are competing at the World Championships. For instance, your group consisted of the other athletes who are going the same day as you. This is a different twist.

Hazewinkel: Yes, it is. It was interesting. I still don’t really know how I feel about it. On the one hand, you’re dividing the guys up; on the other, you’re getting them used to the guys on their day (of competition in Budapest), which for the Olympics, we didn’t do that. I was the same day as Jordan (Burroughs) and Jared Frayer. I worked out with Frayer everyday, and Jordan…I didn’t work out with him very much. But he’s Jordan, everyone’s excited to be the same day as Jordan.

I kind of liked that part of it, getting to know the guys on your day. I liked the idea of trying to be a leader for them, trying to get them going, motivate them. If he (US National Team head coach Matt Lindland) hadn’t done that, I don’t know if I would have spent the time to figure out the guys who are on my day. I would have just tried to get to know them all, you know? So, that’s the other side of it. I definitely tried to get to know my group better than everybody, although I still tried to get to know the rest of the Team.

But I don’t know. I am still a little curious about it, curious to see how it works. That being said, we did some stuff with it that I really liked. Every morning, it was one group’s turn to make breakfast and another group’s turn to clean up, and the other group it was their day off. I liked that, it made you work as a group. You had to plan it out ahead of time, whereas when it is everybody, you kind of get the guys who do the same stuff everyday and the other guys don’t do anything. Usually, you’re okay with that. They’re not awake in the morning so I’m not worried about them cleaning up, but this way they had to. Parts of it I really liked. It made us stronger in our groups.

But like I said, I don’t know. As a Team, I am curious. I am curious to hear Coach’s thoughts on it, I plan on picking his brain when this is done to see what he liked, what he didn’t like. It’s kind of funny: I’m trying to buy in, and at the same time, I’m trying to see it as a coach so I am curious to get his thoughts on it and see if they match my own. There is going to be some stuff that he sees because he’s not in a group. I’m in a group, so I might not see it. I’m excited about it.

5PM: For you, Oregon was one week and then you had to leave to go run a camp. Then after that, you came home and you had to deal with your wisdom teeth, catching up with your family, and so forth. Has this all been a sort of whirlwind the past few weeks?

Hazewinkel: Yeah, it has been nonstop. On the one hand, it’s good. I’m too busy to get caught up in anything or worry about anything. I just have to move onto whatever is next. The next thing is due, let’s get to work. On the other hand, I would like to kick back and enjoy it more, and spend a little more time on coaching. That’s the only part of this I really don’t like, just because it’s my first year being a head coach. The part of me that wants to do everything right and do it perfectly results in finding myself anxious about, What do I have due? What do I have coming up, what do I have to be on top of? Because like with anything, you know you’re going to forget some stuff, but it’s different when it all falls on you and there are other people involved.

It’s one thing when you’re training and something falls on me and it’s my fault. Then it’s like, Alright, I affected myself and I learned from it. It’s a whole nother thing when other guys are depending on you. I know I made a big mistake last year at UCO (University of Central Oklahoma). I messed up on the weights. I don’t know if you know exactly how the NCAA works, but you weigh in and it tells you what the lowest weight is you can make and you’re only allowed to lose so much per day. I figured everyone’s weight out and what they needed to make, but I didn’t think about changing the fat charts. So I told everyone, Hey, this is what you have to weigh, this is where you need to be if you want to make this weight. Everybody got to their weights and they weighed in. But a bunch of them, the way it worked out, had to miss the first tournament. It was the one tournament at home in Oklahoma and a bunch of them couldn’t make their weights on that day yet. They had to bump up — like our 133 pounder wrestled 141 but weighed in at 133.2 so he could stay on track to make 33. It was tough on them, but it was my mistake. It was nothing they did, it was all me. I did the math wrong and they suffered the consequences for it.

It worries me now that I am going to make a mistake like that which affects the team. That’s the only part of this I don’t like. It makes me anxious that I am going to miss something. But so far I haven’t. So far I have been on top of it. I think the fact that I am worried about it is a good thing, it’ll keep it from happening. But at the same time, who wants stress? You want to get rid of stress in your life, you always compete better without the stress. That’s the only bad side, I would say. Otherwise, I am loving it. It’s a blast. I’m staying busy. I am doing what I love. I get to coach and wrestle. Thank you to my administration for working with me.

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