U of R wrestler Kirk Ackerman has big plans
Since a very young age, wrestling has played a significant role in the life of University of Regina student-athlete Kirk Ackerman.
“My brother and his friend were wrestling and, being only a couple years younger, I wanted to do what they were doing too,” recounted Ackerman, 21, who first took to the mat some 15 years ago.
“I really liked it from the start and I had success at a young age, so it just followed from there. Going to the tournaments and hanging out with the older guys just felt good. I kept doing it and I really fell in love with the sport at a young age.”
Since being introduced to wrestling, Ackerman has competed at more provincial and national competitions than he can remember and has represented the prairies across the continent and in Central America.
Despite his passion for all-things wrestling, success in the sport hasn’t come easily for Ackerman, who has twice earned all-Canadian honours during his four-year tenure at the University of Regina.
“We usually [train[ six days a week,” explained Ackerman, who is pursuing a degree in kinesiology. “For the second semester, we’ll probably go seven days a week. We’ll practice at least once a day. Sometimes, we’ll have a morning technique section that will include running on the track, sprints; we’ll do ropes, chin-ups, push-ups – the whole nine yards.”
Although it takes a lot of hard work to excel in the highly competitive world of amateur wrestling – especially at the university level, Ackerman insisted – Ackerman is quick to emphasize how much the sport has meant to him over the years.
“This sport has been very important to my life,” he said. “It has made me who I am today. I don’t even know if I would be in university if it wasn’t for wrestling … You look back at who some of your friends were when you were in elementary and high school and what they’re doing and that’s probably what I would be doing.
“I might be working on a rig somewhere – who knows? Some of the guys that I went to elementary school with are in jail now.”
Although Ackerman has achieved a great deal on the mat so far, he still has lofty ambitions in the world of amateur wrestling – both as a member of the top-ranked Cougars squad and as an individual competitor.
“We should have been national champions last year,” said Ackerman, who finished second at nationals in 2011. “I think we have a very good shot this year … We have CanWest in Regina this year in February. We won it last year and if we win it this year, it will be the school’s 10th title, so we really want to dominate this year.
“I’m trying to qualify for the Olympics right now. I’m on the Canadian Greco team. If I qualify internationally, I get to go to the Olympics. That’s my goal outside of the university right now … That would mean the world. Growing up, that’s what everyone thinks of – everyone wants to be an Olympian. I’m no different – I want to represent Canada at the Olympics and hopefully stand on the podium with our national anthem playing.”