The novelty of this camp, said Steve Chinn, is that it isn’t just about technique: it’s about bonding with teammates.
Chinn and organizers of the third Pin 2 Win camp, held July 5-8 at Sequim Middle School, saw plenty of bonding — to go with instruction from a wrestling legend.
“Mean” Gene Mills, a former two-time NCAA champ who amassed a lifetime record of 1,356 wins (to 46 losses and a tie) and 886 victories by fall, was back in Sequim leading instruction, along with area high school coaches.
Chinn, a longtime coach who returned to his Sequim High School varsity position last season after SHS coach Chad Cate unexpectedly passed away, said the camp attendance increased from 47 in 2022 to about 65 this year — including a pair of two-time state champions.
Chinn said organizers are already in discussion about bringing the camp back in 2024, though they might change the dates after seeing there were several other camps slated for the week, including one at North Kitsap High in Poulsbo.
“We have visions for next year,” he said.
Chinn credited Allison Shinkle for taking on most of the work to make Pin 2 Win happen, from creation of T-shirts (that honored Cate) to arranging lunches, overseeing online and day-of registration and organizing the parents.
“If it weren’t for her the camp wouldn’t have happened,” Chinn said. “She saw the bond between the kids and Chad.”
He said Sequim’s grapplers should benefit from camps such as this and an intensive camp the Wolves attended the previous week at Oregon State University.
“Our kids have had a heck of two weeks,” said Chinn, noting a good crop of freshmen and five seniors will bolster Sequim’s chances on the mat in 2023-24.
“It will an interesting year; I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
Mills, a New Jersey native and member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, provided the lion’s share of instruction. He tallied a collegiate record of 144-5-1 with 107 falls, two NCAA championships and four all-American honors, with five NCAA records to boot. A member of the 1980 U.S.A. Olympic freestyle team, he never had the chance to prove he was the best 114-pound freestyle wrestler in the world after the United States boycotted the 1980 Olympics.
His international record includes a string of 82 consecutive victories, two World Cup Championship gold medals, and the pinning of two Olympic Games medallists and a two-time world gold medallist at the 1980 World Super Championship in Japan.