Wrestling is a grueling sport where the winner is usually the participant who is not willing to give up.

Darrin Halford, an Army veteran and head coach of the Pinning Pythons, said wrestling is also the perfect opportunity to teach life lessons through the sport he loves.

This is a sport that I love and want to pass on so that kids who participate can take away its a life lesson, said Halford. If you learn that you dont quit, pretty soon youll hit your goals here. Its the same thing in life. If you dont quit, you will always hit your goals.

The coaches of Pinning Pythons, a local wrestling team that usaully meets in Hope Mills, N.C., show their dedication by volunteering at least 30 hours a week to military-connected youth wrestlers who range from ages 4 to 17. They teach 40 to 50 youth, everything from the basic fundamental wrestling stances to advanced takedown and reversals.

Halford understands the benefit wrestling has on children looking for athletic opportinities.

Not every kid is a football player or baseball player, said Halford. In wrestling you can be any body type, shape or size. The sport is you against you.

The wrestlers work to absorb everything taught during the wrestling practice by drilling and using partners to execute moves.

I love the charge you get taking down someone during a match, said Dempsey Allen, 16. I started wrestling because my brother did. He was an inspiration for me in the sport.

While the wrestling program strives to give participants great skills for success on the mat, Halford has bigger goals for the program to instill leadership and teamwork in the participants.

My ultimate goal is to see kids have a chance to go to college, said Halford. Weve met that goal and for us, its about trying to get as many kids in as we can. There is nothing better than to see a kid come off the mat with a smile on his face and give you a hug. That pays for everything.

The season hasnt start yet and practice now is about preparing for the upcoming season. However, every year, like a badge of honor, the Pinning expect to face wrestlers who have gone on to compete at the junior and senior high school level.

We want to teach our kids that its not necessarily about winning, rather its about giving it your best, no matter how tired or hurt you are, said Halford. We want them to hold up their head. Show everyone every time that they can win or lose like a champion.

For more information about the Pinning Pythons, contact Darrin Halford at 551-2769, visit the teams website at www.pinningpythons.com/ or like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pinning.pythons?fref=ts.