Aaron Roubicek loves the challenge of testing himself physically against another competitor.
That’s why even though he has played a lot of sports in his life, he thinks wrestling is the one that will stick.
“It’s just you and your opponent, so it’s just all the work that you’ve put in that determines the outcome of a match,” said the 17-year-old Charles Hays Secondary School student. “And I like the fact that it’s just me out there against someone else.”
Roubicek will have plenty of opportunities to find out how good his wrestling skills are as he competes against some of the provinces’ best wrestlers in the 60-kilogram weight class at the BC Summer Games in Cowichan.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity to go out there and compete,” he said.
While he was born in north Vancouver, Roubicek spent most of his life in Prince Rupert as his family moved to the city when he was one.
He developed a love for martial arts at a young age watching UFC fights with his father whenever he would host fight-watch parties at his home. Roubicek said he immediately gravitated toward Georges St. Pierre, the popular Canadian welterweight champion who was famous for his all-around fighting skills and strong wrestling.
“He was the first superstar I was introduced to,” Roubicek said.
While he continued to observe the sport, there were no opportunities for Roubicek to pursue some of the things he saw his idol doing. Instead, he gravitated toward other sports, playing soccer, hockey, basketball, lacrosse and badminton through his elementary, middle and high school years.
In the fall of 2017, Dane Waldal — a new teacher at CHSS — began a new wrestling program and recruited student at the school to try out and compete. Roubicek said that he “hopped on” the opportunity when he heard about the team, and eagerly attended early practices. Right away, he noticed the difference between wrestling and the other sports he had played.
“You’re using your entire body against someone else,” he said. “You’re using a lot of different movements that you don’t even touch in another sport.”
In addition to the sheer physicality of the sport, Roubicek said the technical complexity of wrestling was something that also appealed to him.
“Each move has tons of steps in between to help you get from point A to point B,” he said.
While he found the different moves foreign at first, Roubicek gradually picked up the skills he would need to be able to compete in a real wrestling match. In February, he competed in his first full competition at the Northwest regional zone competition.
“You realize how much energy and stamina it takes to compete in an entire match,” he said.
Even though he wasn’t able to medal, Roubicek returned to Prince Rupert more motivated to excel at the sport. Soon after zones were over, the team’s coach told them that CHSS had been invited to compete in the upcoming BC Summer Games. Eager to get more competition, Roubicek happily accepted the invitation and has been training to prepare ever since.
At the beginning of July, Roubicek attended a wrestling camp at Oregon State University in the U.S. where he received top level coaching at a national collegiate program alongside some of the country’s top talent. Days at the camp consisted of long runs at 6:30 a.m., circuit training, positioning and footwork drills, and technique instruction.
“We must have learned over 100 moves,” Roubicek said. “I can’t even remember half of them.”
Since returning from camp, Roubicek said he feels ready to see how he much he has improved since his last competition. He said he plans to represent Prince Rupert to the best of his ability at the Summer Games and will be looking to put his home town on the map.
“I’m excited to go out there and see what the level of competition is around the province and show what a kid from a small town can do,” he said.