Heritage is a term that we typically use when describing something like a way of life that is passed down from generation to generation. It can be an heirloom, tradition, philosophy, teaching or really anything that can be passed down to others.
Each year the Reno Tournament of Champions honors someone who gives back to their community through the sport of wrestling.
Wrestling teaches discipline, respect, uncompromised work ethic and promotes a tradition of excellence passed down from generation to generation.
Those that are involved in wrestling and have lived through the blood, sweat, tears whether competing or watching a child or friend compete, has a good understanding of the hard work and dedication it takes to compete at a high level. Some, can even say that it’s a part of their heritage to compete or be involved in wrestling.
This year, the Reno Tournament will be honoring late tournament co-founder Ross Aguiar as the Heritage Award honoree.
For over three decades Ross’ passion to promote the sport of wrestling was unmatched. Growing up wrestling as a prepster and then going to Boise State, he wanted to give back to the sport that had given him so much.
Thus, the Reno Tournament of Champions was born.
Twenty-one years ago, he along with his life-long friend and teammate Jack Dolan had the vision to create a college and high school tournament that would one day grow into what it is today. Ross would tell the story about how he really learned about what wrestling is when John Smith invited him to come to an OSU-Iowa dual when Dan Gable was still coaching. He said from then on he was hooked and he wanted to create something like that out in Reno.
With the help of many of you including John, Mark Branch, Steven Powell, Wayne Branstetter, Jack Dolan, Lori May, Don Blasingame, Dave Nevin, Marnie Mattice, and many, many more individuals, the RTOC has become a tournament that he was proud of.
For the past 10 years, my wife, Beth, and I have had the honor and privilege of knowing Ross and working with him to help run the tournament. Why he ever asked us to run a tournament when we both had no experience running a tournament, I will never know. However, what he had was a vision and built a team that would understand his vision and help the tournament run smooth each year.
As part of his vision, he also had the idea to work with Flo Wrestling when it was starting up. He saw the potential in Flo and wanted to work with Martin and Joe, and we still enjoy a partnership with Flo Wrestling to this day.
You as the coaches have been the biggest impact as we wouldn’t be going into our 21st year without you bringing your teams each year. He knew that and was always appreciative of everything.
This year’s tournament is going to be hard. Not going to pretend it’s not. It is. We all know that. We are all going to miss Rossco’s smile and bear hugs this year. But Rossco would want us to get through it and have the tournament and make sure we started on time and finished (relatively) early. The only thing he told us when we first started running the tournament was “you’ve got to start on time!”
That we will.
As a 501(c)3, the Reno Tournament of Champions is a non-profit organization that continually gives back to wrestling clubs in the area. This was part of the vision of both Ross and Jack.
Throughout the past 20 years of running the tournament, Rossco has coached hundreds of wrestlers throughout the Reno area and has passed on the heritage of wrestling to all who came in contact with him.
We all will be forever grateful for knowing Rossco and being touched by his willingness to help out where needed and for having the vision to build a tournament like the Reno Tournament.
Even though he may not be with us anymore, his legacy and heritage lives on.