Ron Gonzales with MTMS students Misha and Kylee at a Wolverines Wrestling training session.

Ron Gonzales knows firsthand the valuable lessons that wrestling can teach. With a background in national-level competition, he set out to share his passion for the sport when he joined Mother Teresa Middle School (MTMS) in 2011. “Wrestling teaches students so many skills like grit, confidence, work ethic, resilience, and building self-esteem. If they get those values out of it, they are a champion regardless of if they decide to go to competitions or if they win medals,” said Gonzales. 

Initially starting as an after-school program, the growing demand for the sport led Gonzales to establish the Wolverines Wrestling Club in 2013. The club offers MTMS students and alumni additional training opportunities and avenues for competition. Since Wolverines Wrestling started, over thirty MTMS students have benefited through training with the club. Gonzales has noticed that many students who begin their wrestling journey in middle school continue to pursue the sport in high school and beyond. “My goal is that they keep wrestling beyond middle school and continue to develop those skills and values,” said Gonzales. 

“Wrestling teaches students so many skills like grit, confidence, work ethic, resilience, and building self-esteem. If they get those values out of it, they are a champion regardless of if they decide to go to competitions or if they win medals.”

- Ron Gonzales


A Gold Standard 

Misha displays his wrestling medals from the past year.

Students engage in wrestling for various reasons, from fitness and exercise to competitive endeavors, like competing throughout the Saskatchewan circuit and beyond. Misha Halaktionov falls into the latter category. He is a Grade 6 student at MTMS who came to Canada from Ukraine. His passion and commitment to wrestling have led to numerous victories at the highest levels of competition throughout Saskatchewan and Alberta. 

“When I first saw him wrestle, I knew he was special. His training, technique, humbleness, and willingness to learn and put in the extra hours immediately stood out. His trajectory is very promising and I am sure we will be celebrating his accomplishments for many years to come," Gonzales observes. Reflecting on Misha's journey at MTMS, Gonzales adds, "He had very limited English when he got here, so seeing him thrive in the classroom and have the confidence to put up his hand shows he has come a long way. He also has made many friends with fellow students at MTMS who share his interest in wrestling, which has helped make the adjustment to a new country a bit easier for him," shared Gonzales.

Halaktionov appreciates the supportive environment at MTMS. “When I came to Canada, I went to wrestling and heard about the school (MTMS). And then I watched YouTube and Facebook videos of the school and wanted to come here,” he shared. “From the first day, I really liked it here. Nice teachers, students, and good food. They have helped me get better at different subjects like math, and writing, they are helping me practice and get much better with my English,” Halaktionov expressed. He highlighted how wrestling helped his transition to a new country. “Wrestling to me, means everything, it’s a big part of my life. It’s my favorite thing in the world. I started wrestling when I was eight in Ukraine and it was one of the first things I did coming to Canada. My dream would be to compete at the Olympics, so I have a lot of work to do to get ready,” said Halaktionov.


Celebrating Resilience

Kylee with her Provincial Gold Medal.

For Kylee Bear, a Grade 8 student at MTMS, wrestling was initially unfamiliar territory. However, she embraced the challenge and won a gold medal at the Provincial Championships. "Although wrestling was available as an after-school program, I didn't join until I started Grade 8," Kylee acknowledges, crediting Gonzales for motivating her to take the leap. 

Reflecting on her journey, Bear emphasizes the personal growth she experienced through the sport, noting its demands on training and strength. "It's essential to be in top form physically and mentally," she explains. Winning gold was a major highlight, “I was like wow, all the training I put into it showed my progress and how much I grew. It felt awesome to win gold,” said Bear. She also credits the coaching style of Gonzales, highlighting his energy and positivity in helping her to preserve.  Leading up to the Provincial Championships, Gonzales noticed an increase in her level of preparation and training. “I saw her training more, she was determined to compete at that level. To see her find that success, was a moment of pure joy. Her resilience and training paid off and I was so happy for her,” said Gonzales.

Bear, like other wrestlers at MTMS, intends to continue wrestling in high school. A trend that Gonzales is happy to see. “They experience benefits such as learning to control emotions, developing a strong work ethic, and learning patience and discipline. It's inspiring to watch their confidence and self-esteem grow over the years, knowing these are skills they can carry with them for life," Gonzales exclaimed.


Opportunities like the wrestling program are made possible for MTMS students and alumni through the generosity of donors and the support of Jordan's Principle and the Community Initiatives Fund.  




If you would like to support activities that contribute to student success contact:

Evie Sawatzky | Director of Development

P: 306-569-6867 Ext. 4