Unlike many youth wrestling clubs that practice all year, Twin City has only three months to train and compete in the spring tournaments leading up to the Southeast Regionals in late May. They wrestle Greco and Freestyle. Dewberry emphasizes the basics, where in his experience, matches are won or lost.
Then all thoughts turn to football. Southernmost of all U.S. Pop Warner teams, the Razorbacks have reached local legend status for winning Pop Warner national championships. Dewberry coached the Junior Midget division to their 2010 national championship and took the same crop of kids, as Midgets, to the national runner-up position in 2011.
“People know me for football, but my first love is wrestling,” Dewberry admits. But wrestling is not only less prestigious of a sport, it’s also more expensive for parents to send their kids to tournaments across and outside the state. With registration fees, hotels and food, it can cost upwards of $500 per child for the season. This year, four Twin City boys qualified for the June 22 national competition in Utah, where All Americans will be crowned to compete against international teams later this yearin Puerto Rico. But with a price tag of $900 for the Utah trip, there’s no guarantee all of them will be able to go.
“Coming out of Florida City, not a lot of parents can come up with that,” says Darren Baldwin, another Dewberry protégé who became a coaching volunteer.
Baldwin’s mom gave birth to him and his sister when she was a teenager. . His grandmother took him to live with her.
“Coming from here, that’s common,” Baldwin says. “I’ve been under Curt since I was 1 day old. My dad wrestled with him.”
With Dewberry, and his father, Darren Baldwin Sr., guiding him, he started wrestling at age 5, graduated from University of Central Florida on a football scholarship, and got a tryout with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“Dad never missed a wrestling tournament, never missed a football game,” Baldwin says. “He sent me to South Dade High instead of Homestead, driving me to school every day for four years. I never had to deal with the things other kids did — walking home and getting into fights, wearing the same clothes and shoes to school every day. I never had to wonder, ‘Am I going to have enough money to play on the team?’ ”
Santiago Arciniega, 10, is one of Twin City’s qualifiers heading to Utah.
“It’s all worth it,” his father Damacio Arciniega says of the time and money he has invested in youth sports. Besides putting his three boys through Dewberry’s programs, Arciniega coaches soccer for some 300 kids who practice Wednesday and Friday evenings on a field at South Dade Labor Camp at Southwest 312th Street and 137th Avenue.
“I just don’t want kids to go in a bad direction,” Arciniega says. “They get into the street, and come to practice with attitudes. Eventually their anger subsides. I try to pass on a better outlook.”
Six years ago. Coach Sands saw his stepson Corey going in that direction and took the boy in to live with him.
“It was a rough start. Corey wants to be so much better than I was. He would say, ‘You think you’re never wrong,’ and I’d try to tell him, ‘I just don’t want you to make my mistakes.’ ”