By Jon Gagnon
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News —
In the first days of youth club wrestling practice all the kids are called out onto the mat and told to pair up with a partner. Colin and Tim Barnard — brothers wrestling for Tonawanda — were 5 and 4 years old when they stepped onto the mat for the first time.
They undoubtedly chose each other.
“The two of them would actually join hands and go out (together),” said Larry Barnard, their father. “The coach said to me, ‘That’s cherishable and it’s not going to stay that way for long.’ It showed they knew they belonged together, and they stayed together over time.”
The two brothers, who have been wrestling together all their lives, couldn’t be any different from one another — from their personalities to their tattoos.
Colin, a senior at Tonawanda High School, has Spiderman tattooed on his calf and is known as the quiet one. Tim, a junior, has Batman inked on his calf and is more open and outgoing.
“They’re totally different,” said Tonawanda High School varsity wrestling coach Jeff Hess. “Colin doesn’t say anything, just comes in, does his work and goes home, where as Tim is more of a vocal presence in the room. I’ve gotten probably two words from (Colin) all year.”
According to Tim, the two spent the first 10 years of their wrestling careers practicing with only each other and it's been a benefit seeing as the brothers have completely different styles of wrestling.
“We have the complete opposite style,” Tim said. “He’s a leg wrestler, tries to slow things down. I try to speed things up and get the quick pins.”
The difference is interesting considering that both boys learned how to wrestle from their father.
It all started when Larry took the boys to see his nephew wrestle at North Tonawanda High School when they were young. After watching the match, he asked them if this sport would be something they were interested in, and they instantly said yes.
But Larry never wrestled in high school or had any experience.
“When the boys became interested in (wrestling) I became a student of the sport,” he said. “I bought about 40 different DVDs and videos to teach myself.”
He taught himself the moves and then taught the boys. He even re-finished their garage and turned it into a wrestling room.
When the two were in seventh and eighth grade they had hopes of making the varsity team. Tim earned a spot but Colin didn’t, as there was an older wrestler at his weight class already on team.
“I was happy that my brother was on the team, but I was angry that I wasn’t on there and didn’t get an opportunity, it was frustrating,” Colin said.
In November of 2012, Tim became the 16th wrestler in Tonawanda High School history to join the 100-win club. Colin has continued to work at his craft and went undefeated in back-to-back seasons at the junior varsity level, but after his freshman season he missed the next two wrestling seasons because of injury and then for personal reasons. He got the itch to return last year.
“Halfway through the season last year I kind of missed it and it was too late to comeback up, so I just regretted it,” Colin said.
This season, Colin decided to rejoin the team. He suffered a back injury in his first match of the season and had to take some time off, again. He’ll be making his season debut this weekend when the team travels to NCCC for the Niagara Frontiers Officials tournament.
“He really wants to be here and he really wants to surprise people and make an impact this year,” Hess said. “He’s hanging with the best kids (on our team) and we have some of the best in the section. I keep telling him he’s the best kept secret in the section, and he really is.”
In his senior year and nearing the end of his wrestling career, Colin will leave the sport the same way he came into it, with his brother.