Craig Kersey

President - Lincoln Little League

Dana and Mike from The Performance Connection took the time to listen to my concerns and goals and build a workshop that fit our needs. They took the time to meet with our Board of Directors in the evening and kept us focused and on-task. In the 90-minute workshop, we identified the Core Values we wanted our league to represent and create ways to implement them for this coming season. We are already planning our next workshop and look forward to having them back out to help in other areas of need.

Yelena Makoyed

I remember Coach Lee telling me he was never a great wrestler, although he was on a great wrestling team in high school. He lacked the talent, but he had the drive and the love for the sport. Fast forward, this attitude transferred over into his career. Aside from being my coach, he was my AP psychology teacher. In the classroom, he made learning fun, the mundane thngs enjoyable, and he brought lots of energy to the early mornings. It was the one class I actually enjoyed, and he inspired me to, later, major in psychology. Coach Lee has a passion for gaining knowledge, wisdom, and insight. Despite his lackluster wrestling career, he became a great, one-of-a-kind coach that Bella Vista High School admired. He constantly studied wrestling technique and sought ways to perfect his athletes— looking for ways to improve. He was patient but energetic; he was stern and straightforward when he needed to be— the athletes, coaches, teachers, everyone respected and looked up to him. When he eventually retired from coaching at BVHS, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. He made a huge impact on not only our wrestling careers but us as people.

Coach Lee keeps up with me to this day and checks in occasionally. I would not be where I am— as an athlete, student, and person—without Coach Lee.

3x NCAA Champion

4x NCAA All-American

NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler 2023

USA Wrestling National Team Member

Alex Hedrick

I had the pleasure of being coached by both Coach Smith and Coach Lee in my youth, and I can honestly say that their influence on my wrestling career and my life has been immense. They taught me many valuable life skills through the sport of wrestling, such as composure, consistency, and mental toughness. These skills have not only contributed to my success in wrestling, but also have helped me be a better daughter, sister, friend, and person.

I’ll share a couple memories that come to mind of lessons they both taught me that I’ve carried with me. The first is from 6th grade. I remember Coach Smith talking to my teammates and I about our team value of being a good sport, win or lose. “Win with class, lose with class” he would say. Those words still echo in my mind when I’m competing at a world level. Sportsmanship is something I value still, because Coach Smith ingrained that in me. Coach Smith always was an example to me through his actions. He always won and lost with class as a coach. He taught me the power of consistency, but not through words, through action. Our practices were very repetitive. We had the same format everyday, which is a practice I don’t think many coaches stick to. That is how I built a solid wrestling base to build on. Seeing the power of consistency as demonstrated by Coach Smith, has caused me to prioritize consistency in all areas of my life (wrestling, relationships, schoolwork, spirituality).

The example of Coach Lee that’s coming to my mind is from my senior year of high school. After meeting with medical professionals, and discussing it with my parents, I made the decision to wrestle in the regional championships with an injured shoulder. The doctor had told me that I wasn’t risking doing any further damage by wrestling. It would just be a question of pain tolerance. Leading up to the tournament, we had to adjust my training quite a bit. Coach Lee sat me down the day before the competition and told me that I needed to forget about my shoulder the moment I stepped into that gym. Thinking about the injury would only weigh me down, and mentally it would give myself an excuse to lose. I followed his advice, and was able to perform well and win the tournament. Now after being on the US national team and several age group level world teams, I have had times where I have had to compete with an injury, and I was able to stay composed and put the injury out of my mind, just like Coach Lee taught me. He taught me not to let obstacles in my life stop me from performing well. Coach Lee really taught me how to be mentally tough, a skill that will take you very far in athletics and in life.

I would not be where I am as an athlete or a human being without either of these two mentors, that helped me build amazing mental skills that I still use as a competitive athlete today and will carry with me through my entire life. I have only shared a few examples of lessons they taught me, but I could go on and on all day about what I have learned from these two role models in my life.

4x CA State Medalist

2x CA State Champion

4x College All-American

2x NCAA Champion

2x US Open Champion

Jake Briggs

I grew up in the Bella Vista wrestling program most of my life, and it has shaped the person I am today. I met Mike when I was approximately 14 years old. Mike is one of the most honest (albeit, sometimes to a fault) people you will ever meet who has dedicated most of his life to giving back to the community and its students and student-athletes. Mike was one of my mentors who I looked up to while wrestling for him. Mike carried himself with class, was always fair, and treated every student-athlete equally, no matter how good they were. I’ll never forget my senior year. I was a pretty decent wrestler; however, I was not always the easiest to deal with in the wrestling room (what senior doesn’t like to goof around and get a little too confident in who they are.) Mike sent me to the JV room for a week, and it did teach me a life lesson: I would not be where I was without the help and support of my teachers/teammates/coaches/friends/ family. In that same breath, during my senior year, I was going through a tough time with my father, and Mike opened his home to me. I stayed at Mike’s house; he was there for me while trying to cut weight. Mike ran with me all night and sat in a sauna for what felt like hours. Not many coaches would do that for their athletes.

Fast forward a few years, and I had just got done wrestling in college and wanted to start coaching. Mike welcomed me back to the Bella Vista family with open arms, and I could not be more grateful. I coached alongside Mike for five years, and this is where I learned the most from him. I learned how to be a better coach, man, and leader. Mike and I grew close over the years, and he is someone I always call for advice. I thank Mike for everything he has done for me over the last 17 years and look forward to a lifetime of advice and friendship. I am the person I am today with some of the guidance I received from Mike!

Jake Briggs

3x California State Medalist

High School All-American

Division 1 Wrestler at Boise State / CSU Bakersfield

Debbie Bluemel

The difference between a good coach and a great coach isn’t their win-loss record but their commitment and devotion to their athletes; THAT is what sets Coach Mike Lee and Coach Dana Smith apart from the rest – they aren’t just coaches but mentors. 

As evidenced by the wrestling programs they built over the last two decades, Mike and Dana are very experienced in wrestling. They are attentive to each athlete’s needs and employ a positive approach to skill-building and gaining mental toughness, constantly challenging their athletes to do their best regardless of whether they win or lose. They have a unique way of inspiring athletes and encouraging them to improve self-esteem, build character, and, most importantly, help them form the tools and self-confidence they’ll need as they prepare for life’s journey. I could not have asked for better role models for my kids.

Debbie Bluemel


Shayne Tucker

I had the privilege of being coached by Coach Smith when I attended Carnegie Middle School. His style of coaching left an impact on me that went beyond wrestling. He taught us to have good character and hold ourselves to a standard on and off the mat. I remember growing as a leader. I learned that my teammates' success was as important as mine.  

I knew he cared greatly for me and my family. He didn't just talk about wrestling but would see how we were doing outside the sport and how our families were doing. He had a healthy balance of keeping it lighthearted in the practice room but also turning it up a notch when it was time to work. As a kid, you don't realize the impact that has on you; today, I realize the impact Coach Smith had on me and continues to have on his athletes and students. 

In High School, I had the privilege of being coached by Coach Lee. As a Freshman, I had difficulty adjusting to high school's new speed and strength. I remember Coach Lee pulling me aside during certain practices and positions and taking the time to correct and give input. To no surprise, he is a great teacher. He also helped me in the mental part of the sport. He helped me find ways to wrestle looser when I felt the pressure of a match. Coach Lee also helped me get out of a rut when I had a hard time during my freshman year. When I felt like throwing in the towel, he helped talk me through it and encouraged me to finish the year. I got out of my slump and continued wrestling through High School and at the College level. If it wasn't for Coach Lee and others investing in me, I don't know if I would have had the opportunities I did, and for that, I am thankful. 

Division 1 wrestler at the University of Oklahoma 

Big 12 Champion 

High School All-American 

3x California State Medalist 

2x California State Finalist