One thing we’ve noticed about Beat the Streets kids is how often they’re inspired to give back as adults. Former BTS wrestler William Yee is an outstanding example of this: the current student at John Jay College will be assistant coaching at Brooklyn Tech this school year.
“I am very grateful for this opportunity and will get NYC wrestling to another level,” Yee wrote on Facebook. “This is one of the biggest steps in my coaching career!” Yee always demonstrated a strong work ethic during his previous experiences with BTS, and we are certain he will bring that to Brooklyn Tech.
Yee, a Queens native who graduated from Information Technology High School in 2015, was profiled by BTS in our 2015 Graduated Grappler feature and our 2014 Student-Athlete spotlight. He worked at BTS in high school, coming early to practices to roll out and mop mats. In the spring of 2015, he became a BTS coach, coaching at a community program and winning the GRIT Award at our annual Gala for outstanding character. In the fall of 2015 he became a BTS Junior League coach, working with middle school wrestlers.
Yee got his start in wrestling in an unusual fashion, growing out of his interest in Mixed Martial Arts. “A friend of mine came down to my MMA gym,” Yee said. “We sparred and he put a beat down on me.” When he asked where the friend trained, he mentioned high school wrestling. Yee was instantly interested in the intensity of the practices and the intelligence one needed to understand the sport. From there, it became a daily passion.
One of Yee’s friends, Andy Martinez, also served as his mentor and coach. This is how Yee was able to become a City Champion in 2015, along with BTS coaches, got him interested in picking up the career himself. “[My coaches’] selflessness, commitment and sacrifice of time inspired me to do that for others. Helping others makes me feel great.”
In his position as a coach, he hopes to bring NYC wrestling together through Brooklyn Tech’s strong program, “so that together, we get better as a city, as a section and as a state.” He’s even used the hashtags #CityStrong and #NYStateStrong to try to draw online attention to this goal online.
For younger BTS wrestlers, Yee has a few words of advice. “Work hard, and enjoy the process of getting better at wrestling -- have fun with wrestling! It’s important to have a career to support you, but it’s more important for you to enjoy what you love…it’s important to love and enjoy yourself first because you can’t give what you don’t have.”
Without wrestling, Yee says he would not be as confident, outgoing, or motivated as he is today. “I feel that it has made all the difference.”
“Will is the epitome of a NYC wrestler who is giving back to his community,” said BTS coach Penn Gottfried. “He will give up a whole weekend to go and coach the BTS team at a sleep-over tournament.” Gottfried praises Yee’s selflessness and relentless drive to raise the level of NYC wrestling, even going as far as starting a wrestling club at John Jay. “ If we had 100 Will Yee's we would have 15 State and National champs a year!”