On Saturday, November 19, 45 NYC kids and 5 coaches attended the Princeton/Rutgers Dual, an outdoor event witnessed by thousands. The competition took place on the football field at Rutgers University in New Jersey and was billed as the Battle at the Birthplace.
The event showed, according to BTS coach Penn Gottfried, “how popular and exciting wrestling can be. [Our kids] are used to a couple hundred people in a gym, but to see how big the sport and fan base is was special.”
It was also a chance for BTS student-athletes to witness wrestling at one of its highest levels. Among the competitors were wrestlers who had received All-American honors, and others who were ranked in the national top 10.
When the matches were on pause, the kids were able to have a talk and a tour from two of the current wrestlers, who explained everything about college wrestling, from admission to team life. The kids were engaged and asked a number of questions, only stopping when it was time to return to the bus. “This enabled them to gain some valuable firsthand knowledge in the life of a college athlete and see where they could potentially land,” said Gottfried.
John Cichon, Coach at Tottenville High School, said “It was a great day and experience to see Division I wrestling in an outside venue. It was eye opening for our wrestlers to experience wrestling on such a big stage and on such a high level."
One wrestler, Brian Duran from Seward Park, said that “seeing the vast amount of people in the bleachers just made me think about what it takes to be a wrestler and the dedication that these guys put in on the mat, and what I could do to make myself better each day as a wrestler.”
Most importantly, the kids were able to have fun and bond over wrestling. “This is essential in building the culture of wrestling,” said Gottfried.