For three days during winter break, young BTSNY wrestlers gathered at Brooklyn Technical High School for the BTS Winter Break Training Camp. Camp, which ran from December 28 to 30, provided as many as 150 participants opportunities to refine skills during the school break and exposed them to peers, female and male, of many ages and experience levels, across the city.
BTS training center coordinator Jaime Gray saw the camp as a chance for the competitive wrestlers of NYC to get to know one another. “We're getting some of the best kids in the city working together. It’s important to us to make more opportunities like this on a regular basis.”
Adel Hasan, a 9th grader at Edward R. Murrow High School, laced up for practice on Thursday. This was his first winter break training camp, but his fourth year wrestling. According to Hasan, who was wearing a black and orange BTS shirt, middle school wrestling did not pose much of a challenge. He stated that “high school is more challenging because I'm about 20 lbs less than most people."
Hasan is a fan of the practices because he likes getting out of the house and meeting new people. “I don’t like staying inside,” said the Brooklynite. He advises newer wrestlers to take advantage of opportunities like the training camps. “I’ve memorized one or two things, and you learn stuff here that you don’t learn in practice.”
Edgar Torosyan, a junior at James Madison High School, attended several sessions at the training camp and felt he was learning a lot. Torosyan stated that “I learned a lot of moves from Coach Penn [Gottfried]...if it wasn’t good practice, I wouldn’t be at so many of these.” His advice for other wrestlers: “come to these practices and go to camps. You’ll get it eventually if you keep going. Believe in yourselves.”
A fellow junior at James Madison, Anthony Maisano, had also been to multiple sessions at the training camp, on top of his normal attendance at the Sunday Poly Prep practices. He got into wrestling in his freshman year after he watched a friend wrestling and was intrigued by the sport. “These training camps are very helpful. Coach Penn is very good at explaining things.”
Maisano is also planning to try college wrestling and is putting in the work to get there. “You should really come to these practices,” he advises newer wrestlers, “they’re a lot of help, especially for beginners. More practices pay off, especially during the summer, too.”
Yonerfry “JoJo” Polanco, senior at Worldview High School, described himself as “a mat rat at Beat the Streets.” When explaining why he attended Winter Break Training Camp, he began by stating that “there are eight people on my team who are not close to my weight so I use Beat the Streets a lot. Beat the Streets is basically my second home. I’m there at every practice I can go to, almost every day. I go there all the time. I’ve been to every camp.” When asked if this was a good way to spend winter break, Polanco responded “Yes, it is. Now that it’s season, you need to get your practices in.” He laughed and shook his head in disbelief before adding that “some people are just eating food!”
Matthew Mina, junior at Brooklyn Technical High School, really committed himself to practice and had tissue stuffed up his bloodied nostril. When asked to describe the day, he said “Today is pretty good. I had like a 4-hour practice before this and now this is my second one. You got to put in the work.” When asked to describe what happened with his nose, he laughed and said, “Yeah, it always happens. Just nosebleeds. I was lifting up my partner and it just happened when I was bringing him down. It’s normal and always happens.” He added that he was having a great time.
Michael Babbcort, sophomore at Wingate High School, made it to the third day of training camp after having participated in the East Hills tournament for two days. When asked about how training camp was going for him, he responded with the following: “We went over different ways to transition and to do breakdowns...It especially helps me to wrestle heavyweights.” He also described moves that he otherwise would not be able to practice frequently.
Coach Penn Gottfried provided the following summary: “Wrestling, in my opinion, is the hardest sport for many reasons. One of those is that the Folkstyle High School season spans four months that encompass some of the main holidays. This could easily be an excuse for wrestlers to take a break and relax a little bit; however, as was evident with our Winter Break Training Camp, NYC kids did not take a break. With over 125 kids a practice, our wrestlers showed their dedication and commitment to the sport and to their individual success. I guarantee that this will show as the season comes to a close in late February, and I am excited to see it unfold.”
All in all, Winter Break Training Camp again proved to be an indispensable experience for any dedicated wrestler, no matter his or her experience level. It was clear that all the wrestlers who were present knew that the time would pay off and that break was a valuable time investment.