Bayard Rustin Education Complex hosted the Beat the Streets Spring Break Training Camp from Monday, April 10 through Thursday, April 13. Approximately 150 dedicated youth wrestlers attended each day, between the morning and afternoon sessions, three Life Skills Workshops, and a clinic by Olympic Bronze medalist Frank Chamizo. The kids who attended clearly understand what it takes, on and off the mat, to become a better wrestler.
Penn Gottfried, Junior League Director, described how the kids not only are spending their spring break training, but doing so constructively "by finding different partners, by asking questions and by working in different positions." Gottfried also credited the city coaches, saying that "they came in full force and worked hard to help out however they could with their wrestlers as well as those from all over NYC."
For the kids who attended camp on April 12, they had a fantastic opportunity to learn techniques from Frank Chamizo, Cuban-born Italian wrestler who was a 2016 Bronze medalist.
Gottfried raved about the opportunity this clinic presented. Though he got a bit beat up when partnering with the Olympian, he was extremely grateful that the kids were not only able to see a high-caliber wrestler, but to understand how one approaches the mat. Despite Chamizo not being fluent in English, with a translator's help, he could "communicate his techniques and philosophies through his personality."
Justin Ebron, a junior from the Eagle Academy of Young Men in the Bronx, also got to wrestle with Chamizo, an experience he described as phenomenal. "I was able to see that it was all about feeling—when I'd shoot, he'd feel the motion before I shot. If I shot a single, he'd be a step ahead. He'd be out of the single and already into a shot."
He continued that what Chamizo was teaching was exactly what Gottfried has been trying to teach the wrestlers. "When we're sparring. He wants us to transition from one move to the next and hit it crisply," said Ebron.
He described that while he understood this conceptually, it's something he still needs to work on. "It's all about mental toughness and being able to picture the next move before you actually do them."
Angel Torres, a volunteer at Aviation High School and father of Aviation wrestler, Noah, volunteered as Chamizo's translator. Through Torres, Chamizo described how moves shouldn't just be practiced on the mat, but in the wrestler's mind, as well. "The more you practice in your mind, you see it more and your game is much better," said Chamizo.
Additional advice Chamizo gave included staying committed to wrestling and remaining positive towards oneself. Keeping with his philosophy, Chamizo added that he had no plan coming into the day. "There was nothing to think about-- It all comes from the mind and it's all pretty much improvisation," said Chamizo.
Sulayman Bah, an 8th grader from M.S. 129, felt inspired when watching Chamizo. "When I saw him wrestle Coach Penn and other kids, I saw his style and I want to be like him—to work hard and become a better wrestler," said Bah.
Three Life Skills Workshops also took place during this camp. 126 student-athletes attended Tuesday's "Fundraising," 148 attended Wednesday's "College Readiness," and 148 attended Thursday's "Financial Literacy."
"Fundraising" was presented by Christa Orth from WingoNYC, "a hands-on group of experts in fundraising, communication, design and special events." The student-athletes learned all the essentials of running a successful crowdfunding campaign, in regards of how to use social media to reach the intended audience and how to entice them with incentives and rewards. WingoNYC also emphasized that a campaign doesn't just end once the money is raised—there should be a follow up plan to thanks and cultivate new donor after the campaign.
"College Readiness" was taught by Richard Kosik from the PSAL. This "Game Plan for Success" got student-athletes to organize their thoughts about the future and made them realize how they can use their resources to take control and pursue college. The student-athletes received a handbook to help them become more knowledgeable about the total experience of the student-athlete, NCAA requirements and ultimately gaining admission to college. As Zainab Mridha, a sophomore at Bronx Science said, "[Kosik] made me think more about high school and making a plan."
Dorian Steadman, a sophomore at Achievement First Brooklyn High School, felt like Kosik's talk was helpful even if you weren't thinking about wrestling in college. "I can see how wrestling gives intangibles that colleges want to see. It's about the dedication, determination, having your head and heart in it—those are helpful for college period."
"Financial Literacy" was taught by Tony Baba, a banker from Santander Bank. This class taught the student-athletes about how to manage a checking and savings account, what credit is and how to build it, and scary student loans. The kids even had the option to open their own Santander account by the end.
Justin Ebron was grateful to Beat the Streets for providing Life Skills Workshops. "[The Speakers] talking to us shows how Beat the Streets is here to support us. BTS wants to see us succeed, go to college and succeed in our lives."
Feras Zedeia, a senior at Bryant High School, summed up camp as any of his peers would have: "I've been learning a lot during these practices. I hope I can bring it to my matches."
For the commitment that was exhibited last week at camp, success is inevitable if the wrestlers apply what they learned. Good luck on your paths to becoming better wrestlers!
Thank you to Will Moyet, BREC Wrestling coach, for taking great pictures.