Beat The Streets - New York City Wrestling

Aileen Gonzalez being presented with the 2016 Lady Liberty Award by Kyle Snyder, Haley Augello, and Elena Pirozhkova

The Beat the Streets Annual Benefit, East Meets West: USA vs. Japan in Times Square on Wednesday, May 17, won't just be about the world class wrestling on the mat—it'll also be about recognizing athletes and coaches for the contributions they've made to the New York City wrestling community.   

This annual BTS tradition will award 12 individuals on a range of contributions, on and off the mat, including in the classroom. The BTS staff faced a tall order, but they managed to whittle down 413 nominations to 12 award winners. Nominations came from student-athletes, coaches, parents, and peers, all vouching for why their nomination was the most worthy. The descriptions for each award can be found here. 

Additionally, Beat the Streets is proud to announce the Become Your Own Dream Scholarship winner. The Become Your Own Dream Scholarship was founded by Hooman Tavakolian and co-founded by Lorelei Martin and Jon TushThe Scholarshipone-year award that goes to help a New York City student-athlete who has overcome hardship, graduated from high school, and plans to wrestle in college, has been awarded to seven student-athletes since 2011.  

Congratulations to all of the following 2017 Beat the Streets Award Winners!  

 

 STUDENT-ATHLETES

Junior League Girls Wrestler of the Year: Alessandra Elliott

Junior League Boys Wrestler of the Year: Wilver Mariano-Peralta

Female Student-Athlete of the Year: Amna Eldawaity

Male Student-Athlete of the Year: Joseph DiForte

GRIT Award: Yonefry Polanco

LADY LIBERTY Award: Pearl Fletcher

ATLAS Award and Become Your Own Dream Scholarship Winner: Brandon Nunez

COACHES

Junior League Coach of the Year: Dmitriy Landa

High School Assistant Coach of the Year: Jonathan Khoury

Girls High School Coach of the Year: Dave Kantrowitz

Boys High School Coach of the Year: Stephen Perez

Volunteer of the Year: Andy Martinez

 

STUDENT-ATHLETES 

Junior League Girls Wrestler of the Year 

Alessandra Renee Elliott is a 6th grader at P.S. 861 and wrestles through the Tottenville wrestling programElliot has been wrestling one and a half years nowShe began wrestling when one of her Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teammates encouraged her to join the Beat The Streets Wrestling program in Tottenville, Staten Island, NY. She worked with Coach Mirra and was "hooked" after her first practice.  

She lists her accomplishments as the following: (1) Junior League NYC Girls Wrestling Championship 2016 120lbs NYC – Gold, (2New York State Girls Wrestling Championship 2017 118lbs Johnson city, NY  Gold(3) Revolution Girls Wrestling Championship 2017 Springfield, MA Junior high 112lbs– Silver High school 112lbs- Silver. 

She enjoys wrestling because she makes new friends and enjoys being part of a team. She loves the feeling she gets on the mat when she competes 

When asked about her other hobbies or fun facts, she said the following: "I practice Brazilian jiujitsu and I am getting ready to join the Civil Air Patrol. I speak two languages-- English and Tagalog. I also have a bearded dragon as a pet named Apollo." 

 

Junior League Boys Wrestler of the Year 

Wilver Mariano Peralta, an 8th grader at M.S. 129, has been wrestling for almost three years now. He initially began because he thought it was WWE.  

Mariano-Peralta lists some of his accomplishments as being a two-time City Champion at 91 lbs and 105 lbs, placing 2nd for States at 106 lbs, placing 1st at the Super Regional, and having a 37-2 season record. His other listed accomplishments are as follows: 1st at Mahopac, 2nd at Princetown Tournament, 1st at Freestyle State Qualifiers, 1st place in Freestyle and 2nd in Folkstyle at South Plainfield. Among his accomplishments, Mariano-Peralta included his status of being undefeated at Jamborees, saying thtat for every person who beat him, he has beat them.  

Mariano-Peralta enjoys wrestling because time and effort are required to see results. Mariano-Peralta raves about the benefits of wrestling:  "I want be challenged to get to the very top and wrestling is the sport I need for it. It's an amazing atmosphere that puts mental and physical limits to the test. It's a very fun way to win and learn!" 

Mariano-Peralta cited Beat The Streets with having taught him how to set goals in life, work hard, and interact with people"[BTS] showed me that for anything I wantthat if I put in the time for something results will happen," said Mariano-Peralta. 

Mariano-Peralta enjoys helping others improve their wrestling technique. He considers himself unique because he's a Latino student who has been in the Honors Class  for three years in a row while also being "a very good gamer." He wants to major in technology  and minor in business one day. 

 

Female Student-Athlete of the Year 

Amnadaliz Eldawaity is a senior at the Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists. She's been wrestling for two years, initially wanting to wrestle to stay fit and to get stronger.  

She considered one of her biggest wrestling accomplishments to be how drastically she's improved. "I went from a beginner to a three time gold medalist. My very first gold medal was earned at my very first PSAL tournament and two more soon came my way," said Eldawaity. 

When asked why she enjoys wrestling, she said the following: "Wrestling is something I hold dearly to my heart. It can be an emotional rollercoaster meaning you are in a constant battle with yourself. A match may not turn out the way you planned but there is still this drive that motivates you to get back up and try again. That's why I love wrestling. You evoke humility which makes you humble yourself. Whether you are winning or losing, you still come out a better person. You learn to be a good sport and what true sportsmanship is. Wrestling has helped me build friendships with opponents, coaches, and even some referees. Wrestling gives you a community and something to look forward to everyday." 

Some fun facts about Eldawaity include having tremendously long hair, being both Egyptian and Puerto Rican, and that she's soon to be her high school's valedictorian. In addition to wrestling, she also loves musicShe plays percussion which includes the piano.  

 

Male Student-Athlete of the Year 

Joseph P. DiForte, Jr., is a senior at Michael J. Petrides High School and will be attending SUNY Maritime in the fall. He has been wrestling since he was 5 years old and started because his dad was a BTS youth wrestling coach. Over his 13-year career wrestling career, he lists his accomplishments as the following: "Three-time DII City Champ; MOW of the City Championship Tournament this year; DII Sportsmanship winner at States (Carried the flag at opening ceremonies); Mayors cup finalist; Staten Island Advance All Star; 130 high school career wins; Three year captain of my wrestling team leading our team to two City Championship finals and three DII City Championships." 

DiForte enjoys wrestling because he "loves camaraderie and brotherhood and mutual respect between wrestlers." He says he also loves being coached by his father and having his younger brother as a teammateHe describes the feeling he has when winning a wrestling match as the best feeling in the world and better than when he wins at any other sports he plays. 

Among his other activitiesDiForte has played four years of football and was chosen to be captain during his senior year. DiForte received the Pinstripe MVP Scholar Athlete Award and played in the Fugazzi Bowl – All Star Game. Additionally, DiForte was voted Secretary of the Student Body. He also plays tenor and alto saxophone in school jazz Band.  

 

GRIT Award 

Yonefry Polanco is a senior at World View High School. Polanco initially joined wrestling in freshman year because he was overweight at 240 lbs. He quickly shed the 80 pounds and dropped down to 160 lbs. After the weight loss, Polanco stuck with wrestling because he was hooked -- "It's like a religion to me now. When I wake up, I just think about wrestling. You get to see yourself get better every day. You get to go through a lot of struggles and at the end of the day,  you feel satisfied with yourself." He also enjoys wrestling because he now knows that he can always push himself to the next level and that there are no limits. He also enjoys that he gets to meet new people every day. He's grateful for the father-figures that he has gained with Beat the Streets. He's likens the experience to "meeting family on the mat." Besides the significant weight loss, another notable accomplishment of Polanco's is being awarded the 2015 All-American Athlete Award by The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He was also a City Finalist this year at 160lbs. Something unique about Polanco is his eagerness to help pass on wrestling to youth, having even commuted two hours from the Bronx to deep Brooklyn to help Penn Gottfried, coach and Junior League Director, at youth practices. Polanco has demonstrated extreme  

 

LADY LIBERTY Award 

Pearl Fletcher is a senior at Harry S. Truman High School and will be attending SUNY Cortland in the fall. She has been wrestling for four years. Though she entered Truman's doors as a freshman wanting to play football with the guys, she was instead encouraged to join the boy's wrestling team and has loved it since. By sophomore year, she helped her coach create the girls wrestling team, which she named as an accomplishment because it helped girls wrestling grow  

She cites another of her wrestling accomplishments as placing second in the city as a team, referring to the PSAL Girls Dual Meet Championships, which Brooklyn Tech won after a hard-won battle at the 2016 BTS Benefit. Additional accomplishments she lists include placing 6th in the Boys Cities Championships in 2016, 5th at the Boys Cities championship in 2017, 2nd at girls cities championship in 2015, 1st at Girls City Championship in 2016, 8th in the country at Cadet Fargo Nationals in 2015, 3rd in Gotham City Girls Open Championship in 2015 and 2017, and 1st at Girls Folk style States. 

When asked why she enjoys wrestling, she describes several reasons: "the sport has pushed me past my limits and helped me build a stronger, more hardworking character. The one thing about wrestling that I enjoy the most is the growthnot just of myself or of my  teammates, but of the sport, as well." 

When asked about some things unique about herself, Fletcher responded with the following: "Rollerblading is a really fun thing I do other than wrestling. It helps sometimes with losing some weight before a tournament or match. I also love to rap, sing and dance to old school hip hop music. It is actually a wrestling ritual I have before every match or tournament to rap some Biggie, Tupac, Wu-tang, Eazy-E and others. You will also never catch me wrestling without some funky old school hip hop artist socks on-- it's something that makes me stand out and shows who I truly am." 

 

ATLAS Award and Become Your Own Dream Scholarship Winner 

Brandon Nunez is a senior at John Bowne High School. In the fall, he will be attending Rhode Island College, where he will continue wrestling. Nunez started wrestling in his freshman year. As a UFC fan, he initially wanted to do MMA. Joining the wrestling team allowed him to pursue a combat sport. His accomplishments include being a three-time City Champion, four-time All American (once in Freestyle and three times in Greco), and NY State Champ. He enjoys wrestling because of the opportunities he's been given and the great life lessons he's learned. He wants to be a physical therapist in the future.   

 

 

COACHES 

Junior League Coach of the Year 

Dmitriy Landa is a coach at the Elite Wrestling Academy and has been coaching for many years. He started after graduating from the Belorussian State University of Physical Training in 1990. H e has a Bachelor's degree in professional coaching of wrestling and sports education. His first position was a Greco-Roman wrestling coach at Specialized Secondary wrestling School for the Olypics Reserves in Minsk, Belarus 

Landa has raised and prepared a number of Belarusian National champions and medalists. His students successfully competed on the CadetJunior EuropeanWorld Championships, as well as numerous other international arenas. 

Landa continued his impressive coaching career in the United States. He prepared bronze medalist of the US University Nationals, several champions of the Empire State Games, a senior Northeast Regional champion in Greco-Roman wrestling, a number of NY State and Regional youth champions and place winners in Folkstyle, Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, National medalists and four All-Americans. 

When asked why he coaches wrestling, Landa responded "For me, wrestling is a way of life when life is a way of wrestling." He began wrestling when he walked into a wrestling school for at the first time at 11 years old. Since then, wrestling has been his "passion and lifestyle."  

Landa had plenty of accomplishments during his own wrestling career: "I was a National Belorussian champion and place winner and successfully competed in the USSR National events. I earned the title of 'USSR Master of Sport' in Greco-Roman wrestling." He said that despite these accomplishments, he was not satisfied with his performance as an athlete, and that largely influenced him to become a wrestling coach.  

"I wanted to deliver my experience, knowledge and passion to the new generation of championsIn the United States, after assisting in different wrestling clubs, I started my own wrestling program," said Landa. In 2009,  Landa started the Elite Wrestling Academy, which partnered with Beat the Streets  afterwards so that Elite students participate in BTS events. 

When asked why Landa became a coach and what he enjoys about coaching he said the following: "I could not imagine my life without wrestling. Coaching is a way to express myself, as well as a chance to promote wrestling. Also, wrestling is a tool for development of character, intellect, and spirit. I really think my greatest accomplishment is that my students will not only achieve success in wrestling, but will become good citizens, successful professionals, and healthy and happy people." 

Landa keeps a healthy lifestyle outside of wrestling. He enjoys spending time with family and friends, He loves pets (he has two cats and a fish tank), nature and outdoor activities. Landa also wanted to say this: "...last, but not least, all my current success would be impossible without my wife Natalia, her complete support and ultimate understanding of my wrestling and coaching lifestyle."  

 

High School Assistant Coach of the Year 

Jonathan Khoury has been a coach at the Eagle Academy for Young Men for the last three years. He's been coaching for six years altogether, though, including his time at Holley High School (2011-2012) and Long Beach High School (2012-2014)   

Khoury considers his coaching accomplishments to include that he's coached three state champions (Quinton Murphy2012; Jacori Teemer2014; Nathaniel Rose, 2015) and five All- State wrestlers (Casey Sauer, 3rd in 2012; Andrew Flanagan, 4th in 2012; Mike Silvis, 5th in 2012; Steve Sewkumar, 3rd in 2013; Daniel Bogie, 6th 2017). 

Why does he coach wrestling? "I coach wrestling for my deep love and passion for the sport, for what it has done for meand for what I can give back in the form of coaching.  I wholeheartedly believe that wrestling has shaped me into the person I am today. I intend to foster the universal values of hard work, discipline and perseverance onto my young athletes.  Furthermore, I started coaching my senior year of college during my student teaching. My teacher supervisor asked me to help out with his team. Since then, I've been in love with coaching." 

He became a coach due his experiences of being coached by tough yet compassionate and loving people, who he named as Ray Adams, Leo Palacio, Miguel Rodriguez. His goal is to use these same traits to guide his own athletes to successful experiences, on and off the mat. Observing the mental, physical and emotional growth process of his athletes is what Khoury most enjoys about coaching. He tries to make every day as fun and enjoyable as possible throughout the season.  

What are some fun facts that make Khoury unique? "I am Greek and Egyptian.  I teach Phys. Ed, Health and Reading at Eagle AcademyEven though I grew up in Long Beach, NY, I truly only learned the correct way to swim in college-- away from the beach!"   

 

Girls High School Coach of the Year 

Dave Kantrowitz has been coaching at the Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists (BSSWA) for three years. When he started working at Bronx Studio in 2014 as a PE Teacher and Athletic Director, he "created the wrestling program from scratch." He worked with Ken Bigley to get the Junior League Team started, as well as the Boy's Varsity team that same year. Last year,  BSSWA moved their winter team into the Blended league to include girls on the roster. This was soon followed with the creation of BSSWA's Girls Freestlye program in the spring.  Kantrowitz was excited to talk about the growth and accomplishments of his girls this season: "We have had champions and multiple place winners at every tournament thus far! We have over 25 girls in our wrestling program throughout the year-- this may not sound like a lot, but we only have 180 girls in the school!" 

Kantrowitz became a coach to not only spread his passion for wrestling, but to also provide the BSSWA student-athletewith a relatively unconventional alternative to basketball or other popular NYC sports. Kantrowitz described his favorite part of coaching as being when he gets to see the "I got it moments" when kids finally perfect a move or really come to understand a technique or concept. 

Regarding his other hobbies or fun facts about himself, Kantrowitz said this: "After the end of my competitive wrestling career, I started to compete in bodybuilding and won the title of Mr. New York in 2012!" 

 

Boys High School Coach of the Year 

Stephen Perez, a coach at Grand Street Campus who has been coaching for four years now. Among his coaching accomplishments, he includes he and the coaching staff have coached eight Individual PSAL City Champions over the course of four years. He believes that this year was an improvement from previous years-- as a team during, Grand Street reached the semifinals  during playoffs for the first time since Perez has been head coach at Grand Street.   

Perez knew he wanted to coach wrestling since the day he ended his wrestling career as a competitor. Perez began Judo when he was a young boy and started wrestling in high school.     "[Wrestling] changed almost every aspect of my life from the people I hang out with to my everyday lifestyle. It has given me a vehicle to travel the around the world to I might have never been to if I wasn’t competing in this sport. I have created lifelong friends from the sport." Perez credits wrestling with beginning his career as a Physical Education teacher and a coach, "where I get to mentor young people every day." Coach John Zarcone, founder of the Grand Street Campus program, gave Perez the opportunity to become an Assistant Coach at Grand Street for a season before he took over as Head Coach.  

Perez enjoys seeing the wrestlers develop through their adversities and triumphs.  "Although I am still young, being surrounded by today's youth makes me feel even younger than I really am." 

What are some fun facts about him that make him even more unique? Perez is a  second-degree black belt in Judo and was a professional MMA fighter before teaching and coaching 

 

Volunteer of the Year 

Andy Martinez has been coaching for the last four years with various schools. Martinez has helped coach at Information Technology High School (his alma mater), Grover Cleveland High School, Flushing High School, Townsend Harris High School, and, currently, Truman High SchoolMartinez raves about the environment at Truman: "It’s a great environment to be in because Coach Cook brings such positivity into the room. He knows how to coach a room and is always eager to bring new ideas into the room. He is constantly learning from Coach Davis at Columbia University on Sundays. It’s a pleasure to surround myself with the right people every day."    

Among his coaching accomplishments, he includes that he's helped coach 10 All City Placers (1st- 8th place), two City Finalists, two City Champions, a Greco State Champion,  and four National Qualifiers. He also includes that he helped with Townsend Harris' appearance in the playoff (Top 8—Blended League)  

Why did you become a coach? "I become a coach because William Yee asked me to help improve his wrestling technique in the summer of 2012. Without his stubbornness of telling me to help coach him and the team, I wouldn’t have been an assistant coach for the Public School Athletic League. Another person that played a big factor was Coach Kilian.  He always looked out for me and encouraged me to get more involved with Beat the Streets. Surely, I listened and learned various techniques, body language, communication, mindset, and professionalism from various coaches and clinicians throughout New York City." 

What do you enjoy about coaching? "I enjoy the relationships I build with student athletes. I love to see how progress is made and how well they develop on and off the mat. There are times that a student gets frustrated and I have to re-explain it until they can successfully perform the maneuver. When they accomplish the small task, they feel sense of relief that it finally makes sense."  

What are some other hobbies or fun facts that make you even more unique?   "A couple years ago, a car ran over my toes when I was standing by a curve. I decided not sue because I didn’t want to miss a day of class. Also, I took a softball course when I was a physical education major and flunked it because I couldn’t hit or catch a ball." 

 

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