Beat The Streets - New York City Wrestling

This summer, Beat the Streets New York, tried a new venture—bringing on a summer intern who is a college wrestler and education major from outside New York. For this pilot program, BTSNY recruited John Martin, a senior and wrestler at Cleveland State University, for the immersive learning experience that further developed his youth coaching skills. From Monday, July 3 to Friday, August 11, Beat the Streets provided a living stipend and housing, while Martin threw himself completely into NYC youth wrestling. 

During the internship, Martin was a counselor for Top of the Podium Day Camp and ran sessions at every site throughout the Big Apple Games. During the first three weeks, he split his mornings and afternoons in Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens and spent his evenings in Manhattan. During his last week, he focused on just Staten Island. He spent the most time at Seward Park Campus in Manhattan, but wrestled the most at Eagle Academy in the Bronx. Martin additionally worked on a P.E. wrestling curriculum. In Martin's PE curriculum, youth in kindergarten to 2nd grade would be introduced to scoring and youth from 3rd through 5th grade would be introduced to basic techniques.  

During his time in NYC, he was mentored by Ken Bigley, BTSNY Programming Consultant and PSAL Wrestling Director, and Jaime Gray, BTS Director of Programming. He was also mentored by every Big Apple Game site coach, each of whom are NYC teachers. Working with the coaches at the sites made Martin think "that could me." 

Coach Sean Coffin of Seward Park, who worked extensively with Martin, had a glowing review of Martin, describing him as a "true asset to NYC this summer." Coffin specifically cited Martin's "unparalleled relentless work ethic, positivity, and commitment to the sport of wrestling." Coffin believed that NYC wrestling has "gained a new coach, mentor and friend in Coach John Martin." 

Gray echoed Coffin in calling Martin an "incredible asset." Gray felt that Martin not only had a chance to experience various parts of NYC's boroughs, but to als"impact lives of our Beat the Streets student-athletes in every borough. 

A large source of Martin's insights and successes this summer were his own experiences as a youth wrestler in Ohio. Martin began wrestling at five years old, which is typical for Ohio youth wrestlers. This was largely due to a much more competitive wrestling culture in the Midwest"A lot of kids began wrestling early so that they had a good grasp of technique and drilling by the time they were in high school," said Martin.   

Martin was competing in youth competitions as early as five, competing in approximately ten tournaments each winter. Martin's wrestling schedule in junior high was already like the one he'd later have in high school. Martin's accomplishments in high school included being a 4x State Qualifier and placing 5th in Ohio at 103 lbs. He now wrestles at 125 lbs in college, and has been a college wrestler for the last three years. 

This wrestling history and upbringing in Ohio greatly influenced how Martin viewed the opportunities offered at Beat the Streets. Though starting at a younger age, Ohio kids didn't have the free training and camp opportunities that BTSNY kids have. During summers, Martin and his team would have to fundraise because camps were too expensive. Martin and his teammates would also wrestle in barns, since it was the more affordable option compared to joining a club.  Martin additionally said that the quality of coaches for free in NYC is better than the quality of free coaches in Ohio. "Open mats were rare," added Martin. Besides the free training and camp opportunitieshe also liked that BTS "is not focused only on wrestling, but also on living a healthy lifestyle." 

Martin strongly emphasized his belief that NYC youth wrestlers should take advantage of every opportunity given to them, especially because of the potential they have. Spending this summer working with NYC youth allowed Martin to see how "engaged and willing to learn" they were. Martin thinks BTSNY kids should be more confident in their skills—"they have solid strength and technique."  

Yusif Noori, a senior at RFK High School, was one of the youth wrestlers who learned from Martin. "Coach John gave me some perspective on what moves, in his opinion, are universally the most reliable. Coach always stuck to the basics claiming that you could beat the best wrestlers if you didn't try to be too fancy,said Noori.  

After completing Cleveland State and getting his teaching license, Martin hopes to explore opportunities in Ohio and NYC that would allow him to teach and coach. As an educator, he would like to teach Social Studies to seventh through 12th graders. Martin would also like to eventually pursue a Masters in Special Education. 

Martin didn't spend all his time in NYC coaching. While in NYC, he visited the American Museum of Natural History, the 9/11 Memorial, Central Park, and the Bronx Zoo. Between these visits and his coaching experiences, Martin surprisingly listed the NYC boroughs worst to best as Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.  

Good luck to Coach John Martin as he completes his senior year! We hope to one day see you come back to NYC as coach and educator.

Beat the Streets Wrestling is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. If you would like to support our mission to improve the lives and futures of New York City public school students by giving them the opportunity to wrestle, please click the donate button below: