Beat The Streets - New York City Wrestling

On Friday, October 20, BTSNY held the first Junior League match night across seven NYC high schoolsThe seven sites were Grand Street (Brooklyn), Wingate (Brooklyn), Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy (Bronx), Edward R. Murrow (Brooklyn), Cardozo HS (Queens), Harry S. Truman (Bronx), and Tottenville (Staten Island)Approximately 80 Junior League wrestlers attended each site, with approximately 35 teams involved citywide.  

 The high school wrestling team, coach and wrestlers, at each site were heavily involved both on and off the mat. Besides high school coaches and wrestlers acting as referees and clinicians, they also took on the role of guide during school tours. This was an opportunity for Junior League coaches, parents, and wrestlers to learn directly from high school wrestling teams and coaches about what the school has to offer in terms of academics and athletics. 

Penn Gottfried, Junior League Director, attended the Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy (RKA) match night, one of the two match nights in the Bronx, which hosted four teams.  What impressed Gottfried at RKA was how many other kids from the school, those who are not even involved with wrestling, attended the match night purely to cheer the Junior League wrestlers on. Additionally, approximately 40 parents attended to support their kids, who hailed from four different Junior League teams. After a clinic run by RKA wrestlers, families were taken on exclusive tours of the RKA campus. The dual meet matches that started soon after created an awesome, contagious energy. Fans, parents, and teammates were "cheering like crazy," said Gottfried. 

Ken Bigley, Programming Consultant and PSAL Wrestling Commissionerattended the match night at Grand Streets Campus.  Five Junior League teams attended this match night, with fair parent engagement, as well. Stephen Perez, Grand Street Head Coach, gave a school tour which ended in the wrestling room. Once in the wrestling room, three Grand Street wrestlers spoke about their academic experience at Grand Street Campus. The matches were held in the main gymnasium after the tour ended.  

Jacque Davis, Girls Development Director, attended the match night at Edward R. Murrow High School in south Brooklyn. Five Junior League teams were in attendance, as well as considerable number of parents and family members. For Davis, the types of family engagement she observed were notable. "Some were hopping on the side of the mat and even coaching, while others were leaning against a wall and cheering from a distance," said Davis. Davis thought it was "really special" to see some parents have knowledge of the sport and coach from the sidelines. 

At Murrow, the assistant coach and a few of the athletes took Junior League coaches, parents, and kids on a small tour of the campus. The tour guides showed them the cafeteria, a few of the departments, the weight room, and the wrestling room. Once everyone was back in the gym, the teams were given a small amount of time to warm up before wrestling. Due to the availability of two mats, two duals were happening simultaneously. Matches were evenly rotated so that each team got a chance to wrestle each other.  

Davis also enjoyed being able to observe the youth wrestlers that south Brooklyn is producing. "The south Brooklyn site is kind of special because you have several clubs down there that train year-round and have all age groups," said Davis. She described how there was a visible difference between kids who train year-round compared to those who don't. Despite this, Davis was able to see a lot of potential in kids who had never wrestled before. "They were hanging in and grinding with some of the best kids that the city has to offer," said Davis. 

Davis also liked to see more responsibility being given to the high school wrestlers in promoting their high schools and the BTS mission. She thought it was "super cool that our high school athletes got to play the role of the referee." While the kids felt a lot of pressure, they got some perspective on how hard the job can be. "I also thought it was important for our middle school kids to see these kids taking on a role and giving back," said Davis.   

James Winn and Josiah Hanna attended the Murrow match night. The two Junior League wrestlers hail from PS 37 in Brooklyn. It is Winn's second year wrestling and Hanna's fourth. Both enjoyed the first match night of the season and had won their matches. "[Wrestling] is a cool and fun sport to play," Winn said with a smile. When asked if Winn has good teammates, he pointed to Hanna and said "This is my good teammate right here!" It turns out they practice together all the time and are best friends. "I felt confident," commented Hanna in regards to his own match. The favorite part of the match for Hanna was "when I won." 

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: