“When Melanie and I sat down and went over her schedule for the Fall, I have to say I wasn't really surprised,” said BTS coach Penn Gottfried. “I would be surprised at any normal person who was balancing wrestling, Jujitsu sessions, and teaching Karate to younger kids, all while doing her schoolwork. But not Mel.”
Melanie Lalman does all of this and more.
Lalman, a Junior at James Baldwin in Manhattan, got involved with wrestling in her freshman year and described it as love at first sight. She’s been involved in other combat sports since she was six years old, starting with karate. “What keeps me interested is the movement, the strive, and the motion,” Lalman says. “Having such positive people around makes me want to continue wrestling even when I don’t get the outcome I wanted.”
She works with kids at the karate school where she still continues to train in the martial arts.
“I love helping out and teaching other kids,” Lalman said. “It’s fun to see the excitement on their faces when they’re doing techniques.”
One funny memory was while a “sword fighting” game while teaching a karate class: “I went against one of the kids and they destroyed me!”
Lalman credits one sport in particular with helping her get out of bad situations: “Wrestling has changed my ways and just made me a better person.”
For the young wrestlers out there looking for inspiration, she urges the kids not to give up. “Just because you don’t see the results you want in a year or two doesn’t mean you won’t see it at all. Give it time and don’t say you can’t. Everyone can.”
“Don’t let negative people and things influence you,” Lalman says. “Give it all you got. Fight through the ache, the pain, the tears, the losses, and keep going. In time, you will get where you want to go and have more opportunities waiting for you, as well.” Lalman is on track to meet her goal of graduating on time in order to join the Marine Corps.
Lalman wants to thank her BTS coaches, including Davis, Gottfried, and Walter Peppelman, for showing her the path she’s on. “I couldn’t have done it without you guys -- I am grateful for all you have done for me.”
The coaches are grateful for her, as well.
“Melanie’s thirst for knowledge and to understand herself and the sport she is learning is only equaled by her desire to give back and help others do the same,” said Gottfried. “I'm glad that the younger kids have such a great role model to look up to.”