This Wednesday, March 30, the Harriman Club and Gerry Clubs met for an exciting evening of competition at the Boys Club Championships, located at the Gerry Clubhouse in Harlem. Of special note was that the two coaches of the clubs, Konstantin Parfiryev and Miguel Perez, are both Beat the Streets alumni, showing that the values of the organization lead its alumni to want to give back and help others.
The Harriman Club, located on the Lower East Side, was headed by Coach Konstantin Parfiryev, and the hosting Gerry Club was led by Coach Miguel Perez. In total, about forty participants came out in the Explorers and Juniors age ranges, meaning some of the athletes were as young as 10 years old.
Penn Gottfried, a Beat the Streets coach who attended the event, said "the level of parental support was awesome. Everyone was having a good time,” observing that there appeared to be a lot of support behind the program from both coaches and parents. Plus, “the kids were loving it.” Kids would cheer on their teammates and show that they were highly enthusiastic about the sport of wrestling. There was even an announcer calling out the matches and contributing to the lively nature of the event.
According to Parfiryev, “it went great because the kids had fun." The most important thing, he says, is for the young athletes to enjoy themselves and the sport of wrestling. “BTS did a great job setting up this event – not only did the kids enjoy it, but their parents enjoyed it, as well.” Parfiryev himself is doing a great deal of work facilitating that experience.
Parfiryev has coached at Harriman since last year and witnessed the growth of the club wrestling scene. Unfortunately, one club dropped wrestling since last year, but as Parfiryev puts it, “on the bright side, both remaining clubs had many more children than last year.” Youth wrestling at Gerry and Harriman seems to have taken hold and inspired more boys to join.
Parfiryev’s time with Beat the Streets began with attendance at regular practices during his high school wrestling career, which he credits with helping him place at States. “It pushed me to keep on doing wrestling for myself,” he said. “After I graduated high school, they sent me out to start coaching to share my experience.” He was happy to reciprocate, helping at the Top of the Podium summer camp last year and the Big Apple Games.
Parfiryev and Perez knew each other from Beat the Streets, as well. Even though they were different weight classes, they would attend the same tournaments and regularly see one another at practices. Wednesday's event was a fun reunion for the two coaches and a way to show that BTS regularly inspires its alumni to give back.
When it comes to the future of Harriman, Parfiryev is optimistic. “It looks like it’s going to keep growing...there were many more new kids this year who were very enthusiastic.” Both Harriman and Gerry plan to continue their programs after their successes this season, with Gerry even planning to extend its current season, contributing to the relatively new development of wrestling in the Boys Clubs of New York City.
Support and excitement from the parents suggests that some families will be more likely to encourage their kids to stick with the sport. A few kids even came up to Parfiryev after the tournament and told him that they are planning to start attending BTS’s regular practices. We congratulate everyone on their participation in the tournament and hope to see each of you at our Manhattan Training Center!