Honoring the Men who Made Us Who We Are
I was eight years old when my father stepped back on the wrestling mat after more than twenty years. His first opponent turned out to be one of the best wrestlers in the high school’s history, a hulking, punishing, future Marine. That matchup was no mistake; it was a trial by fire.
He made it through that first day and kept going until I graduated from high school. He was 55. His choice to throw his hat onto the mat was a formative experience for me; coming with him to practices and matches, watching him interact with my boyhood heroes. Looking back what really influenced me was his passion for the sport and for life.
The Gift that Says More
This Father’s Day I want to show my father how much his exuberance for life influenced me. And a tie just won’t do. That’s why I’m dedicating a donation to Beat the Streets in his honor.
Beat the Streets funds a program that is expanding wrestling into urban New York areas for middle school and high school students who otherwise would not be exposed to the world’s oldest sport. Wrestling builds confidence and capabilities for young people and helps them develop mental toughness and work ethics. These inherent requirements are critical to success in every sport as well as to success in academics and to success in life.
I learned about Beat the Streets when they were promoting their annual gala. Each year, Beat the Streets celebrates wrestling with some of the thousands of students whose lives they’ve touched. This year their Main Event was conducted on the deck of the USS Intrepid with over 1,200 people witnessing some of the nation’s top wrestlers including several wrestlers from Beat the Streets.
Athletes of all shapes and sizes can excel and enjoy wrestling. And all can benefit from the physical activity, strength and healthy self-esteem that come along with the sport.
My father was never a coach, never paid, and never came back excited that he was able to beat a wrestler. He was patient, helpful, and enthusiastic with every wrestler. His team’s wins and losses mattered in the moment, but they weren’t held onto with ego or regret. My father wrestled because he loved the sport. That passion is what I carry with me every day, and what I want to give back.
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