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The axe fell last year. For fiscal reasons, Paterson decided to eliminate the wrestling program. This was a deathblow to the team: coaches were let go, the team either wrestled elsewhere or lost interest, the mats and equipment were not taken care of or stolen. The sport was forgotten. Last month, I was hired to recruit and train a wrestling team entirely from scratch. Now, I have 12 kids (and slowly growing) who are enthusiastic about learning (I spoke to hundreds). That's 12 first year wrestlers from various schools in Paterson who I'm breaking in to represent the city. 12 student athletes whose lives I’m hoping to change forever through the sport. With wrestling, many of the characteristics that it instills translate directly to the classroom. I proudly credit my success in college with the lessons wrestling taught me. Hard work, dedication, unrelenting pursuit of goals, never giving up, are a few of the attributes that become a part of the wrestlers. I've been putting my own money into this. The team needs shoes, headgear, a mop, a bucket, you name it - I have basically nothing. I’ve got kids wrestling barefoot, kids without a change of clothes after practice, kids who don’t have the same privileges I had growing up, like constant access to a washer and dryer. Athletics play a special part in the development of our youth. Educators speak of grit, hard work, and resilience. They speak of instilling those qualities upon the students, but the student athletes are the ones who are reborn in this. Through pain, emotion, sweat, tears, triumph, and perseverance they are forged into individuals better equipped for life after high school.Read more