SOMERS, N.Y.— Attaining success after high school is not a given, and Iowa Style Wrestling’s owner John Degl is poised to ensure that many young wrestlers are up for the challenge.
Degl, a Mahopac native and former high school wrestling state champion, once again organized the multifaceted community event at Somers Sports Arena at 245 Route 100 on Tuesday, Oct. 17.
“The event is really focused on getting kids to the right schools,” Degl said. “A lot of kids don’t realize how many opportunities there are. There are a lot of great schools out there for different academic interests. Having that many coaches in one place allowed these guys to get a much more real feel for what’s up their alley.”
The clinic, focused on youth leadership development, supplied high school wrestlers throughout the Hudson Valley with a handful of helpful resources and activities during its four hours.
Kicking off with a coaches’ clinic with tactical instruction by North Carolina State’s head wrestling coach Pat Popolizio, many aspiring wrestling coaches gathered around for insight.
Getting the students involved for the next hour, the college combine began with more than a dozen Division 1 and 3 coaches observing the talent. Each wrestler paired up with another while listening for instructions on tactical improvements from Degl.
“Completely (helps us for the regular season),” Mahopac senior varsity wrestler Christian Brito said. “I joined this club before the season started to get my body used to training but also to get my mind into wrestling season. Past seasons I didn’t really care until the first practice. But if you want to be successful, you’ve got to start before everybody else.”
Physical therapist and founder of Empire Performance in Carmel, Dr. Tony Tanzi attended and conducted complimentary functional-movement screen tests for about 60 wrestlers.
The simple set of movements while holding a stick are evaluated for each student, as the method is proven to effectively prevent injury by spotting points that are prone to injury before they are stressed.
“People in the NFL and NHL all use it,” said Tanzi, the 2004 Mahopac graduate. “It’s almost becoming part of the combine. It looks at the whole body from shoulders, hips and ankles moving together as one, like in the sport. It’s a way for the kids to get ahead and target their training going forward.”
USA Women’s National Wrestling team head coach Terry Steiner even showed up, instructing female wrestlers from the metropolitan area for a rigorous session.
More appealing to the high school wrestler’s parents, Peggy Baratta, ran a one-hour seminar for them to learn about the college application and financial aid process.
Baratta, who is a financial aid representative at Fordham, addressed the must-know facts about FAFSA and its benefits.
College-prep expert and founder of Winning Applications Stephanie Klein-Wassink spoke about the application process and how to construct a stand-out essay on ideal topics.
“We wanted experts to show how to put your best foot forward on the application,” Degl said. “It’s a piece of paper, but it’s dictating a large portion of what your life will be for the rest of your years on Earth. The students need to put thought into it and represent themselves in the best light.”
For the final hour of the gathering, all participating college coaches met with potential recruits to speak about the academic admission process and their respective wrestling programs.
“I’m completely excited,” Brito said. “I can’t wait to talk to these coaches. That’s all I’ve been thinking about these past few months. I definitely want to wrestle in college and am deciding whether I want to go to school for criminal justice or business.”
Iowa Style Wrestling even partnered with the organization Beat the Streets, to allow 13 boys and 13 girls to attend the first-in-class event by providing scholarship and transportation.
Degl, whose clinic continues to grow, trained under the legendary coach Dan Gable at the University of Iowa from 1992-1999. Iowa Style Wrestling has now fostered 81 collegiate wrestlers and prides itself on the motto, ‘Success is a journey and not a destination.’
“Ever since I started coming here, everyone’s friendly,” Brito said. “Within the first few practices I started meeting people. Today was just a fun experience and it really pushed me. I’m ready for the season.”