While the majority of New York City students were relaxing during Spring Break this week, more than 160 Beat the Streets kids converged on the Bayard-Rustin Education Complex (BREC) in Manhattan to take part in BTSNY’s annual Spring Break Training Camp from April 2-5.
The four-day, double session camp saw wrestlers from across boroughs, age groups and experience levels training together in a shared space and learning from both Beat the Streets coaches and guest instructors.
The visiting clinicians – U.S. National Team member and former Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA) collegiate champion Tamyra Mensah & University of the Ozarks (Ark.) head coach and National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Hall of Famer LeRoy Gardner III - attended the camp’s middle sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Mensah led each of Tuesday’s practices - which were made co-ed to maximize her reach among the group – and held a Q&A session with the Beat the Streets coaches to share her knowledge on a variety of topics regarding the sport.
Wednesday saw Gardner and Ozarks assistant coach Jason Schweer split duties with BTSNY coaches Penn Gottfield and Jacque Davis to lead one boys and one girls session each. Gardner was able to individualize his instruction and go into more detail on a variety of techniques.
Penn Gottfried, Coach and BTS Junior League Director
On the camp’s turnout
“This camp was probably the most well attended camp I have been to in my three years at Beat the Streets. Having 160 kids consistently at each session is a testament to the coaches that are pushing their kids to take advantage of the opportunities BTS presents as well as a testament to the passion and hard work of the kids that truly want to get better."
Jacque Davis, Coach and BTS Girls Development Director
On the camp’s turnout
“I was so happy to see the turnout we had, not just with athletes, but coaches as well. The room was so full we had to roll out extra mats to make sure everyone could fit. It was so cool to see people sacrifice their vacation days to better prepare for their season.”
Impressions of the Beat the Streets kids
“The one thing I noticed that I believe is such a beautiful thing is the support the BTS kids have for each other. When the kids volunteered to show what they learned in front of the huge group, the spectators would give a round of applause to each and every individual that demonstrated."
LeRoy Gardner III
On giving back to the sport
“This was a great opportunity to share wrestling with an excellent group. All the students were motivated and excited about learning. We definitely had fun and it makes it so much more enjoyable when athletes are loving the sport. From beginners to more advanced wrestlers, everyone was ready to give one hundred percent and as a coach, that's the beginning of all of it. I am really excited for the future of wrestling in this city and it will be fun to continue to see the growth. A camp like this is a testament to the hard work and effort it took to get New York City’s wrestling to this point.”
Nighyar Calliste, Edward R. Murrow senior
On meeting and learning from Tamyra Mensah
“It was exhilarating to meet someone with such an amazing personality and sense of humor who also wrestles hard to get what she's gotten. She is an Olympian in my eyes and I hope to see her shine in the future and get a chance to wrestle alongside her."
Jayson Gomez, Eagle Academy senior
On getting through camp
“Camp was great! I went into the week beat up and not wanting to wrestle, but everyone was having fun and the family atmosphere really helped me push through the pain.”
- The growth and improvement among the city’s wrestlers has not gone unnoticed among college coaches. On the girls’ side, Nassau Community College head coach Sam Thomas and Waldorf (Iowa) University assistant coach Gabrielle Lord-Klein made appearances to watch practices. “Having coaches come watch our girls and recruit for their colleges is huge and indicates that New York women’s wrestling is not only on the map but worth a college coach’s time to watch on their free time,” Davis said. Gottfried echoed the same sentiments when reflecting on Coach Gardner’s appearance at the camp. “It was awesome that Coach Gardner and his staff came up to the camp. Their presence showed our kids that wrestling isn’t just a sport but a path toward a great future,” said Gottfried.
- The week’s activities were not confined to the mats at BREC. After Thursday’s final session, BTSNY partnered with UPS to hold a Career Fair that was available for interested students, coaches, and parents. As a reward for campers with the best attendance, Beat the Streets held a private screening of Marvel Studios’ Black Panther at Regal Cinemas theatre in Union Square.