Thought I needed to share with you a few incredible things that happened OFF THE MATS this winter that speak to the power of our program?s culture and I?m sure will make you proud!
For any of you not keeping count (I hope you have better things to do than keep track of this!), I just finished my 15th year coaching wrestling at Edgemont. So much has changed with our program over the last 15 years. Our program has come a long way, and, if I?m being honest, so have I as a coach.
When I first started coaching with Coach George DiChiara as a 24-year old kid, I had very different views on what a coach is and does. In short, I was competitive and I wanted to win. Still do - I?m a very competitive person. What I didn?t really spend a lot of time thinking about then, though, is the ?big picture? - the culture of our team and our program, what it means to be an Edgemont Wrestler and what are the most important things we all take away from our time in the program.
Now, I think about the culture of our program a lot. So many people - so many coaches! - ?Young Pete? included - fail to realize that your culture is what enables you to win. It?s a pre-requisite!
I think about these two quotes a lot in the context of Edgemont Wrestling and they both have everything to do with our success.
I figured this would be a great chance to pull back the curtain some more and give you some impactful examples of our culture at work this season.
Helping our own
Most of you know that our team takes part in a community service project in one form or another every year - we?ve worked with Habitat for Humanity, volunteered at a youth center for at-risk children and helped clear public park land after Hurricane Sandy. This year our project was one particularly close to our hearts:
As many of you know, Robert Schwartz, father of our senior wrestler Mike Schwartz, passed away after a battle with cancer right as the wrestling season was starting. In dealing with this tremendous loss, our program did what it?s done many times before - take care of our wrestling family. As a gesture of our support, we decided to use our match against Irvington as an opportunity to raise funds for the American Cancer Society and to make a donation in memory of Robert Schwartz. Our guys worked so hard to spread the word and pack the gym for this event. In the end we raised over $1,600 dollars through the hard work of our wrestlers and the generosity of our families and our community! (We also won a hard-fought match that night!)
Representing our program
The culture of Edgemont Wrestling also extends well-beyond giving back to the community and taking care of our own. It also involves representing ourselves in a way that will make our community, families and alumni proud.
That?s always been something we focus on, not for any kind of recognition, but simply because it?s the right thing to do. We can?t expect to develop men and women of character if we?re not asking ourselves to live that example as coaches and student-athletes.
Well, for the first time this season, the Section One Officials Association created a Team Sportsmanship award to be given to the program that best exemplifies this quality in its student-athletes and coaches, top to bottom. I?m so proud to let you know that out of the over 50 teams in Section 1 the Officials Association chose to honor Edgemont with this distinction!
Another awesome example of our culture of excellence being recognized from the outside in ways that extend far beyond our competitive success!
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The end of each wrestling season is always bitter-sweet. It?s a chance to take a deep breath and reflect on what our student-athletes and our team have accomplished. They always seem to give us a lot to be proud of!It?s also sad, though.
Our wrestling program gives us, the coaches, this amazing opportunity to work with each of our student-athletes for years and years - some have been in our program since 2nd grade. We see them through the best of times and the worst of times. We?re there for them on the mat and off. We watch them succeed and we watch them fail. And more than anything we watch them grow.
It?s impossible not to develop close ties when you?ve been through so much together, and so it?s always a little sad to see each class of seniors go. We always take solace, though, in the fact that we?ve given them everything we?ve had to help them become their very best - that they're leaving our program as better young men and women than when they arrived.
That?s why it?s so rewarding when you see a group of seniors recognize how much they got out of the experience. This year?s seniors are such a great example of that.
Last week at our end-of-the-season dinner, these guys presented us with a Senior Class Gift back to the program. It was so incredibly moving to see these young men recognize what an impact the program has had on them and pay it forward!They got together and purchased a new Assault Airbike for our program, which we desperately needed as our two Airdynes finally succumbed to ?overuse injuries.? I hear the bike will even be decked out with ?Class of 2017? detailing and blue and white tassels on the handlebars. (Apparently these guys have a sense of humor, too!)
I?ll end off with a huge THANK YOU to those who have already participated in our Annual Giving Campaign. We?re almost half way through the 30-day campaign and currently stand at 23 gifts, bringing our total closer to our goal of 60 donors!It?s always been important to us that our Giving Campaign mirrors the values and philosophies of our program, which is why our goals are always tied to the number of donors rather than a dollar amount. Everything we?ve accomplished as a program, we?ve done all together and this is no different!
Please consider being a part of it. Every gift counts and no amount is too small!
Talk to you soon!
Feed the Panther,