Wrestling comes to Webutuck Central School District

Webutuck high schoolers Michael Johnson, left, and Lucas Vallely, right, watched their classmate Degan Bracey grapple with coach Thomas Monteverde at a recent practice session of the school’s new wrestling club.

Judith O'Hara Balfe

Wrestling comes to Webutuck Central School District

AMENIA — On a recent Monday at 2:15 p.m., three high school students and a high school science teacher met in the middle school cafeteria of the Webutuck Central School District for wrestling practice.

The school established the wrestling club earlier this year in response to a proposal from Coach Thomas Monteverde and the interest of several students; the first meeting took place in late November.

Monteverde, who has been teaching high school science at Webutuck for six years, now runs and coaches the club.

Lucas Vallely, 15, Michael Johnson, 16 and Degan Bracey, 16, are just three of the 14 boys who have already joined the team (the boys rotate through sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays so that everyone gets a chance to practice).

Johnson said he’d been doing some wrestling before the club started. He rounded up a few fellow students to join, he said.

Vallely said that he decided to check it out because he’s watched wrestling on television.

“It’s more fun than it looks,” Vallely observed.’

The boys look forward to these sessions, where they learn moves and get to try them out on each other and the coach.

Wrestling is a very precise and deliberate sport, Monteverde explained. At first, he said, the boys were surprised that wrestling wasn’t just getting down and dirty and rolling around in weird positions.

The moves you see, the ones that look swift and deadly and bring an opponent to the ground, he explained, don’t come through luck or from strength, but through smart technical, almost scientific, motions.

“It’s really an individual sport rather than a team sport,” Monteverde said.

Monteverde, who had been a wrestler when he was in high school, loves the sport, and loves teaching it.

“It’s a really great sport for small school districts because it works with small numbers of students,” said Monteverde. “And it’s not expensive. It doesn’t cost much to start out, just the shoes, the mouth guard and the head guard.”

The school district paid for the mats, the headgear and some of the other materials; the boys supplied their own shoes and mouth pieces.

He also noted that wrestling teaches transferable skills, citing law enforcement, military training and other careers.

“It requires effort but not great physical strength, as matches are based on weight classes. It does take great skill to be successful, however,” said Monteverde. “It’s fun for an individual with a competitive spirit.”

Bracey grinned and quipped, “I just wanted to throw people.”

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