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Wrestling Dinner Speech- Brett Emanuel- Feb 2011
Although I started this season like all of the rest, dreading wrestling season, I have come to love not necessarily the sport, but rather the experiences and lessons obtained through it. This grueling season has enabled me to surpass obstacles, in all aspects of life, that without wrestling I don’t believe would have been possible. Wrestling season is a collaboration of the most extreme emotions. A single practice can evoke polar emotions, from breaking down mentally and crying, to experiencing euphoria. This ability that wrestling has, molds us wrestlers into the determined and strong-willed individuals we are today. Although all wrestlers’ responses to the conclusion of the season seem to be positive, there are underlying feelings of regret and emptiness. Initially reflecting upon the season, I felt like I had accomplished nothing after four years of both physical and mental detriment. However, after reevaluating more holistically, I have realized there is nothing that could have replaced the experience of shedding blood, sweat and tears with the kids in this room, day in and day out. I also would like to thank my coaches, teammates and parents for always supporting me and keeping my best interests in mind.

Dennis DiSanto- The top five greatest Somers Wrestling Matches that i have coached:

1997- Somers vs.  Ossining- Both teams are undefeated and Ossining has not lost a league match in four years. It is the last match of the season for both teams; a win would give Somers a league and conference championship and an undefeated season. Lead by seniors Mike Sperandio (NYS runner-up), Brian Foran (who went on the wrestle at Princeton) and Brett Rackoff (who wrestled at Muhlenberg ) Somers squeaked out a 39-37 win, clinching it with Sperandio’s pin at 189 pounds.
1999- Somers traveled to Sleepy Hollow for a conference match. Sleepy Hollow had five wrestlers ranked 1st in Section One and was ranked 1st in Section One as a team. Lead by Sophomores Mark Jean (now a Doctor) and three time Section One Champion Brian Mullaney, the Tuskers pulled out a 37-35 victory, finishing 12-1 on the season with the only loss coming against Ossining. 
2000- It was Somers vs. Ossining again for the league, Conference and once again undefeated season. Lead by seniors Joe Mifsud, Anthony Carrozza (Section One champion-MOW), Nate Vieira (3rd in Section) Dylan Carey (2nd in Section) and Juniors Brian Mullaney (3x Section One Champion), Rui DaCosta (Section One champion), Jason Scorano (Section One Champion) and Mark Jean (4th in Section) Somers won 34-27.
2001- Last match of the year for undefeated Somers vs. undefeated New Rochelle. It wasn’t for a league or conference champion, just a match between two great teams. Somers won 30-27 to extend its win streak to two years and 26 consecutive matches. On this great Somers team, eleven of the starters went on to either win or place in the Sectionals. 
2011- Somers vs. Mahopac- Too early to write about but I will at the end of the season.

How Kids Lose when Everyone Gets a Trophy

It has come to my attention that children playing sports today get too many trophies. From what I've seen working in the schools for the past seven years, most children have more trophies than I have socks.

I wonder whom exactly this serves. Unlike today's kids, I can say I actually played sports for years without winning a single trophy— yet, what my athletic career taught me transcended the lessons learned on the

My life without trophies goes back to when my brother's little league team won two straight championship

trophies. I decided that I needed one of those. Playing in prelittle league, my team finished first, but no trophy was awarded. This was tough to swallow—but I looked ahead anyway. The lineup from my brother's team had mostly moved on, but many of the same last names remained by the time I got there, which meant we had a good chance for our own hardware.

The little brothers played well but late in the season we came up short of 1st place after losing to the perennial bottom feeders in the league. We left the field in shock, but even with no trophy, I took pride as a contributor to a good team that didn't shine quite as bright as our lineage.

I did earn an all-star trophy the following year, and then had to survive until my junior year in high school

without any manufactured glory.

I won a third place medal after three years of wrestling at Somers High School, but its dull glare meant

little compared to what the experience taught me. My junior year I suffered weekly losses to two freshman teammates. It was, in a word, emasculating.

I hit bottom losing a junior varsity match in Mount Vernon to another freshman. That night, I got on the team bus, threw a coat over my head and cried. I had become a worse wrestler as a junior than when I began two years earlier. I had little reason to continue, especially considering the gut wrenching two and a half hour practices.

If this story was from Hollywood, a sectional championship would have followed, but this was real life.

Slowly it began to click and wrestling became like writing poetry, as all my moves had a melodic rhythm to

them. I earned a varsity slot and a chance to wrestle in the sectionals.

In the semi-finals of the qualifying tournament, I had my opponent facing up, with the finals clearly in my sights. Overeager, I ended up getting pinned, but still qualified for the sectionals. The following week, I wrestled the top-rated 98-pounder in the county to a first period draw before he showed me the ceiling and ended my season.

Afterwards, my coach gave me a measured compliment that didn't over-dramatize my efforts. "You're coming along just like your brother," he said, in describing another Monetti who didn't star but endured.

My perseverance ended an adolescent catastrophe, and I didn't have to wear a coat on my head. More importantly, I've drawn upon the experience in my real life struggles.

So why do parents today rob children of the chance to provide their own rewards and learn important life lessons? Could it be the guilt that accumulates over 60-hour workweeks that makes parents want to give their

children more rewards than they actually need? How about the chance for parents to erase past failures through their children's successes? I think these reasons contribute, but probably not significantly.

More likely, various organizations started this practice and it spread. From there, parents might not have wanted

to come off as ogres in the community by objecting. In my less than scientific research, most parents are against distributing too many trophies. Maybe finding a more middle ground solution simply means a little assertiveness and a show of hands at the next soccer game.

Even the kids are starting to understand. One parent told me that after receiving a soccer trophy for best

goal of the year (kicked in from midfield), his son was satisfied that "this trophy actually counts."

The Match
    by Peter Johnson

    My opponent will be tough, but I will be tougher.  My adversary will
be smart, but I will be smarter.  The mat is where I live and I aint
letting no one up in my crib.  All my focus is in my match.  I am
mentally prepared.  As I walk to the table with my arms refreshed by
Brian’s arm shakes, I meet my opponent, my enemy.  I will not let a kid
who dissed my mom win.  I walk on the mat.  If I had Superman’s heat
vision, I would have melted a hole right through him because I was
focusing on him so hard.  I go out and shake with my right hand and
only my right hand.  The whistle blows and at that super
duper-micro-nano second, I take a shot; a high crotch and he is totally
not expecting it and he goes down and I get my two points.  He tries to
stand up, but I throw him down to the ground, down way to the ground.
I hope he learned his lesson about standing up.  He tries a switch, but
I don’t let him (yes) and we both end up back in neutral.  He is
expecting me to shoot, but I tie up with him and rough him up.  His
ankle comes forward and B-A-M, I come in with an ankle pick and his
back slams on the mat with a W-H-O-M-P !!  He is knocked out-of-wind and he
can barely breathe, but he manages to belly-out.  The score is now 4-1;
meeeee!  I’m trying to work the cross-face cradle, no wait, the cross-face
AND craddle, but he turns into me and I do the corkscrew.  I get him over
and somehow I can’t pin him and I only get two back points when he overturns
me.  Awwww, God I forgot to get perpendicular with him and I got turned now
I’m on my back with the score 6-3, but I look at coach screaming,
“Belly-out!”  Jay is going crazy.  I notice Robin, Jay’s girlfriend, in the
stands, but I remember not to focus on the crowd and I belly-out
like coach said.  The kid puts the half on me and I peel his fingers
back remembering that if the fingers break, they break!  I get the
fingers off and he yells, “Ouch!”  But he takes his hand off.  It is
the end of the 1st period and I can tell his is tired, but Jay says,
“PETER, YOU’RE NOT TIRED!”  So I’m not tired and I feel the energy rise
through my body and I get the rush of adrenaline.  I get back out there
and I’m on bottom and all I can hear is Disanto yelling, “Stand up
Peter, explode!!”  Roary yells, “Yeah Peter, you are so super-awesomer
than a grizzly bear.  Go get that boy!!”  So I listen to my coaches and
I feel the grizzly bear in my soul roar like crazy and I know that is
the roar of the grizzly because I’m not hungry.  So I explode but my
footing gets weird and I fall back down.  I move around and I hear,
“Again!”  So I do it and escape while head-butting the kid and he says,
“Ouch!”  Now the score is 7-3.  I take the kid down again with a big
SMACK!  The crowd goes OMG!   So the grizzly in me roars again and I
toss him to his back with the half-nelson and I look at the score for
some reason which now is glowing with some magical force saying 9-3 and
I squeeeeeze the kid, then I hear Kyle Turchick yell, "SQUEEEEEEEEEZE!!”  I
squeeze the kid with all my might and I hear the
with 28 seconds left in the period and I win by a pin!!  I am very happy and
Disanto goes, “Good, man…way to go.” Peterson goes, “Alright, now that’s
some good wrestling.”  Jay’s girlfriend says, “Way to wrestle Peter, you are
sooo strong, yayya.”  Jay goes, “ PETER, YOU FOUGHT GOOD, WHOA!”  And Roary
says, “Whoopie, yeah lets go Pet-er, cha-cha, chacha-cha, hooray.  You’re so
good, I’m jealous!”  I WON!

Wrestling Dinner Speech 2008 - Chris Gross

I'd like to thank the academy…wait wrong speech… let me start over
J.C. Quinn once said “It ain't the six minutes... it's what happens in that six minutes.” During the last four years, that has described the mentality that has been drilled, executed, and eventually pinned down into all of our minds. From intense practices, to having to cut anywhere from 1-7 pounds in one night, we have all learned something. Never stop until you hear the whistle blow. Coming into wrestling freshman year I knew that I was going to have to push myself a lot harder than most people to achieve the level that I wanted. Well personally, I think that I've worked to that potential, and got to that status, and although I might not have shown it, I at least learned a lot of life lessons along the way. What am I going to remember the from 7th grade wrestling to now? The years, they were fun.
7th grade- If I could sum it up, a learning experience, but the one thing I will remember from 7th grade is pinning Nick Forte in 8 seconds. I thought it was amazing and to this day I still bring it up.
8th grade- This is where all of the traditions started, from knee football, to jacks kings and queens and dance offs, wow those were the days. Funny story about eighth grade, I remember one day close to the end of the season,  Boyd and Callan took their boxers and put them on their heads, put on Faith by Limp Bizkit and took lax sticks, they then proceeded to sing and play the air guitar. 
From freshman year to this year, I'm going to remember having to come into the wrestling room every day and watch Coach DiSanto lace up his purple, black and white wrestling shoes, hearing numerous off the cuff comments from Brenneman, mainly aimed at me. Or seeing Rackoff for the first time, it was when I first met him that I knew we had a solid 112 pounder. These past four years have been a blast. I have been scared of Breneman since day 1 of freshman year, I said something wrong and all of a sudden I was on my back and Breneman put some move on me and it hurt more than you could imagine.
Im also going to warn you, next year, I will not be making the highlight film. Ronnie and I have spent so long on these films, I'm glad to see that they came out good. So who ever is doing it next year, I'm not helping with it…..good luck
Now I am talking on behalf of all the seniors on the team. Coach, how have you put up with our antics for the last four years? Well on behalf of all of the seniors, I want to say get rid of your purple shoes and take these…
Now for the thank you’s
I'd like to thank the athletic department for making these 4 years, the best four years of our lives. I’d like to thank my uncle who first got me interested in wrestling through listening to his stories about his glory days. Now I have my own glory days to talk about. I'd like to thank my parents who never stopped believing in me, who always told me that I had to work hard to get my spot, I love you mom and dad. I'd like to thank Ronnie's dad, geez Mr.DiSanto, if it wasn’t for you I probably would have been playing basketball. You taught me the basics and got me on my feet, thank you. I'd like to thank Mullen for letting us hang in his office every once in a while and for fixing us when we were broke. And above all to coaches DiSanto, Brennamen, and Rackoff, if it wasn’t for you guys, I wouldn’t be standing up here tonight as a wrestler, I'd be standing here as a regular kid who pretends to wrestle.
Thank you for the memories and good luck next season boys.

Wrestling Dinner Speech - Chris Boyd

Ill never forget sitting in the doctors room in late January when the doctor came in and told me I was done. I couldn’t wrestle for the rest of the season and I was going to get surgery the next day. I was torn, I couldn’t believe it was all about to end. Everything I had worked for the past four years was gone but then I sat there and thought I have nothing to be ashamed of. 

I still made my parents proud and most importantly I knew Mr. Gnida was proud of me. He was the man that got me into wrestling and he was how I first began.

I was in seventh grade and I must say I wasn’t the most athletic kid but I was willing to try something new, and from that point it took off. I still remember when I first tried on my singlet, and my first match. I was with a core of kids that made me feel comfortable and many of them are up here with me now. We grew together. We went into high school and saw some of the most interesting things. We saw a wrestler who won something like a 180 wins and even saw a girl wrestle.

I started wrestling on JV and every year made new goals for myself because Coach had always taught us to set goals. One day I hoped to maybe go all section. I noticed wrestling was a sport of transition. With each year I would get increasingly better. And with each year I found myself with more to prove. I did put a lot of pressure on myself each winter but one thing that never changed was the support I received from everyone especially this season. I was doing unhealthy things and instead of ignoring what I was doing I was given help form the people closest to me. I would like to thank my parents and my coaches for pushing me and especially supporting me. Even Mr. Brenneman's obnoxious comments made me realize the stuff I was doing wasn’t smart.  But besides cutting wiehgt, my coaches also pushed me and worked me to be the best I could be, and I would like to thank them for that too. I would also like to thank my teammates who made the years fun for me, from when I was a shy freshman to this point where I seemed to have found myself singing in the showers. Well singing in general I'll never forget coming into practice and we sang the whole time. But anyway, everyone involved in these last 6 years made it worthwhile.

And after everything, I might not have been a sectional champion, I don’t have a hundred wins, I wasn’t all over the papers, but I still considered myself a great wrestler because of what this sport taught me. It taught me self discipline, sacrifice, and most importantly respect. With each day I began to respect the people around me, my teammates and even myself. Because wrestling is like life, you get what you put in. I'd like to wish the best of luck to those JV wrestlers and returning Varsity who I hope will give it to John Jay next year because I can't stand them. Thank you.

Speech from Wrestling Dinner- 2008 - Ron DiSanto

From the time I was an infant, I was always around wrestling.  My mom would bring me to tournaments and matches to see my dad and uncle and root their teams on.  On my first Halloween my mom dressed me up in a homemade Somers Wrestling uniform…knee pads included.  I was bound to become a Somers wrestler.  When I was around five years old, often times when I would see my uncle, he’d say “Ron, flex.” After a while I learned to flex on command and he would always get a kick out of it.
As I got older, I grew to admire the sport of wrestling and the athletes.  My first memory of watching wrestling was when I took my first trip up to Syracuse to watch the states.  This was when I was in first grade.  I was very excited to see Mike Sperandio make his way to the state finals.  I’ll never forget the morning after the finals. While waiting in the hotel lobby to leave, he came up to me and bought me a soda.  Besides trying to think of a reason why he bought me a soda at 8 o’clock in the morning…I couldn’t believe how cool it was that such a warrior was so kind and did something nice for me.
In years to come I began my own wrestling career.  This was in second grade.  My first match was at the Mamaroneck youth tournament.  I got beat on so bad that I started to cry and I couldn’t finish the match.  Walking off the mat in embarrassment, with tears running down my face, my dad was right there in my corner. Not as my coach, but as my father.  He told me to keep my head up and to not worry about it.
This was the same time that the three times section champion Brian Mullaney was wrestling.  I remember sitting at mat side at the finals of Somers Tournament watching him face off against the section one career leader in wins, Joe Mazzurco from Mahopac.  I do not remember the outcome of the match but this was when I began to realize that I could not wait until I had my chance to step under the spotlight in the Somers High school gym. 
As time went by I continued to wrestle in tournaments and I began to improve.  In fourth grade I placed in my first tournament and fifth grade was when I won my first tournament.  After doing multiple gut drills while listening to the Rocky soundtrack, wrestling was becoming a part of me.
Modified was when people like Boyd, Gross, and Zappi were introduced to wrestling, while guys like Adam, Trabucco, Callan, and TJ all had experience.  I will always carry with me, with all these guys, a bond through wrestling that will never be broken.  We had a lot of fun and we started a bunch of traditions and inside jokes that we still have like playing knee football and singing along to the Remember the Titans soundtrack.  In 8th grade we went undefeated.  Once again my dad was my coach, always supporting me in wrestling and in my life.
Beginning wrestling in high school, I started the season on JV.  This season was memorable because I was able to be teammates with Rob Mifsud who I always looked up to.  My first varsity match was against Lakeland/Panas when there was an open spot in the lineup.  I ended up winning 7-6.  In a match against Brewster, I came off the mat after my match and I had a red mark on my back.  My uncle asked me if it hurt and he told me I should get it checked out.  Then Mr. Brenneman poked it…and asked me if it hurt…I said no, and he said you’re fine. At that point I realized I’d never get sympathy from Mr. Brenneman.  But in the long run it made me stronger.
Sophomore year I was on and off varsity all season. All though I finished with 19 wins, I was upset that I did not wrestle in divisionals.  At the conclusion of the season, TJ and I decided we wanted to improve for the next season.
We made the decision to go to Minnesota for the J Robinson Intensive camp. We took part in intense practices, runs, and weight lifting sessions everyday for twenty-eight days. We were challenged physically and mentally.  This strengthened my bond with TJ even more.
The highlight of my junior year was winning the Super 16 team title. This was the first time Somers had accomplished this in the 25 year history of the tournament.  It was the greatest team achievement I have ever been a part of.  I was also able to be training partners with TJ.  Although we had a 25 pound weight difference, we helped each other in different ways and kept each other motivated.  It was a proud moment when he won the sectionals and went to the states because I felt I had a part in helping get there.
Senior year we got stuck in the same league as John Jay once again, so most of our hopes of winning the league went away.  Through injuries and people leaving the team, our chances of winning a sectional championship became less and less.  Although this season had its share of disappointment, I now realize how much heart this team had.  We still managed to pull off a solid 18-5 record and a second place finish in the league.  I’m proud of all of you guys.  If you guys can learn anything from me, let it be my determination and motivation.
As I look back today, I have only good memories that I can trace back as far as I can remember. Although I have ended my Somers Wrestling career, the motivation and confidence I gained as a wrestler will live with me forever. I always know I was part of something special, something unique, the wrestling program at Somers High School. A program based on integrity, hard work, honesty and discipline. 

Thank you to my mom and sister for spending their Saturdays sitting in gymnasiums. Also for always putting up with my bad moods when I was cutting weight. And thank you to the coaches I’ve had through the years. Mr. Realbuto, both Mr. Boniello’s, Mr. Hauser, Coach Jean, Coach Rackoff, Mr. Brenneman, my godfather Uncle Dennis, and my father. Thank you.

2008- Wrestling Dinner Speech- Kyle Contrata

Hey Kyle, do you want to wrestle?

No. Why are you asking?

Because coach needs a 96pounder and I told him you weigh about 96 pounds and he wants you to come out for the team. So do you want to wrestle?


That is how my four year wrestling career started, about, wellÖfour years ago!! Around this time five years ago I was very excited about going to the high school. I never even thought that Iíd become a wrestler, let alone a decent one. And yet I was somehow coerced into joining the team my freshman year, and well everyday since I have not regretted joining.

And now I stand before you a man, in a sense, ready to go off to college with the one question on my mind, what I have learned these many years. I promised myself I wouldnít cryÖ so I wonít. But seriously if I can remember I have had some of the best times of my life in that room. But seriously, I love that room and will miss it. Which no one can understand why, it smells like pure ass-pirations and dreams!

I never would have expected to be where I am today in terms of life and wrestling without what has become almost essential to my existence. Remember the pride that consumed me when I went to the finals of the Pawling tournament my freshman year and sophomore year (we wonít dwell on the 2nd year). Or when I sat and watched as TJ Nelson pulled a Quote Upset end quote. But nothing can match this year, when Ronnie, Anthony and Brian all won the division. And saw Brian went on to not only win the Section but place 4th in the states. All I can say to people was,Ö I practiced with himÖ The creation of the lightweights this year, which I am sad to be the first to leave, as I have still not left that terminologyÖ 119.4 ponds, checked it today!!!! But I have to throw out a bunch of memorable moments now for everyone, being the 4 time recipient of the Human Pretzel award, the record deal for Spock and Chewbacca I am still waiting for. Neils sympathy gifts after the Super Sixteen tournaments. Putting something like 15 guys into the Pawling finals. Running outside the circle and most of all the pride of when coach called me over shook my hand and said congratulations Kyle, youíre captain.

That was a great moment, for me to stand within the great wh have lead this team both in spirit and as actual captains, and stand beside Boyd, and Ronnie and lead this team through a veryÖ interesting but great season. And to be graduating with such a talented group of seniors with Mike, Ron, Chris, Brian, Gross, it has been an amazing four years Iíve spent with you. Probably my greatest regret is not doing modified, not a day has gone by since the end of freshman year when coach asked me if I was coming back that I didnít wholeheartedly regret not doing modified.

And finally for the thank yous. I would like to thank Richie
(thatís the only thing that got him here tonight), but more importantly the coaches. Coach, thank you for having Stephen get me to come out for the team because God knows what I would have become. Brenneman, thank you for whooping us into shape and as much as we hated the Brenneman practices, we secretly loved them (or at least I did). Rackoff what can I say, you were always good for some comic relief in really bad situations. Especially this year. Iíd like to thank Mark Jean, my brother and Neils for being my past partner and good friend. Brian, my current (but kinda past) partner who I will look forward to seeing headlines. G-Jon, all the lightweights, all the seniors, the whole team past and present (who if I named the speech will be twice as long as it already is), the parents. My Mother, for being a constant nag. But most of all my father, for being always there for me.

About Chris Walker by Will Rand

Hey everybody. On hearing of Chris' far too early passing, I wanted to share a story about him that's probably been told a 100 times, and might be told 100 times more in the next few days, probably with a lot more clarity. But I wanted to get it "on paper," Hopefully it'll bring some fond memories of Chris back and provide a little peace to those who loved him.Feel free to pass it around. I would try to send it to more people, but he and I have different facebook friends, unfortunately.

The story takes place sometime in the beginning of 2001. The Somers High School wrestling team, an elite fraternity of which Chris and I and many others were a part of, was having a head-to-head (or dual) meet against perennial class-B power, Ossining. As I remember it (and please, if anyone remembers it any better, don't hesitate to correct me) both teams were undefeated, and the match would eventually decide the class-B champions. In my three years at Somers, I don't think we'd ever beaten Ossining before, and that's because they were a very good team. There was a lot of bad blood between the schools. Part of this was because our team had some tough matches against each other, part of it was because Somers didn't jump around "House of Pain"-style before our matches, and partially because our former teammate, Anthony Carrozza, was given a vicious WWF-style powerslam by one of their wrestlers in a previous match. If YouTube was invented in 2001, and that video got on there, it would have like a billion views by now. The slam was dirty.

Anyway, a little background: wrestling as a team sport is divided into 12 weight classes, ranging from 96 lbs. to 215 lbs. The matches occur, one-on-one in order of increasing weight, meaning that the 96 pounders face off, then the 103 pounders face off, on and on, until the 215 pounders finish.

Needless to say, both teams wanted to win. Now, for reasons outside my memory, Chris (who was not a regular starter) was thrust into the 189 lb. spot, the second to last weight class to wrestle before the meet came to its conclusion. Add on to it that our regular 215 pounder was sick as a dog that day, and was facing a very tough match, a loss in there was a virtual certainty, meaning that if Somers were to win the meet, it might all come down to Chris.

Now, Chris was not a great wrestler that year. In fact, I don't recall him being a particularly good wrestler in any year. Chris wasn't a "fish" or someone who flopped right over onto his back, exactly, but no one would mistake him for Loudin Swain.
Come match day, Chris was told he was starting, and the atmosphere in the old gym was electric. The bleachers were full, and people were standing all over the place just to get a view of the action. The teams were into their respective warm-ups: Somers calmly walking to the totally diesel "Lunar Cry" from "Vision Quest," Ossining probably with something annoying and overplayed like GNR's "Welcome to the Jungle."

And after all that hype, at the start of the match, we kind of sucked. In the lower weight classes, we had a lot of 8th graders and freshman wrestling varsity, so outside of someone on our side winning with a slick inside cradle, the team was losing going into the middle rounds.

Then things changed, as all of our best wrestlers were getting to their matches and the tide was starting to turn. First came one pin. Then another, and then another! All these pins occurred within 60 seconds of each other. Somers was ahead! The packed house was rockin' and rolling, and naturally, as we might have expected, it all came down to Chris.

Our team was leading by a score of 30-19 with only two more matches to go, one of which would probably be a forfeit, effectively making the score 30-25. The scoring in wrestling occurs as follows:

Win by decision – 3 points
Win by 15 points (Tech-Fall) – 6 points
Win by pin – 6 points
Win by forfeit – 6 points

So basically all Chris had to do is not get pinned, and the team would win.

"Chris, don't get pinned! Don't get pinned! Don't get Tech-falled!" over and over again we all said. Even our coach Dennis DiSanto was saying "Don't get pinned, Chris." This was a tall order. The wrestler opposing Chris was among the sections best. He knew he was facing a less than capable wrestler, and he was extra motivated to win by pinfall because his team needed it for victory. His singular goal was probably to beat the crap out of Chris. We knew it. Chris knew it. The coaches knew it. The place knew it, and everyone was going nuts.

So, Chris went out there and actually accounted for himself pretty well. The best way to describe his performance was "crafty" – he provided just enough offense to be competitive, and just enough defense not to be punished for "stalling." He didn't win, but he lost by a close enough margin that the victory of the total meet was never in doubt – and I can't express to you all how awesome that was. He did exactly what he needed to do. After the match ended and Chris came over, we surrounded him jumping up and down like the guy single-handedly won the Superbowl! For all we cared, he did. Our 215 pounder forfeited, Somers won the meet by two points, 30-28, won the Class B championship, and beat a big rival for the first time in years.

Chris' match wasn't just the match of the year; it was the match of the decade, and probably the match of the (young) century. Hell, it still might be. Random people came up to Chris in school shortly after saying that it was the most exciting thing they'd ever seen.

When the end of the season honors came at the yearly banquet, Chris had his fair share. He won an award for match of the year, being the best substitute wrestler, and if I remember correctly, for being an all-around hero.

Now, I'm not the kind of person that feels that sports can be all that instructive on matters like character, or society or America in general. But Chris was put in a negative situation that was beyond his control. He was facing off against a good opponent, in the wrong weight class, filing in for someone else; and by the way, he had no other option but to succeed. And he knew everyone was counting on him, which means there must have been a lot of pressure. In spite of all the, Chris took the best of a bad situation, and made it work.

That's character. That's leadership. That's determination. That's not letting your teammates down. And those are precisely the kind of attributes that made him such a great guy, and such a great person.

One of the hardest things about growing up is that somewhere along the way, people start dying. After, these people are kept alive in our hearts in flashes behind the mind's eye – in images, memories and feelings. I didn't know Chris all that well. But the flashes I'll always remember will be the ones from that winter day, when the person of whom nothing was expected, faced adversity and came through on the biggest stage.

Those who witnessed it first hand are better people because of it. I'm happy to have known him.

Many the angels in heaven watch over Chris, and all he loved.

Wrestling Dinner Speech by Adam Finkelstein-2009

 I started wrestling when I was in 5th grade under coaches Realbuto and Boniello.  I don’t quite remember why I started wrestling- I think it was to find an alternative to basketball, once I realized I would not be destined for the NBA.   

            As each year went by, I remember liking the sport more and more.  In seventh grade I was on the undefeated modified team and remember having the time of my life.  Everything was going smoothly and I got a good taste for the sport at a young age.  My eighth grade year, I wrestled half the year on varsity at 119 lbs., and remember being so nervous before every dual meet match that I felt like I was going to throw up.

            Tenth grade came along, and I had a pretty good year.   Following my tenth grade year, I became extremely motivated to wrestle in the off-season, and really dedicate myself to the sport.

            Before my junior year, I had very high hopes for the season.  I worked very hard in the spring, summer and fall, and hoped that it would pay off during my junior year. 

Unfortunately, I broke my leg in the second tournament of the year.  When I got news from the hospital that it was a spiral fracture with torn ligaments in my ankle, I turned to my dad and said “it’s over.”  He then looked at me and said “no it’s not.”  So, my dad requested I get a waterproofed cast to swim and still stay in shape, and I lifted weights daily.  I returned that year pretty strong, despite how many people, including my physical therapist and doctor said I would not return.  This was the most difficult thing I have ever gone through, and I am a much stronger person today because of it.

This last year was a year I’ll always remember.  It was a fun and successful year, and now I have a special bond with my coaches and the members of my senior year team.  We were a unique group; I don’t think you’ll find another group of athletes whose first instinct when they hear a fire alarm is the cramp into a dark storage closet.  Or a group of athletes who’s idea of pre-practice fun is to take their shirts off, turn off the lights and run around in circles playing a tag-like game I will never fully understand the rules of.   I’m proud of this group.  We are and will be a family forever.

            Now my High School career is over, and my days of being on the Somers wrestling team are done.  Although I never thought the day would come, I couldn’t be more thankful for what the sport has done for me.  I’m extremely thankful for the teammates I’ve made a bond with for the rest of my life. 

Wrestling has made me who I am today.  It’s taught me to never back down to the many forms of adversity I will face throughout my entire life.  It’s taught me to push myself beyond limits I thought I had.  Wrestling has taught me to live my life with no regrets, because before you know it the things you love to do will be gone.  

            I can’t express how thankful I am for everyone who has been there for me.  For my parents and my sister who want me to succeed just as much as I do.  To my dad who has pushed me through times I didn’t think I would be able to push through.  Thank you Melissa and Krista for doing the stats.  To coach DiSanto for five great years, Coach Whitted, Coach Tobias, Coach Boniello and really Coach Scorrano who believed in me and pushed me everyday.   Also to the Realbutos who allowed us to practice on their home mats.  I can’t express how thankful I am to them.

            I wish all future Somers wrestlers the best.  You will be as successful as you want to be.  You are a very talented group.  The sky’s the limit for this group.  I hope they get out what I have gotten from this sport, and become much better people for the rest of their lives.


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