The tradition of children’s wrestling continues in Lynbrook this year as the Lynbrook Youth Athletic Association has announced the beginning of its 39th season.
The first practice is set for Dec. 8 and the program will run through March 19. The wrestling program was started in December 1977 by Bob Becker, thanks to the donations from local business owners who helped purchase the first set of wrestling mats. Since then, the program has grown to one of Nassau County’s premier children’s wrestling programs, with an average of about 120 children per season . The program is run by Becker’s nephew, Hilary Becker, and more than a dozen additional coaches.
Many of the coaches are former Lynbrook High School wrestlers that wanted to give back to the community by volunteering their time to the program. When asked the question of why he would sacrifice every Saturday morning for the last 39 years to help coach a gym full of 7-12 year olds, Hilary described the motivation to be the feeling of self gratification from helping others. Believing that a career in wrestling will make the children a better person is also a strong motivation. “Wrestling helped me a great deal growing up,” he said. “It improved my self confidence, and self-esteem.”
Viewed by many as one of the toughest and most physically demanding sports, the Titans Wrestling Program has prepared many of its wrestlers for greater accomplishments in the sport,in their lives. Hilary said that the wrestling program has helped feed the varsity wrestling program at Lynbrook High School, and it also aided the school’s football and lacrosse programs, which have had a long history of success. “Every time I go to a varsity football or lacrosse game, I count the names of my former wrestlers,” Becker said. “It’s usually 50 percent or better.”
As the program has grown, so has the commitment from the coaches. Becker said the last five years have been “outstanding,” and that there is a crop of wrestlers moving up the ranks that look to be the best in Lynbrook’s history. “For the past few years we’ve been doing more tournament wrestling than ever before,” he said.
Hilary said coaching means giving up weekends, but added that the coaches do not say no to a child who wants tow restle, and most parents don’t know the techniques of the sport, so one of the coaches must be there to guide the students, many of whom return.
“We love to get the Titan wrestling alumni back in the gym,” Hilary said. “When they speak about their wrestling experience and how it helped prepare them for life, not only do the kids listen, but the coaches do, too.”
Registration and practice is scheduled for Dec. 8 at the Lynbrook Kindergarten Center from 9:30 to 11:30 am. Please call Hilary Becker at (516) 887-0677 for more information.
Courtesy Lynbrook Titans Wrestling Program; compiled by Mike Smollins