At an inter-district match between Calhoun and Mepham high schools on Jan. 8, the varsity wrestling teams were recognized for their participation in an island-wide campaign to combat the local opioid crisis.
This season, 38 wrestlers from Mepham and 45 wrestlers from Calhoun signed a pledge to “Take Down Drugs.” The campaign, launched by the Friends of Long Island Wrestling, aims to keep youngsters on a healthy, drug-free path by promoting the benefits of the sport and offering ways to support local wrestling programs and drug counseling services.
During halftime, Councilman Dennis Dunne recognized the teams with participation certificates to be displayed in the respective schools. “It’s really an incredible program,” Dunne said. “Every little thing you [can] do against drugs adds to their education. Somebody’s got to set the example . . . and that’s what these kids are doing.”
Mepham wrestling coach Sean Arresto said that by signing the pledge, the student athletes becAme role models to others. “We’re always stressing to our boys that we want them to be not just leaders on the mat but leaders in the building,” he said, “so to do something like this and step up to this problem, which is a huge problem on Long Island, hopefully our kids can be role models for the other kids.”
Calhoun wrestling coach Pete Marques stresses to his athletes that making positive choices on and off the mat sets an example for the younger, aspiring athletes in the community, like the Bellmore-Merrick Bulldogs’ youth wrestlers.
Youth wrestling coach Steve Romano, who attended the match with his athletes, said the more the teams interact, the stronger the local wrestling programs become. “Wrestling is a team sport but also like a family,” he said, “and the younger they get involved in the wrestling, the better it’s going to benefit the boys when they get to junior high and high school.”
For more information about the “Take Down Drugs” pledge, visit, www.wrestlingtakesdowndrugs.org.