ITEM PHOTO: OWEN O’ROURKE
From left, assistant coach Samantha Nelson, Jared Nicholson, coach Frank Vieira, standing, and athletes Sidney Cocchia Jose Lagares, Dayris Cleto-Galo and Rohni Silveria during warm ups.
By MICHELE DURGIN
LYNN — It didn’t take long for freshman School Committee member Jared Nicholson to enhance the lives of student athletes in the city.
Nicholson, who was a champion wrestler at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School and lettered in varsity wrestling at Princeton University, has introduced the first wrestling program to the city’s public schools since the 70’s.
”This is wonderful,” he said. “I am truly grateful to so many people who have stepped up and helped me bring this program to the students of Lynn.”
The program has started with 20 boys and girls from the Thurgood Marshall Middle School. Most of the team members are eighth graders. The hope is that next season the program moves up to the high school level. The plan is for Classical, English, and Tech to combine as one team, with Lynn Tech as the host school.
Joe Skeadas, Tech’s athletic director, said he is excited about wrestling becoming part of the high school team sports offerings. He is anxious for the season to begin and relieved,too.
“I have been trying to get this going for six years,” he said. “My brother, Jackie, was a member of the English Wrestling Team in the early 70’s and then it just disappeared. It’s another option for kids, and I believe the more options we give them, the better off we all are.”
The middle school team is preparing for its first exhibition match next Thursday against the Josiah Quincy Upper School in Boston.
“Some of these kids are naturals,” Nicholson said. “It’s great that they are getting involved in this sport at such a young age. The big goal is to also offer a high school program in Lynn. Wrestling is a unique sport because it offers athletes a chance to be part of a team, yet challenge themselves individually while competing on a mat against another wrestler.”
Coach Frank Vieira, an eighth grade history teacher, is looking forward to the upcoming season of wrestling in Lynn.
“This is a dream come true,” he said. “The kids love it and often ask if practice can go longer. I am hoping for a squad twice this size next year.”
Assistant coach Samantha Nelson said she too is excited about the upcoming season.
“The kids are really enjoying the program,” she said. “There is a great bonding experience happening across the grade levels and that carries over into the classrooms and the hallways of the school.”
Nicholson raised $15,150 for the program from sponsors Matthew Picarsic, principal of RCG LLC, Biondolillo Associates, the Gilberg family, Edison Realty LLC, Seabay Realty LLC, and Eastern Bank.
“There is no better feeling than going the full six minutes and then the referee raises your arm in victory, and you know that you’ve just defeated someone who is working just as hard as you,” Vieira said. “I am so happy that wrestling has come to Lynn.”