Coach Spotlight: University of Iowa’s Tom Brands

As reported on the University of Iowa website, the Hawkeyes’ head wrestling coach Tom Brands’s bio (learn about this man’s background below)!

“Five-time Big Ten and three-time NWCA Coach of the Year Tom Brands completed his 15th season as head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa in 2021. A 1996 Olympic gold medalist and member of wrestling’s Hall of Fame, Brands is only the eighth wrestling coach at the University of Iowa. The former Hawkeye wrestler was a four-time All-American and three-time national champion (1989-92) at Iowa. He has a 236-23-1 (.909) overall and 113-10 (.917) Big Ten coaching record at Iowa. He has a 253-43-1 (.852) career mark.

In 15 seasons as Iowa’s head coach, Brands has led the Hawkeyes to four NCAA and six Big Ten team titles, crowning 13 NCAA champions, 24 Big Ten champions and 89 All-Americans. Iowa has had 142 Academic All-Big Ten recipients, including a school-record 17 in 2019-20. The Hawkeyes have qualified 138 wrestlers for the NCAA Championships in the last 15 years, sending the entire 10-man lineup in 2010, 2014, 2015, 2020 and 2021. Iowa has won or shared the Big Ten regular season title 12 times in Brands’ 15 seasons.

Iowa set the national collegiate dual meet attendance record of 42,287 when Iowa defeated top-ranked Oklahoma State, 18-16, on Nov. 14, 2015 at the Grapple on the Gridiron at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa has led the nation in attendance every year since Brands was named head coach. The Hawkeyes set an NCAA all-time attendance average of 12,568 in 2019-20.

Brands has been named NWCA National Coach of the Year three times. He was first honored in 2008 after leading the Hawkeyes to their first NCAA team title since 2000. He was recognized in 2020 when the top-ranked Hawkeyes won Big Ten regular season and tournament championships and entered the NCAA Championships as the favorite to win the team title. The tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He most recently won the award in 2021 when Iowa won Big Ten and NCAA team titles.

Brands was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2020 and 2021. He is the only coach in program history to earn the award five times.

Brands served as head coach at Virginia Tech University for two seasons (2005-06), recording a 17-20 dual mark. In his first season with the Hokies, Brands led the team to the 2005 regular season Atlantic Coast Conference title, set a school record for dual meet wins (16) and had a school-record five wrestlers qualify for the NCAA Championships. During his tenure, Virginia Tech crowned five ACC champions and had two All-Americans. Senior heavyweight Mike Faust was named 2006 ACC Wrestler of the Year.

Prior to taking the helm at Virginia Tech, Brands was an assistant coach at Iowa for 12 seasons (1993-2004). He helped the Hawkeyes to a 177-27 dual record, seven NCAA and eight Big Ten team titles, while crowning 23 NCAA champions, 73 All-Americans and 36 Big Ten champions. He was named the National Wrestling Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year in 2000.

In 2004, he was one of three coaches for the U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestling team, participating in Athens, and in 2016 he was named a volunteer coach of the United States Olympic team in Rio. Brands also served as assistant coach for the U.S. Freestyle World Teams in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2013, 2014, and 2015. He was named Freestyle Coach of the Year by USA Wrestling in 2002 and 2003. He has coached a number of other U.S. teams in international competition.

As a competitor, Brands won the 1996 Olympic freestyle gold medal at 136.5 pounds in Atlanta, Georgia. He also won a gold medal at the 1993 World Championships in Toronto, two World Cup gold medals (1994, 1995) and was the 1995 Pan American Games champion. He won four U.S. National titles (1993-96) and made four straight U.S. World or Olympic teams (1993-96). Along with his twin brother, Terry, Tom was named 1993 USA Wrestling Athlete of the Year, the 1993 John Smith Outstanding Freestyle Wrestler, and 1993 Amateur Wrestling News Man of the Year. He was inducted into wrestling’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

Brands was a four-time All-American at Iowa (1989-92). During his Hawkeye career, he won three NCAA titles and was named Outstanding Wrestler of the 1992 NCAA Championships. Also a three-time Big Ten champion, Brands won 95 percent of his matches at Iowa. His career mark of 158-7-2 includes an undefeated season in 1991 (45-0).

The Sheldon, Iowa, native was born April 9, 1968. He earned his B.S. degree in physical education from Iowa in 1992. He and his wife, Jeni, have three adult children, Madigan, Kinsee and Tommy.”

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New Jersey Wrestling Social Media Talk, Where Takedowns Occur Regularly – June 17, 2021 Edition

Compiled By DANIEL SONNINSHINE 

Here is something interesting that people in the wrestling circles of New Jersey are talking about.

On the New Jersey Wrestling Forum Facebook page, William Holmes issued the following post on June 9, 2021 (note that the below quotes are not corrected for grammar/spelling and are quoted on ESN exactly how matters were posted on Facebook):

William Holmes said: “Since the pandemic has slowly started to lift I’ve been hearing/reading some complaints about wrestling: Re: Half filled brackets, duals with a smaller number of teams, camps and clinics not filling up…

This is partly due to the pandemic.

But this is also a glimpse into what wrestling would be like without the Rec programs.

I know most people who join wrestling forums take the sport more seriously and likely have someone in their family who has experienced success in wrestling.

But not everyone can be a state champ. Most posts on wrestling forums tend to be about how can I get better, why kids should do international styles,  or what it takes to become a champ.

But very few posts on how to grow the sport and get new kids into the sport.

If you want to see more filled out brackets next year, or bigger dual tournaments, or increased participation in international style events, or increased participation in clubs…

Encourage growth at the town level. Get involved with your local program. Grab a new kid or family and encourage them to try it out.

Sell the sport without mentioning the words championship, medals, or titles.

If you’re really about growing the sport you’ll go all in into helping your local program next season when we hopefully will be able to wrestle at the local schools and community centers.

Growth starts at the ground level. Your state championship won’t hold the value it used to have if Rec programs die off.

The number of schools merging or dropping wrestling is concerning, to put it mildly. But this is a trend that can be stopped.

Don’t lose the forest from the trees.”

Below are some responses to Holmes’s post: 

Michael Charles said: “While I agree with you I also here a legitimate argument from parents and kids in the travel scene.

For example, Rec teams are usually pretty strict about how many practices you need to make each week in order to be on the dual team, but the truth of the matter is 3xs a week is asking a lot of a year round wrestler who has devoted him or herself to the sport….just so he or she can benefit others who chose not to wrestle in the off season. There needs to be a give and take not just a take. The fact remains that 3 days a week in a room with mostly seasonal wrestlers is not the same as going live with 4 partners who wrestle year round.”

William Holmes responded to Michael, by saying: “Michael Charles  I coach a Rec program in south jersey, and had a few wrestlers who did club. There were a few who were really elite, I just asked them for 1-2 days a week, and they obliged.

My kids do club too, but we dedicated our time and focus to the local program during the winter. Because we realize that our local program growing is way more important than individual success. To us at least.”

Michael respond to William by saying: “William Holmes 1 day a week is more than reasonable. But from a child’s perspective who breaks their rear year round only to show up to a room where kids don’t take it seriously can be frustrating for the wrestlers not to mention the chance of injury is much higher. The local program growing is important, but I don’t see club attendance falling if anything I see it growing…my sons clubs have upwards of 30-40 kids a night in the off season.”

William followed up with: “Michael Charles that’s fine. But if you aren’t involved with your local program it’s a hard sell to say you’re also all about growing the sport.

Wrestling going club only will lead to the death of most high school program in NJ outside the traditional powerhouses.”

 Michael said to William: “William Holmes What I’m saying is the complaints I hear from club kids need to be addressed as well like I said it needs to be a give and take. A great indicator that the sport is growing is merchandising and that has exploded with near fall, Rudis, scraplife.”

William responded to Michael with: “Eh. 2021 has been a struggle from what I’ve seen with tournaments, clinics, duals, and even club numbers.

And schools are dropping or merging wrestling, schools I never thought possible. I can’t disagree with you more on the growth factor.”

William followed that up with: “Michael Charles  you can still do club and stay involved locally. Most I know d.o”

Michael responded to William with: “William Holmes These companies spend big money on analytics they see that there is a market otherwise they wouldn’t do it.”

William said to Michael: “Michaell Charles companies making money while programs and schools are dropping. This is the problem. You’re missing the forest from the trees.”

WIlliam followed that up with: “But anyway, winter 2021/22, let’s get kids back and new kids in.”

Michael responded to William with: “No I’m not LOL. If the market wasn’t there which means NUMBERS it wouldn’t be done.

My point in responding to your post is that this is a two way street. And their is a opposite side to this post which wasn’t being addressed.

It’s a two way street.”

William said to Michael: “If you cant sacrifice a day or two a week to be involved with your local program, which feeds kids into your high school program,

I honestly question you if you say you’re about growing the sport.

It really is quite easy for a club kid to continue to get better and stay involved locally. If your local program doesn’t find a way for your kid to do club and the local program at the same time, that’s on them.

Just don’t forget the importance of growing the sport from the ground up.

And yes, you are missing the forest from the trees. Just look at any high school dual results in your local newspaper and the number of forfeits to get a good idea of where our sport is at. Pre-pandemic too.”

Michael responded to William with: “William Holmes That’s not what was said. What I said was teams are to rigid requiring 3 days a week for practices…one of my previous responses stated that one day a week is more than reasonable.

Our rec team had 83 kids I think the year before the pandemic. This year they didn’t have a season because the schools wouldn’t let them use the gym.

And no there is not always a way for the child to improve in a rec room sadly the conditions just aren’t there sometimes.”

William responded to Michael saying: “The point of this post is to point out the importance of rec wrestling.

You missed the forest.

But keep watering your tree.”

Michael said to William: “William Holmes  The point of my post was to represent the complaint I here from a lot of parents which wasn’t included in your post and it’s very valid.”

William responded to Michael with: “Michael Charles it is. Guess I’m one of the few Rec programs that have dealt with it, and that hasn’t been a problem in south jersey at most clubs and participants from my experience.

I wish you luck next season!” 

Michael said to William: “William Holmes You as well man.” 

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NFL Kid G.O.A.T./Florida Wrestling State Champ Mario Del Vecchio Says Drew Brees Greatest QB of All Time

Mario Del Vecchio is sharing his weekly YouTube Channel show, “NFL Kid G.O.A.T.” , on Empire State News. In this week’s episode, he declares that Drew Brees is the NFL’s all-time best quarterback. Whether you agree or disagree, the kid backs up his assertion with stat after stat.

Here is a link to the Brees episode.

In 2021, Mario Del Vecchio became a Florida 6th Grade State Champ Wrestler, in winning the Competitive Edge Florida Youth State Championships. Del Vecchio (a 12-year-old) also took second place at two 8th grade/14U Division states in 2021: the Florida 2021 AAU Spring States and the 2021 Florida Folkstyle State Championships. See these results on TrackWrestling and FloArena…In 2020, Del Vecchio took 2nd place at the Deep South Nationals in Alabama, and has won or placed in dozens of other tournaments over several different states; in total, he has netted over 100 victories during the past three seasons…Del Vecchio, a perennial straight A student, has also been the captain of his football team, breaking the team’s QB sack record, in scoring 10 ½ sacks a season ago. Although small for a lineman, he has won Lineman of the Year in the last three consecutive seasons; he’s now moving to LB and RB…Additionally, Del Vecchio is a professional actor who has played lead and supporting roles in over 10 movies that star several Academy Award and Emmy winners and nominees. He played the lead in the cult Christmas/sports flicks, A Wrestling Christmas Miracle and A Karate Christmas Miracle… Del Vecchio has created and hosts his own weekly show on his YouTube Channel, the NFL Kid G.O.A.T., which is featured weekly on Empire State News.

Florida Wrestling Social Media Talk, Where Takedowns Occur Regularly – June 17, 2021 Edition

Compiled by DANIEL SONNINSHINE

One hot topic of conversation on social media in Florida is the status of girls wrestling as a high school sport.

Joseph Swirble posted on The Florida Wrestling Room Powered by Florida Pride Wrestling on June 9, 2021 in response to an article titled FHSAA: Beach volleyball gets greenlight, girls wrestling tabled (note that the below quotes are not corrected for grammar/spelling and are quoted on ESN exactly how matters were posted on Facebook)

“Anyone have some insight into FHSAA reversing their decision to sanction girls wrestling?”

Here are some responses to the post:

Brad Oversmith said: “Someone must have had deep pockets”

Mark DeAugustino said: “Wow…….. Really?……….. Way to step up to the scale/mat for our girls FHSAA……. Someone needs to be a leader. FHSAA you are proving that you don’t know how to be a leader…. Sad news…”

Zane Turnipsed said: “guess Title IX only counts when it comes to screwing over wrestling in college not helping it in high school.”

And another ongoing conversation focuses on allowing middle school students to participate on high school teams, which is sometimes utilized in wrestling to help fill out the lighter weight classes.

On The Florida Wrestling Room Powered by Florida Pride Wrestling, on June 8 2021, Evan Layne posted in response to the FHSAA proposal to block middle school athletes from participating in high school sports:  

“Good for the sport or No ?

Love to hear both sides of the argument.”

 Here are responses:

Omah Sang responded by saying, “I think it’s bad for the sport. Most middle school athletes that compete in wrestling are lighter weights that’s aren’t dominated by upperclassmen. In other sports the kids have to be pretty special to be put on the field/court. Kid phenoms are a special part of athletics.”

Joe Blasuci responded to Omah by saying, “This whole argument is stupid. Remember this these are pre high school kids beating 16-19 year Old high school kids. Whats unfair about that?? We had 12 and 13 year Olds in the state finals. Anyone that makes an excuse for losing to little kids in a high school sport is sour grapes you all sound likes crybabies. More excuse parents. Every reason any of your kids lose is because of someone else’s fault..always remember your kids feed off you whether strong or weak…this is weak.”

Omah replied to Blasuci saying, “Joe Blasuci keep drinking. You must be completely sh!!! faced at this point. I am FOR middle school kids competing. So are you arguing with yourself? You should read the article and the responses when you are sober to understand what this conversation was about.”

Brad Oversmith said in response to the original post: “Only lazy and over privileged a-holes would request for a better, younger, more deserving , hard working middle schooler to not compete so some Rich worthless puke CAN have their varsity spot. This shouldn’t come as a surprise this is how our country is ran. LAZY don’t wanna work and let’s use money and nonsense to hold anyone back our kids so the go along get along GAME people can even exist. All sports, corporate and government is ran this way. If I seen these middle schoolers getting trashed and was unsafe I see why but that doesn’t and won’t happen they usually are better if not they definitely work harder, and become more successful than ones that waited until 9th grade. Tired of seeing worthless people get in way and make it harder for kids cause the Older kids can’t beat a hard working middle schooler and their coaching staff and wrestlers afraid to put in work. That’s only reason you don’t want a deserving kid to participate. Them kids get no special treatment have to work extra harder and in most cases the ones out there are better. We need to ban the athletic association if they even waste time looking at this. In.1930 maybe when we didn’t know any better I get it today your just a a-hole if you are saying it’s unfair.”

And finally, a post that received no response:

On June 7 2021, on Florida Wrestling News And Events, Shannyn J. Gillespie posted, “Why do athletic/sport leagues around the globe separate the genders in competition?

That question is the theme of this article and the short answer appears to be a competitive advantage.  Below, will discuss several issues that wrestling enthusiasts are also faced with when males compete with females after puberty…” 

Although this was a great post, no one commented.

Wrestler Spotlight: Stanford University’s Shane Griffith

As found on the Stanford University website, 2021 NCAA Champion Shane Griffith’s career summary (learn about this wrestler’s background below)!

Career Accolades

  • Pac-12 team champion (2019) – first in program history
  • Hodge Trophy finalist (2020) – just second in program history
  • Amateur Wrestling News National Rookie of the Year (2020)
  • Two-time NCAA Qualifier (2020, 2021)
  • Pac-12 Wrestler of the Year (2020)
  • Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year (2020)
  • Co-Most Outstanding Wrestler at Pac-12 Championships (2020)
  • Pac-12 champion at 165 pounds (2020)
  • NWCA First Team All-American (2020)
    • Along with teammate Real Woods, just the second/third freshman All-American in school history
  • Finalist for FloWrestling Freshman of the Year (2020)
  • The Open Mat DI All-Freshman First Team (2020)
  • Two-time Pac-12 Wrestler of the Week (Feb. 5, 2020, Feb. 19, 2020)
  • NWCA Scholar All-American (2020)
  • Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll (2020)

As a Redshirt Sophomore (2020-21)

  • NCAA Qualifier
  • 7-1 overall and 3-0 in duals wrestling at 165 and 174 pounds
    • Registered 34 consecutive wins dating back to 2019
      • Win streak is the second-longest in program history
    • Posted five major decisions
  • Runner-up at the Pac-12 Championships (Feb. 28) in Corvallis, Ore.

As a Redshirt Freshman (2019-20)

  • Hodge Trophy finalist – just second in program history
  • Amateur Wrestling News National Rookie of the Year
  • Pac-12 Wrestler of the Year
  • Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year
  • Co-Most Outstanding Wrestler at Pac-12 Championships
  • NWCA First Team All-American
    • Along with teammate Real Woods, just the second/third freshman All-American in school history
  • Finalist for FloWrestling Freshman of the Year
  • The Open Mat DI All-Freshman First Team
  • Two-time Pac-12 Wrestler of the Week (Feb. 5, Feb. 19)
  • NWCA Scholar All-American
  • Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll
  • 28-0 overall and 13-0 in duals at 165 pounds
    • Best start to a career in program history
    • Second-longest winning-streak in school history (28)
    • Seventh-most wins by a freshman in school history
    • One of just eight undefeated NCAA DI wrestlers in 2019-20
    • Registered 18 wins by bonus points
    • Led the team with nine pins
  • NCAA Qualifier
    • Awarded the No. 3 seed for the NCAA Championships
  • Pac-12 champion at 165 pounds
    • Just the seventh freshman to win a conference title in program history
  • Listed as No. 6 in the country on the NCAA’s Most Dominant Wrestler list (all weights)
  • Won the Battle at The Citadel (Nov. 3), Roadrunner Open (Nov. 24) and Southern Scuffle (Jan. 1-2)
  • Recorded six wins over ranked opponents

As a Freshman (2018-19) • Pac-12 Champions

  • Redshirted his first season on The Farm
  • 25-2 wrestling unattached at 165 pounds
  • Won the Princeton Open (Nov. 4), Roadrunner Open (Nov. 18) and National Collegiate Open (March 2)
  • Placed third at the Southern Scuffle (Jan. 1-2)
  • Finished fifth at the Reno Tournament of Champions (Dec. 20)

Freestyle

  • Won gold at 79 kg at the 2019 Junior Pan American Championships in Guatemala City
  • Runner-up at 74 kg at the 2019 Junior World Team Trials in Raleigh, N.C.
  • Placed second at 79 kg at the 2019 UWW Junior Nationals in Las Vegas

Prior to Stanford

  • A 2018 graduate of Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, N.J.
  • Four-year letter winner in wrestling, captaining his team for two seasons
  • Team was four-time state champions, ranking in the top 10 in the nation
  • Three-time state champion and runner-up the other year
  • Only underclassman to win Most Outstanding Wrestler at the state tournament
  • Super 32 champion
  • Fargo runner-up
  • DOC Buchanan champion

Personal

  • Son of Jeffrey and Alison Griffith
  • Has an older sister, Ashley
  • Full name is Shane Patrick Griffith”

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A Winning Team at Florida’s Creekside High School, Headed by Coach Rick Marabell

By ROCCO ARTESIAN

In a presciently and thoughtfully drafted letter, Creekside High School head coach Rick Marabell wrote:

“I have been involved with the sport of wrestling for over 40 years now. My favorite quote is from the great wrestler and legendary coach Dan Gable, ‘Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.’ I can say in my life that quote has rang true over and over again. I believe that wrestling offers certain life lessons that may take years to develop or experience.

My high school and college wrestling coaches had a huge impact on my life. They not only taught the skills and techniques required to be successful on the mat, but they also understood that, as coaches, they had an opportunity to instill character traits that would last a lifetime. As a coach and mentor, I feel it’s my responsibility to pass on those same core character traits. I have listed only five of the many core character traits that wrestling has to offer. It is these five traits our wrestling program chooses to focus on because of their lasting impact.

Humility: There is no bigger test than competing in a physical one on one completive match. In wrestling, an athlete can’t hide behind or place blame on teammates for a loss. As an individual sport, wrestling will subject a competitor to the thrills of victory, as well, the humbling of defeat. This could be very challenging to many young athletes. This experience forces an individual to make a choice on how to proceed. Either give up or grow from the experience and move forward.

Work Ethic: Success in wrestling is directly related to how hard you work, period. Talent can make a difference, but the best wrestlers are typically separated by those who have put the extra time and effort into their preparation. This carries over into life because there is no substitute for hard work.

Discipline: Wrestling requires an uncommon sacrifice, dedication and most important discipline. Nothing will push you more mentally and physically than the sport of wrestling. Demanding one to be self-motivation and self-reliance to achieve one’s goals, which is all intertwined with discipline. It is you alone that stands in that circle on the wrestling mat. Yes, you’ll get help from coaches, mentors and your parents to prepare, but in a wrestling match it’s all on you.

Mental Toughness: Mental toughness is even more vital than physical toughness, as your mind will almost always give up before your body. Wrestling does develop physical toughness, but most importantly the aspect of mental toughness. In all sports, mental toughness plays a key component, but in wrestling, it’s more prevalent because of the one on one combative nature of the sport.

Confidence: Once you realize that the worst thing that can happen in wrestling is getting pinned, which can be upsetting, you have only one direction to go and that is forward. You may not be successful at first, but this can be achieved through work ethic, self-discipline and continual determination to improve one’s self. Once you put it all together then success will follow.

All five of these character traits are symbiotic because they rely on each other. Through one’s work ethic and self-discipline develops mental toughness and in the end one’s self-confidence, but it all starts with humility. I know wrestling isn’t for everyone, but if an athlete chooses to participate in wrestling then they will be rewarded with qualities that will remain with them throughout their lives.”

Rick Marabell has served as the head coach for the Creekside High School wrestling team since 2008, when he initiated the program; since then, he has been the only head coach for the team. Creekside High School, located in St. Johns, Florida is a Class 3A school for wrestling, meaning it has a very large student population and competes in the toughest division in the state against other giant high schools. This past season, Marabell headed a team that had three wrestlers – Hunter Brown (region champ), Bryan Fortay (2nd in regions), and Diego Rivera (4th in regions) – punch their tickets for the state tournament. In addition to these three state qualifiers, Creekside High School had three district champs (Brown, Fortay, and Vincent Approbato) and four other wrestlers who placed in the districts (Rivera, Hunter England, Andrew Feeks, Conner Wright, Cathan Simpson, Keanan Sexton, Lee Leavell, and Michael Little).

Marabell wrestled at both Keystone College and Millersville University. At Keystone, he was a two-time national qualifier in his college’s division. During his sophomore year, he was ranked number two in the nation for his division. Marabell furthered his wrestling accomplishments while serving as a starter on the U.S. Air Force Team. He was a member of the All-Air Force Team that was present at the Olympic training camp in the early 1990s. In total, Marabell wrestled hundreds of matches during his collegiate and Air Force careers, with the vast majority of those matches resulting in Marabell victories. When he graduated from Tunkhannock High School (Pennsylvania), he was only the second person in school history to record over 100 wins.

Creekside High School which, overall, has outstanding athletic programs as overseen and developed by its statewide-respected athletic director, Luke Marabell (brother of Rick), is also an academic powerhouse. The school ranks, academically, at the very top in Florida; the St. Johns County School District is ranked in the top 10 nationally. Smart schools employ smart wrestling coaches and athletic directors.

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Highlight Corner: Wrestling Hall of Famer Ken DeStefanis a Rock Star

By CANDY STALLWORTH

USA Wrestling Hall of Famer Ken DeStefanis, known to his friends and colleagues as “Kenny D”, has led one of the most eclectic careers in American wrestling. Following are some key highlights, making him a wrestling rock star.

As a Division 1 head coach, Kenny D compiled a 72% winning percentage, during a career that spanned 12 years for Central Connecticut State University; this winning percentage put him in the top 20 in the nation for active coaches.

Kenny D also racked up a tremendous record as a collegiate wrestler, going 66 – 9 during his own career on the mat for Central Connecticut.

He has coached thousands of wrestlers, from youth through high school through college – not only as a college and high school coach, but also through voluminous camps that he led under his Competitive Edge banner.

In addition to being in the national Wrestling Hall of Fame, Kenny D is in the Connecticut Wrestling Hall of Fame, where a powerful tribute video was produced as part of his induction. Numerous wrestling standouts spoke of not only Kenny D’s outstanding accomplishments in wrestling, but also of his great character as a human being.

Heading up Competitive Edge, a company that is one of the leading names in U.S. wrestling, Ken DeStefanis is not just a rock star, but a perennial wrestling star.

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THE PLIGHT OF THE GAS EMITTING BOVINES

By TEMPLE LI

A world without cattle.  But wait, why would we want a world without these bovines?  Cattle have been in our history for around 10,500 years.  That’s 10,500 years of cattle farts!

Apparently, all cattle are descended from animals that were domesticated from wild ox in the Near East.  Cattle are an all-encompassing term for bovines, both males and females, including cows, bulls, steers, heifers, bullocks and calves.   Cows are bovine females that have had offspring and heifers are females that have not had claves.   Bulls are the males of the species and bullocks usually refer to young bulls. Steers are castrated bulls.

Dairy cows can produce more than 8 gallons of milk per day.  As a result, dairy cows supply us with not only milk, but other products—some good for us; some bad—including butter, cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, whey , condensed milk and ice cream.   Based on the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics, toddlers should consume 2.5 daily servings of whole milk—not soy milk and not almond milk.

“Where’s the beef? “   Steers, heifers and bullocks produce beef of the highest quality and calves supply us with veal.  A serving of 3 ounces of lean beef provides 10% of the daily recommendation for protein, zinc, and Vitamin B12.  Beef production in the U.S. is a $200 billion industry with the average American consuming about 65 lbs. of beef per year,   But that’s just to satisfy our appetites.  In actuality over 98% of the beef bovine is used, with 45% as food.  The rest is an array of by-products, which include consumer goods from perfumes, detergents and shampoos, to athletic equipment, to gummy bears and pet food.

Cattle’s plethora of contributions to the health and well-being of society is apparently offset by their proclivity to excessive burping and farting,   If the Union of Concerned Scientists is to be believed, the methane gas they produce as a result of their flatulence , a gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide, equals annual heating-trapping emissions of 24 million cars.

So, what to do?  Do we follow the direction of the proponents of the Green New Deal to eliminate all farting cows within 12 years or are there saner heads with more realistic solutions?  Scientists are currently working on a genetic fix which would lessen methane emissions, while contributing to cost efficiencies; improving the nutritional make-up of the forage in pastures and climate-friendly pasture management.

So for the milk drinkers and steak eaters of America—there still is hope as long as the Green New Deal remains aspirational and not operational!

Temple Li is the news editor for Empire State News, where she frequently authors her own editorials (just because she feels like it). She graduated at the top of her class at a mediocre college, infuriating her professors with her conservative wit and sultry charm. Empire State News allows Ms. Li to make a living, and to have a platform to tell people what she thinks. What could be better than that?

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VIRTUAL SCHOOL AND HYBRID SCHOOL: OXYMORONIC AND UNNECESSARY FOR STUDENTS THIS YEAR

By CANDY STALLWORTH

Along with other insane phenomena, such as stay-at-home orders, business restrictions, and mask mandates brought about by COVID-19 in 2020, virtual/hybrid learning for K-12 schools is has been ubiquitous throughout the nation (and many parts of the world) since mid-March.  At that time, COVID-19 was spreading rapidly, and state governments quickly jumped to shutdown orders that effectively closed every school, public and private, in their respective states. In nearly all K-12 school settings across the county, this was the end of in-person schooling for the 2019-20 school year, as almost no schools reopened and all schooling was completed online.

But now, it’s the 2020-21 school year, and schools across the country have been in session, in some form other, for a month or more. There is tremendous variation in what students are experiencing this year. Let’s take a look, shall we, at the oxymoronic concepts of virtual learning and hybrid learning.

Virtual learning refers to learning via online tools. Typically, students’ school day consists of participation in an online,  “virtual” meeting using their computer and webcam and interacting with the teacher and other classmates through a platform such as Zoom or Google Meet.  Along with this, they may complete online activities such as watching videos, completing documents, playing games on educational websites, and the like.

Hybrid learning refers to learning through both in-person instruction and virtual learning. Students who engage in hybrid learning attend school in person part of the time and use virtual learning the rest of the time. So they have some normalcy in that they get to attend school. But even the in-person learning experience is fraught with changes and mandates that make it very different from any previous school year.

Here’s a sampling of what virtual learning and hybrid learning look like for students at various schools:

Some students, whose schools have mandated fully virtual learning, sit in front of their computer screen ALL DAY. That is, from approximately 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., depending upon their schedule. They endure hour after hour of tiled faces on their screens, of the inevitable struggles to sustain their attention, and the likely technological failures that can pop up at any time.  They take a quick, half-hour lunch break (of course, eating lunch in their own homes) and if they are lucky enough to finish eating with a few minutes to spare, can take laps around the backyard (or the house) as “recess” before they settle in for their afternoon in front of the screen.

At the other end of the virtual learning spectrum are the students who briefly meet with their teacher for a few minutes online, usually at the beginning of the day and then perhaps, for some, at the end of the day. For the rest of the day, they are working on assignments and activities that are delivered to them through their online platform, such as Google Classroom. If they have adults or older siblings around them to guide them or at least periodically check on them, then they have a better chance of actually learning something. If not, they are on their own.

Students in hybrid learning situations face a cacophony of schedules and structures. All of the following are actual hybrid school schedules that are occurring this year:

  • Students attend school in person every other day, for half a day. So one week, they attend Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The next week, they attend Tuesday and Thursday. The following week it is Monday, Wednesday, Friday again.
  • Students attend school for two set days (either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday) for half a day. Each group attends every other Friday, so students attend either two or three days, depending on the week.
  • Students attend school for five days one week, and the next week they are virtual all week. The following week, it’s back to school all week, and so on.
  • Schools have A,B,C,D,E (or some group of letters) days, rather than Monday through Friday. The letter days that they attend school vary, depending on holidays and other scheduling variations. Some schools actually have letter days in combinations with the actual days of the week, so students must keep track of the days of the week in the real world and the days of the week in their school world, in order to know when to attend school.

While this is a sample of hybrid instruction scheduling, there are many more scenarios. In all of these virtual and hybrid learning settings, the amount of actual teaching and learning that occurs is significantly decreased. In education circles, it is commonly understood that students lost at least 30% of the expected learning in the last school year. It is too soon to tell how much they will lose this year, if the shutdown insanity continues.

Not to mention, the quality of the school experience is far less than normal for those who are in school. Children are confined to circles, or squares, or plexiglass-enclosed areas that are “socially distanced” (there’s another oxymoronic term) from one another. Lunch time and recess, two major times for interaction and social growth, are minimized or eliminated in most schools. Instruction in subjects outside the core subject areas, such as gym, art, and music, are also minimized or typically relegated to asynchronous or optional instruction.  Academic support services such as speech, reading support, and occupational therapy are hit or miss. IEP’s for students with identified learning needs may or may not be followed carefully.

And speaking of losing, everyone is the loser when children have anything less than five-day-a-week, fully in-person instruction. Teachers lose out because they are working extra hard; on any given day, they are planning for students who are in school for the day, students who will come to school on their next scheduled day, and in many cases, students who are fully virtual. Teachers who are compelled to teach all virtual must scramble to gain proficiency with online tools. Administrators have become hand sanitizing/mask-wearing police, while figuring out their schools’ air filtration system and turning their hallways into one-way walkways, and addressing a host of other issues, such as how to sanitize books and lab equipment, ensuring everyone’s technology is functioning well, and understanding legal/privacy ramifications of online schooling. Parents and family members lose out, when working adults must adjust their work schedules and work spaces to accommodate children who are learning from home, and when they must become their child’s tutor to reteach concepts their children did not grasp through a computer screen.

But children are losing the most. The social interaction that comes from school is crucial for their development. To be physically separate from their peers and teachers, to be compelled to wear a mask all day at school, to have to conform to one-way arrows in the hallway, to enter through separate entrances into their school building, or to be forced to stay home and learn online is to be denied basic childhood experiences. Children need school in its usual form.

The hysteria that has led to closing schools altogether or opening in some inadequate fashion is sorely misplaced. It is well-established as medical fact that the survival rate for children who test positive for COVID-19 is above 99.99%. Teachers’ and administrators’ ages vary, of course, but the COVID survival rates overall are similarly high. There is no need for the widespread shutdown of schools that the country is facing now. Normalcy in our country is long overdue. Getting students back into schools is a good place to start.

Candy Stallworth, an Empire State News staff writer, whipped her way through a doctoral education at the finest of American higher ed institutions, noting how unoriginal, inept, and annoying many of the schools’ professors were in their robotic attempts to maintain a politically correct narrative. BTW: she hates words like “narrative”, “optics”, and “gaffe.” Other than that, her turn-offs include non-masculine men, women who hate men, men who hate men, phonies, disloyal people, and overflowing garbage cans. She likes New England clam chowder better than Manhattan clam chowder, but prefers Manhattan to New England.

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THE CASE FOR BARRY BONDS IN THE HALL OF FAME

By DANIEL SONNINSHINE

He is the all-time baseball career home run leader.

He holds the single-season record for home runs.

He was walked more – intentionally and “non”-intentionally than any player in MLB history.

Other than Babe Ruth, he was the most dominant baseball player than history.

Barry Bonds, definitively, belongs in the Hall of Fame. Alleged steroid use or not.

And FYI: he was convicted of no offense; he was actually acquitted. Additionally, he played in an era where numerous baseballers were doing steroids. In every era, players have utilized substances that enhanced their abilities. Steroids or no steroids, Bonds should be in the HOF.