DURHAM, N.C. --- For student-athletes on Duke’s wrestling team, Thursday, Jan. 11 began at 6:30 a.m. Scuffling to the gym, wrestlers participating in the tri-meet the next night in New York, N.Y., had a final weigh-in before departing. Clambering into vans, the team left Durham behind for the Big Apple.
The first stop was the state of New Jersey. Coach Mark Thompson’s high school received the Duke team, showed them their facilities and treated them to dinner. From there the team drove to the Edgewater Hotel, which overlooked the New York City skyline. Freshman Dan Adamo's parents helped the team find the great accomodations.
The following morning, 26 wrestlers ventured over to Wall Street for a scheduled tour of the New York Stock Exchange, organized by former Hofstra University wrestler Noel Thompson of Goldman Sachs. Bank of America Specialist Mark Fitzgerald and Vice-President of Goldman-Sachs’ Equities Division Andrew Wilson took an hour of their time with the student-athletes. These two specialists shared their experiences and challenged the wrestlers to have the same dedication they did to wrestling and athletics, and to apply it in the business world.
After that, the team checked into the New York Athletic Club, which overlooks Central Park. Some of the guys worked out to make weight. The meet itself went well with Duke securing big wins against Princeton and Davidson. It was a unique experience for the students.
“It was a privilege to wrestle at the prestigious New York Athletic Club in front of such a diverse audience,” said Coach Thompson. “You have people wearing a coat and tie and sipping wine while watching the matches.”
Following the match, the team enjoyed a banquet with Princeton and Duke Alumni.
“It was a wonderful way to socialize with alumni who’ve been supporting us and a great way to meet old teammates,” said Coach Thompson. “It was also an opportunity to put names and faces together with people who’ve contributed to the program.”
The Duke wrestlers enjoyed the next day visiting much of New York City. Waking up at 9:00 a.m., the coaches brought culture to the team—granting them the choice between visiting the American Museum of Natural History or the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Reflecting upon his morning at the “Met,” Coach Cameron Lawler said—“The wide range of art and collections gave a great deal of perspectives from different cultures—from Classic Greek and Roman to medieval armor to Picasso’s Blue Period.”
Freshman Mike Bell was one of many who embraced every aspect of the New York experience.
“Not everyone in NYC gets a tour of the Stock Exchange and the opportunity to compete or even stay at the prestigious New York Athletic Club,” said Bell. “The city was so dynamic and unpredictable—Wall Street, Times Square, Chinatown and Little Italy. It was just an eye-opening, fun experience that I may have never gotten to take if not for Duke Wrestling.”
Coach Clar Anderson thought it would be wise to give the wrestlers another dose of culture, so at 9:00 a.m., the next morning, they departed for Washington, D.C. for four hours of visiting monuments.
“It was really great to see the city that makes everything happen,” said captain and redshirt sophomore John Barone. “I was thrilled. Many of the guys on the team will one day work in or around D.C. and it was great that we could all experience it together.”
The Duke wrestling team proceeded to return to campus, ending a wonderful experience.
Freshman Willy Mello accurately concluded—“Going to Manhattan for the first time was an awesome experience and I’m extremely grateful that Coach Anderson was able to create a trip such as this. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do something like this again in the future.”