Kyle Snyder battles Jake Varner in the finals of the Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)Kyle Snyder became the youngest American to win a Senior World title when he captured the 97 kg gold medal at the 2015 World Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas at age 19. Snyder came out of Olympic redshirt and won the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Madison Square Garden as a sophomore for Ohio State, defeating two-time NCAA champion Nick Gwiazdowski of NC State in a classic heavyweight finals. In April, Snyder defeated 2012 Olympic champion Jake Varner in the finals of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials to earn a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team at the age of 20. In 2014, Snyder was selected to represent Team USA as the youngest-ever member of the Beat the Streets All-Star team.
Ray Lewis is the former linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, two-time Super Bowl Champion, and 2000's Super Bowl MVP. He was an All-American linebacker and a wrestling star at Kathleen High School in Lakeland, Florida. He has received numerous awards and honors throughout his 17-year career with the Ravens, becoming the team's all-time career leader in tackles. Lewis will be the Honorary Coach of the USA team at United in the Square.
Beat the Streets will also be awarding a number of New York City wrestlers and coaches in recognition of their achievements in the past year:
Junior League Girls Wrestler of the Year: Chloe Cabrera, MS 129, Bronx
Cabrera is a three-year middle-school wrestler who has stood out every season. Her accomplishments include her three times as Junior League Champion and being a member of the National Junior Honor Society for the past two years. She attends clinics at Beat the Streets and travels in the spring with Head Girls Coach Jacque Davis to out-of-state tournaments. As one of her supporters puts it, "she is always trying to better herself as a wrestler and has a bright future."
Junior League Boys Wrestler of the Year: Jayden Cardenas, MS 582, Brooklyn
Cardenas is from MS 582 Upper Ten Eyck and has been wrestling for five years. He was the NYC City Champion and USA Wrestling Kids State Champion this year. Cardenas credits his family, coach, and supporters with giving him the drive to stay committed to the sport. He aspires to compete on his high school team and eventually wrestle in the Olympics, winning many more gold medals.
Female Student-Athlete of the Year: Dennielle Phillip, Wingate Educational Campus, Brooklyn
Phillip has been wrestling for almost three years and already made quite an impact. She placed first at the Mohawk Valley tournament and also won the coveted PSAL Yankee Award. Phillip says that wrestling has opened many doors for her and helped her to become a more confident person. She plans to continue wrestling in college and pursue her studies in criminal justice.
Male Student-Athlete of the Year: Evan McFarland, Tottenville High School, Staten Island
McFarland is an Eagle Scout and captain of his wrestling team at Tottenville High School. He is a member of the National Honors Society and involved in numerous volunteering activities, including Habitat for Humanity and the March of Dimes walk. "'Resilient' might be the best word to describe Evan," said his Coach, John Cichon. "Leadership, character, dedication, and time management are some of Evan's best qualities that he shares unknowingly with everyone he comes in contact with." He hopes to become an engineer to best make a positive change in the world.
GRIT Award: Rachel Koltsov, The Bronx High School of Science
Koltsov is the captain of the Bronx Science Blended and female wrestling team and has been a member of the team for four years - dating back to when it was an all-boys team. She was instrumental in the team's victory at the PSAL Blended Wrestling Championship. From her three years wrestling, she finds that the sport has helped teach her a great deal of discipline and responsibility. Koltsov is known for being a hard worker and having an outstanding, personable character. She plans to continue wrestling in college while pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering.
LADY LIBERTY Award: Aileen Gonzalez, Brooklyn Technical High School
As a NYC high school boys coach said of this Brooklyn Tech veteran, "I'm glad my boys do not have to wrestle her next year." Gonzalez won the Girls City Championship and placed fourth in Boys City Championship. Gonzalez likes to be pushed to the limit and aspires - after winning the team city championships -- to attend and graduate college. The Lady Liberty Award is specifically given to a senior NYC female wrestler who has stood as a beacon of opportunity and promise, representing all that is strong and proud about the city's women's wrestling culture.
ATLAS Award and Become Your Own Dream Scholarship: Leonard Merkin, Poly Prep Country Day School, Brooklyn
Merkin has made his mark at Poly Prep Country Day School by becoming a four-time NYS Private School Champion. The Atlas Award is given to a senior NYC wrestler who has picked up wrestling on his back and carried it into new territory, set new standards, and advanced the legacy of Beat the Streets. He has received All-American honors and will soon be wrestling for Princeton. Merkin is also the winner of the Become Your Own Dream Scholarship, which is given annually to a New York City student-athlete who has overcome obstacles, felt hardship, and plans to continue wrestling in college.
Junior League Coach of the Year: Michael Wurmbrand, MS 582, Brooklyn
Wurmbrand is the head coach of MS 582 Upper Ten Eyck and has been involved in the sport for ten years. He's committed to wrestling because it shows clear transformations in students' behavior, attitude, and leadership with their teammates and in the classroom. Wurmbrand has done a good job maintaining a sizable team at a small school and looks forward to future changes now that he's able to start training younger student-athletes in elementary school.
High School Assistant Coach of the Year: Anthony Mirra, Tottenville High School, Staten Island
Mirra has been actively involved in Tottenville's wrestling program since he was a student-athlete himself. He admits the sport for helping to make kids tougher mentally, emotionally and physically. As the lightweight coach, Mirra has helped to produce at least one Mayor's Cup champion and at least one city champion every year. This past season, he saw six individuals crowned at the city championships and represent Tottenville at the state tournament in Albany, which has never been done by a large school's team before. As one supporter said of Mirra, "his dedication does not end when practice ends...he is the coach that wrestlers confide in when they are struggling."
Girls High School Coach of the Year: Theodore Cook, Harry S. Truman High School, Bronx
A veteran of wrestling with over twenty years of experience, Cook has inspired a number of students with his coaching abilities. He's widely respected for pushing his girls on the team that he started out of their comfort zones and daring them to try their hardest. "He is not afraid to go above and beyond to make sure his team reaches their full potential," said one student. Another writes: "I can honestly said Coach Cook is probably the most trustworthy and reliable person I know." Several of his supporters praise him as a father figure who helps lift everyone's spirits and inspires the girls with life lessons.
Boys High School Coach of the Year: Peter Cardone, William Cullen Bryant High School, Queens
Coach Cardone has made the most of having a dedicated wrestling room at WC Bryant High School and turned a program on the brink into city champions. Cardone's leadership, with the help of coaches Joe Goetz and Joseph Weinstein, grew his team from fifteen wrestlers to fifty-five. Cardone has overseen numerous accomplishments during his time with the school, including the NYC Freshman and Sophomore Title and becoming undefeated Region 4 Division Champions. "He has changed the lives of many wrestlers in the school by being with them through both good and hard times as a friend and a coach."
Volunteer of the Year: David Prado
Prado has been involved in wrestling since he was in elementary school and attended Arizona State on an athletic scholarship. He is committed to the sport because it has given him so much success and opportunity throughout his life that he seeks to "pay it forward" to other kids whenever possible. He shows tireless dedication to the cause of Beat the Streets, volunteering at practices several days a week.
The Beat the Streets gala is an annual fundraiser that raises money to support New York City student-athletes, having previously been hosted in such iconic locations as Times Square and Grand Central Terminal. The gala helps provide wrestling equipment and opportunities to 3,000 kids across the five boroughs every year. This year's celebration, "United in the Square," will see some of America's top wrestlers, including Jordan Burroughs and Adeline Gray, going up against world-class competition from Iran, Canada, and South Korea. The gala begins at 3:45 PM on Thursday, May 19 with exhibition matches featuring young wrestlers from NYC before the world class wrestling matches begin at 6:00 PM. Tickets for seating in Times Square and attendance at the post-match reception are available on the Beat the Streets website. The event will be streaming live on FloWrestling.