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High school builds on wrestling program, brick by brick

A New Jersey high school has come up with a win-win-win solution to make it easier for fans to enter and exit its auxiliary gym and demonstrate school support, while raising funds for its wrestling program… all brick by brick.

Former Absegami High School athletes are seeking to create a 75-foot concrete walkway from the auxiliary gym that will be bordered by 200 bricks that can carry the engravings of Braves sports fans.

"The sale of historic, personalized engraving bricks will raise money for the wrestling program," Frank Rudisill, a member of the Absegami Class of 1979 and former athlete, told the Shore News Today.

The bricks will be personally and permanently engraved to suit the wishes of Braves fans for a $50 fee, according to Rudisill, raising a total of $10,000 for Absegami wrestling.

The 200 paving bricks will serve as a decorative border for the 10-foot-wide concrete walkway which will link the school's auxiliary gym to the parking lot, replacing a dirt path that's dusty when dry, muddy and slippery when wet… and an eyesore no matter the weather.

Absegami Athletic Director and Class of 1987 alum Steve Fortis suggested the walkway project to Rudisill as a fundraiser for the wrestling program.

The idea received the backing of Absegami wrestling coach and the Braves' 1996 state wrestling champion Shawn Scannell, along with wrestling Booster Club President and 1987 Region 8 wrestling champion Joe Martin.

"This is a historic opportunity for Braves fans," according to Frank Rudisill. "Never before has anything been done on campus that will allow people to permanently mark achievements by past Absegami teams, honor current and past Braves, memorialize lost Braves or just leave a positive message about anything they wish."

He added the brick owners will finance the project, raise money for the wrestling team and make capital improvements, all without burdening the taxpayers, he said.
"The path will guide Braves athletes to and from practice and, depending on the sport, out to games," Rudisill said.

Wrestling coach Scannell weighed in on the significance of the fundraising project.

"This is all happening because we have people who care," said Scannell. "We have people who care about Absegami wrestling and the Absegami community as a whole. This is how you win. This is how you succeed. We have people who have come together here for a common purpose."

Order forms for the Path to Excellence bricks are found on Facebook at Absegami Wrestling Fan and Booster Club and on Twitter @gamiwrestling.

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