Wrestling takes tremendous commiment, and coaches love kids who are always ready to throw down. On the other hand, overdoing the commitment can induce a burn that leaves mat progress on the outs. “Sometimes you have to keep the kids out of the room,” says Grant Paswall of GPS Wrestling. But summer over, Paswall has his preseason program ready to simmer and bring its wrestlers to a boil for the 2017-18 school year.
“The kids we’ve been training all year are coming back and can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Paswall. “So we’re excited to get them ready to go.”
This year is a little different than the previous two, though. His 100 or so wrestlers had occupied a space across the street, but not enough elbow room forced a change of address last February. “We were busting out of the seams,” said Paswall.
Five months later, the location at 100 Business Park Drive has them more than stitching it together. “This is not only one of the best wrestling facilities in the county but in the country,” he says of the 4300 square feet space, which has free weights, a sauna and a waiting room for parents.
The best amenity, though, is that the name on the dotted line is meant to feel like it belongs to the kids. “It’s just been a really cool atmosphere as far as them being able to call it their own,” says the Somers Wrestling Alum. “They don’t just come to practice and leave. They hang out with one another before and after. So it’s theirs, and that has had an awesome affect.”
But it isn’t ability that nurtures the club’s camaraderie. “Our motto is good people first, good wrestlers second,” said Paswall.
Nonetheless, the All-American from the University of Illinois takes pride in offering plenty of latitude in defining the latter good. “The club caters to all skill levels and age - not just the tippy top,” says the Mahopac resident.
The mindset then can provide an outlet for the kid who can’t find a home on the varsity level. “I believe with weight categories and the one on one aspect, you have control of your own destiny,” he says. “You can be as good as you want to be.”
So GPS stays local with nearby tournaments and dual meets. On the other hand, when it comes to the top tier, GPS goes all in.
Paswall can point to the Cadet National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota as proof. All five of his wrestlers won at least one match in the toughest tournament in the country, and one fell just short of the top pedestal. “Jack Logan took second,” said Paswall.
Even so, Paswall doesn’t elevate the victories above the nuts and bolts. “The intangibles are far more important than getting your hands raised at any give time,” he said.
This means GPS makes sure their first floor locale isn’t the only thing building from the ground up. “It’s more than the basics, but doing the basics right,” he says.
Photo courtesy of Grant Paswall
But whether upright or on a roll, Paswall puts one precept above all the others. “You can’t do something like this without enjoying it,” Paswall confirmed.
He was sure to make that clear to Jack Logan as the finals descended on him. “Remember why we do this,” Paswall drove home the point.
At the same time, Paswall appreciates that he isn’t the only voice in the room. Between coaches and parents, he says, “I’d be lying if I said I was doing this all myself. There’s quite a team working behind the scenes.”
Of course, having only room enough for one on the podium doesn’t diminish the satisfaction for the numbers behind the successes. “A lot of people help them get there,” he said. “That’s why it’s so special.”
As a result, the contingent can’t help but double down. “It encourages us and motivates us,” Paswall asserted.
However that’s not to discount the bigger picture, and the mark wrestling leaves behind through hard work, commitment and perseverance. “It’s with you forever, because once a wrestler, always a wrestler,” he concluded.
Growing up, Sunday meant macaroni and meatballs and represented a nearly religious ritual that Church could never supplant. In fact, when my mother did occasionally stray from doctrine, she—at best—was greeted with some very quizzical glances at two in the afternoon. That said, sauce in a jar could have easily led to her excommunication, and no council of cardinals would have been required. So I was skeptical about doing a profile of a locally and ready made sauce called Cecina Antica. But it also presented the chance to restore my sauce-less Sunday’s to their sacred place.
I first did without when I went away to college but moving off campus in my junior year gave me the chance to make my own concoction. It was also my introduction to sauce in a jar.
When time did not permit the three-hour cooking, I’d roll my meatballs and simmer from the jar. Prego was palatable. Ragu, on the other hand, could almost be classified as a hate crime against the Italian people and its culture.
I Give My Own Sauce a Go
Nonetheless, my sauce—a la Mom's instruction—held up pretty well and that’s despite the fact that I used regular cooking oil to sauté the onions. That, I find remarkable, in the wake of why I stopped making my own sauce not so long ago.
The taste and quality had mostly remained the same since I stirred my first batch in 1984, and the substitution of olive oil speaks for itself. Unfortunately, I am older and the unintended zest and volatility, which I don’t know how to eliminate, creates much more of a run on my digestive system. I could only imagine what corn oil would do to me today. So with my Mom far off in Florida, and marrying for the sake of a good sauce not really sensible, it’s just not worth the pain.
Sauce from a Jar, Really?
Otherwise, Prego or anything else in a jar gets no consideration, as it’s quickly passed in the pasta aisle. But here in Cucina Antica is the possibility to finally reassert the vowel on the end of my last name and bring Sunday dinner back home.
The history that accompanies Cucina Antica gives my skepticism hope and probably makes it a lot easier on whoever is in charge of the marketing. Neil Fusco grew up on an Italian Farm in Southern Italy, where his family has worked the land for over 200 years. At the young age of seven, Mr. Fusco would leave school early to prepare the family meal, and by the late 1990s, he took that experience to open his own New York City restaurant.
In turn, customers started coming in to simply buy the sauce he had perfected over the years. Mr. Fusco would jar it and send them home happy. One day, walking passed all the abominations in the sauce aisle, he decided he could do better.
What’s in the Sauce Counts
Of course, the recipe begins with the tomatoes, and what better place to start than his family's stock? Grown in the shadow and fertile ash of Mt. Vesuvius, the purity of the plums means sugar and an overabundance of sodium will not be found.
Coming with minimal usage of pesticides, the narrative definitely suffices, but I’m sure even Ragu has a story that would bring tears to the eyes of my great grandfather Vito Cafueri. And whether Mr. Fusco gets the main ingredient from A&P or the ruins of Pompeii, all that matters is if I have something to tie today's Sundays to my past.
It also goes without saying that glutton-free means as much to me as a pair of deuces would have in all the poker games that broke out after Sunday dinner in my grandparent's Bronx apartment. Either way, on Saturday I checked to the dealer, and came home with a jar and a pound and a half of chop meat. I rolled my meatballs, fried them up in olive oil, and painfully put off the possibility of properly filling my Sunday’s.
Sunday Dinner Finally Comes Home
I woke up, followed through on my weekly writing jaunt at the Peekskill Coffee House and came home in anticipation. I put on the water, simmered the meatballs in the sauce and stirred. A half hour later, I set myself in front of the TV and…
How do I describe? I don’t. The only question is will I be eating Cucina Antica next Sunday? No, but that’s only because I’m going to Florida this week to visit my parents. But the week after and the week after that, and as long as I’m up for making the meatballs, my Sundays are set.