San Marino Tribune: ‘From Plymouths to Pinfalls…’

Posted: July 24, 2014

Rotary Donates to Inner-City Wrestling Program. Photo by Scott Hu

CASH FOR CRASH: The Rotary Club of San Marino recently donated $15,000 in proceeds from the San Marino Auto Classic to ‘Beat the Streets – LA,’ a program that provides wrestling opportunities for underserved youth in Southern California. ABOVE: Fred Sohl, left – a former wrestler himself – and Rotary President Russ Osmonson.  Photo by Scott Hu

From Plymouths to Pinfalls…
Rotary Donates to Inner-City Wrestling Program
By Mitch Lehman
A famous United States Army General once said that among all other material on a young man’s resumé, two specific entries were a particular indicator for success: Eagle Scout and wrestler, not necessarily in that order.
The Rotary Club of San Marino last week provided a $15,000 donation to the latter, courtesy of proceeds from the 2014 San Marino Auto Classic as representatives from ‘Beat the Streets’ – a program that provides underserved young people an opportunity to succeed through wrestling.
Founded a half-decade ago in New York before migrating to Philadelphia and other cities on the east coast, ‘Beat the Streets’ opened in Southern California two years ago and already serves more than 500 young men and women in Los Angeles, San Pedro, South El Monte, San Fernando and other communities where wrestling once had little presence. A middle school program coordinated with the cooperation of the Los Angeles Unified School District has provided the most impact with hopes of growth throughout the region. San Marino resident Andy Barth, who was a collegiate all-American wrestler at Columbia, is a supporter of the program which operates in cooperation with USA Wrestling, the sport’s governing body.
“I was a kid in Oakland, going down the wrong path,” said Yero Washington, executive director of ‘Beat the Streets – LA’ “I went to live with a brother in Porterville. One day a neighbor said ‘hey, why don’t you come try [wrestling.] From the very first day there was something that pulled me in. It was a very good fit for me. I didn’t win a single match my first year, but that motivated me to do more.”
By “more,” Washington means a state championship by the time he graduated high school, followed by an All-American career at Fresno State, qualification for the United States national team and a blue-chip career as a college coach at the wrestling hotbeds of Columbia and Iowa State.
“You see a change in who they are, a confidence they gain through wrestling,” Washington said of the young people in his program. “Wrestling is an individual sport but it is also a team sport. It requires discipline and communication. It does wonders for young people, especially those who are lacking structure in their lives. Wrestling changed my life and I know it does the same for many, many others.”
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San Marino Rotary actively supports programs for youth which include providing books to underprivileged children, presenting the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards to local high school juniors, and the Teen Leadership Camp for local junior high school students. Club members also support organizations such as the San Marino public and private schools, La Casa de San Gabriel, YMCA and the Boy Scouts.