The Pearl River Athletic Department showed off the newly renovated wrestling room at the high school during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday.
Nobody appreciated the upgraded facility more than Pearl River wrestling Head Coach Grier Yorks.
"I'm pinching myself," Yorks said.
The wrestling room is filled with new training tools and technology as well as inspirational materials such as pictures of members of the Pearl River wrestling Hall of Fame. The upgrades also include a digital sign outside the gym used by all of Pearl River's athletic programs and a Pearl River Wrestling Association website with information, pictures and video.
"Endless hours of time, energy and resources were donated to make this project possible," Pearl River Director of Athletics Todd Santabarbara said. "State of the art technology and state of the art training equipment has been installed to rejuvenate the Pirate wrestling program to prepare our athletes mentally and physically and, most of all, provide them the opportunity to maximize their athletic ability to compete with the best in New York state."
The training equipment includes a peg board (used for climbing exercises), pull-up bars, high-intensity rope training system, Bulgarian training bags, burn machines and portable training wrestling dummies.
"It's tremendous," Yorks said. "We used to do up-downs. Now we can do all sorts of interval training. I can send kids to certain sites in terms of strength training and workouts. It's all stuff we never had and it's all great for wrestling."
The technology includes a coach's corner, where the staff can access video the athletes' matches and training videos and put them on a small monitor for one-on-one instruction or a larger screen at the other end of the room.
"The day after a match, as the kids work out, I can pull each kid individually," Yorks said. "I can show him what he did wrong and what he can do better. We used to do that with a little TV set. This is just amazing."
Wrestlers demonstrated the use of the training tools and parent Bob Gullo showed off the technology during Thursday's ceremony, which drew parents, members of the school board and alumni.
Santabarbara said a group of parents approached him a year ago to suggest the renovation. Gullo took the lead in organizing the project and made a sizeable financial donation, though many parents and other supporters worked together to make the changes happen.
"If it wasn't for the leadership, professionalism, strong work ethic, generosity, determination and passion for the sport of wrestling from the parents, and most of all Bob Gullo, we would not be here this evening," Santabarbara said.
Gullo was honored for his efforts. He, in turn, thanked Santabarbara for his support. The athletic department reviewed the plans the parents came up with, which were later approved by the Pearl River Board of Education.
The goal behind the renovation of the room and the addition of the website was to upgrade the program and raise awareness of Pearl River wrestling.
"Wrestling is not a glamour sport, but we're getting attention with this," Yorks said. "It's a much nicer room. The kids love it."