Now, it's (youth) wrestling season in New London

New London — You will note the timing of today’s discourse. A wee bit after Election Day, where all the promises are dying down to echoes, where we wonder if the promises will have teeth or fizzle into ambient noise.

Translation: Are you going to talk about it or do something about it?

Enter C.J. Satti, who is versed in the latter. He’s what New London needs right now. Beyond being a city native and a young guy who cares. Satti illustrates that in simplicity there is poetry: You take what you are good at and help others find their way.

Satti’s passion: wrestling. He comes from a family of accomplished wrestlers and didn’t do so bad himself at Ledyard High. But now he’s all grown up and giving back, using all of wrestling’s tentacles for the ever-noble purpose of helping kids in the 06320.

Satti is part of the gang that runs New London Youth Wrestling, a burgeoning city athletic program. The winter season began earlier this week for the kids, some as young as five, who practice three nights a week at the middle school and compete every Sunday. When it’s not the winter, Satti helps run the wrestling arm of Kent Ward’s Whaling City Athletic Club.

“I love doing it,” Satti said one day last week on a lunch break from his landscaping business. “New London Youth Wrestling as a whole is doing something cool for the community. People say it’s great what I’m doing for the kids, but what about what they’re doing for me? I have a purpose beyond work and making money. It gives me something to do with my passion.”

Wrestlers are different cats. The nature of the sport breeds layers of discipline, diligence and doggedness that can’t help but spill into everyday life. This is why it’s such a worthwhile endeavor. Even more worthwhile that Satti, who lives near downtown, wants to teach the kids in the city.

“I’m a New London guy. I’ve always been,” Satti said. “New London is my home, the place I love. When I was at Ledyard, everyone knew I was a New London guy. Listen, I embraced the culture at Ledyard. It’s one of the most successful programs in the history of the state. The bombshelter (where the wrestlers practice) is famous. Part of me wishes I could have done that at New London. But it wasn’t going to be that way.”

Once again: He could run this program anywhere. He chose New London.

“It’s more than wrestling,” Satti said. “We want to teach them community values that I think a lot of adults are lacking. A lot of adults out there I don’t think can be fixed. We can teach kids important lessons young enough so they don’t become those types of adults.”

More Satti: “People complain about millennials not working. We need to make them realize that if you want something — that job, that gold medal, that shiny car — it doesn’t just show up. You have to bust your rear end every day. That’s one of the simple things. I could talk about this for hours."

Few, if any, other individual athletic programs have shown more improvement in recent years than the wrestling program at New London High. Mike Gorton, the coach, has similar passion. And if success fosters success, not only will the Whalers attract more kids, but youth levels will, too. Imagine what the city might look and feel like if the kids adopt the aforementioned community values?

“We want to build a wrestling culture,” Satti said. “Get them to high school with the same wrestling knowledge so the high school coach doesn’t have to teach the basics we’re trying to teach.”

Satti said the best way for parents to learn is to come watch. (Or at least visit the New London Youth Wrestling page on Facebook).

“Come watch how the kids go through their warmup,” he said. “As a team. Loud. Together. I think wrestling is the place where I have the vessel to show the kids all those things like discipline, character and integrity.”

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro


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