CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – Sam Speno is planning on becoming a physical education teacher so each summer the recent Fox Lane graduate sets aside a week to do what he enjoys – teach wrestling.
Speno, a three-time Section 1 Division I wrestling champion and three-time New York State place finisher, returned for his third year as a counselor at the New York State Wrestling Camp at John Jay Middle School.
Former Mahopac and Cornell great Joe Mazzurco and Troy Nickerson, his Cornell teammate, are the guest clinicians. Mazzurco is a three-time Section 1 champion and 1999 New York State titlist. Mazzurco, who finished with 191 varsity wins, was also a state runner-up and third-place finisher. He went on to be a two-time all-American at Cornell. Nickerson, an Iowa State assistant wrestling coach, is a five-time New York State titlist and also all-American at Cornell.
“I look forward to it every year,” said Speno, who will attend North Carolina State University in the fall and wrestle. “I have always wanted to be a Phys Ed teacher so working with and coaching kids, teaching them about wrestling is fun and I enjoy it.”
Even though Speno did not attend the camp during his brilliant Fox Lane career, he understands the impact he and his fellow counselors, all Section 1 champions, have on the young wrestlers.
“The great thing is I get to teach them about wrestling and then I watch them improve as the week goes on,” Speno said. “It’s nice to know that I was here and helped them with the sport so that one day one of these kids will become one of the best in the state from Section 1.”
Speno also received the opportunity to be Nickerson’s drill partner when the Iowa State assistant wrestling coach was explaining and demonstrating moves.
“It is pretty cool to say that I was wrestling with a five-time state champ and five-time Fargo champ,” Speno said.