Dashawn Tye didn’t find wrestling until he was a Ewing High School sophomore, but it helped give his life direction.
Now he is making sure younger children get that opportunity earlier in life if they want it through the Ewing Recreation Wrestling program.
“Wrestling helped me out a lot,” says Tye, the rec program’s fifth-year head coach. “Wrestling is a sport that teaches you about life. Life hits you with a lot of ups and downs. That’s what wrestling is about. You have to learn to work those obstacles out and find different ways to get up off the floor. That’s what helped me out. I’m a better person now because of that sport.
“It’s a sport that just makes you want to work hard and you have a lot of positive things that come out of it if you stick with it. It’s hard and it’s difficult, but that’s life. Life is hard and difficult.”
Tye says he will forever be grateful for his uncle, Irving Bruno, who pushed him to try wrestling.
“He’d seen some of the bad road I was going down, and I needed to get out a lot of energy and he talked me into wrestling,” Tye says. “He’s actually a Ewing police officer now. I think he’s been on the Ewing police force for the past 20-something years.”
Tye started helping former Ewing rec program head coach Mohamed Omara —another Ewing Police officer—with the program in 2009, and when Omara had to focus more time on his job, Tye was happy to step in and keep the program going. Over the last four years, he has been trying to build it up.
The Ewing rec program had barely a half dozen wrestlers only five years ago, but those numbers have been steadily climbing. They had 10 wrestlers two years ago and jumped to 18 last year. They capped the year with one gold medal, seven silver medals and nine bronze medals at the Delaware River Wrestling League Tournament.
“What’s been helping us out a lot is we’ve been getting the information out,” Tye says. “What’s surprising is a lot of people in Ewing don’t know too much about the rec program. We’ve been pushing it out.”
He said the program’s Facebook page and website helped out with membership, in addition to his efforts by himself and others to promote the program.
“A lot of the parents from the team are getting out and talking to people,” he says. “Doing various things in the community, that’s really been helping us out.”
The Ewing rec wrestling program is open to children grades kindergarten through eighth grade. Registration at ewingrecreationalwrestling.com opens on Oct. 1, and Tye says he is looking forward to coaching for another year. It’s something he’s been envisioning since he graduated Ewing High in 1997.
“I had a lot of good points about the sport and the coaches I had,” Tye says. “I wanted to give back to the coaches, the school and the sport by giving my time and showing my appreciation for the coaches. I had some awesome coaches that helped me out. I wrestled for three years, and in my three years of wrestling, the first year I didn’t know anything about the sport, the second year I took third in the districts, and my senior year I took first place in the districts.”
Tye is just one of the dedicated coaches that is intent on helping kids find their way to the mats. Imran Huq, who was a year behind Tye in school at Ewing High School, has been coaching the last four years.
“I enjoy it,” Huq says. “It’s great to see the kids enjoy it. Growing up, I loved the sport because of the individual-ness of it. All it is, is you on the mat. Your coaches can yell at you, but it’s a matter of what you do. I get joy out of seeing these kids enjoying the sport and even just hanging out and having fun at these practices. For me, it’s like giving back to the kids.”
Huq didn’t start wrestling until he was in eighth grade, and even though it was difficult early, he loved it. Now he’s giving others the chance for success sooner.
“I wrestled varsity freshman year, and it was a rough year,” Huq says. “You don’t have a lot of experience. You only learn a few things in eighth grade, and then you move into freshman year and a lot of the other wrestlers know a lot.”
He says that part of the reason he is working with the program now is to help kids get an earlier start—something he and Tye didn’t have.
“When you wrestle other teams in high school that have been doing for a while, you may be as strong as they, you may be as athletic as them, but you might not have the exact same knowledge as them,” Huq says.
Huq has seen first-hand the positive to starting early. He has a young son, Gibril, who is in the program and improving steadily.
“My intention is to keep coaching even when he’s outgrown the program,” Huq says. “I’d like to continue on with the group and help out. I’m from Ewing. I’ve been in Ewing my whole life. For me, the community is big and trying to help each other out. I envision myself continuing on even after he ages out of the program.”
Doug Weigle has two sons in the rec program, one who is in his final year of competing for the rec program before he joins the Ewing High School team that the rec program feeds.
Owen is 13 years old, and he’s looking to win all matches this winter for the Fisher Middle School program, while Luke is 9 years old.
A coach for the last two seasons, Weigle grew up wrestling from kindergarten on and competed all through college. He’s seeing his sons getting the same benefits that he did.
“No. 1 is discipline and humility,” Weigle says. “It doesn’t matter how hard you practice, you’re always going to go out there and lose at some point. Learning to take the losses with the wins helps you grow as a person, helps you figure out where you need to improve. Discipline and also just figuring out your strengths and weaknesses, on the mat and as a person.”
Weigle brought his experience to the coaching staff. He likes the way that the wrestlers are introduced to the sport and treated in the years to follow. It starts with Tye, who lives out his motto “Team equals family.”
“He’s really great with the kids,” Weigle says. “He speaks at their level, gives them motivational stories about when he was a wrestler he overcame some challenges. Also with his teammates, how they did and how they won when they shouldn’t have won and placed at districts, regionals or states.
“What we do as a program is, we don’t push the kids too hard, but we push them enough so they really can develop their skills and they’re feeling confident about themselves. We really look to develop the individual as a person and we take into account they’re kids, they’re going to want to have fun while they’re learning wrestling skills.”