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Brotherhood of wrestling

by EDGE

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday February 8, 2008

When the high school city wrestling championships are held at the end of this month, one of the surprising teams expected to contend for the title will be Mission High. That's surprising not just because the Mission Bears have never been a wrestling powerhouse, but because the team is getting a major coaching assistance from Golden Gate Wrestling Club - an adults-only wrestling team formed in 1982 to compete in the Gay Games.

It's an "only in San Francisco" partnership of city government, public school district and LGBT volunteer group forged out of budgetary necessity and mutual respect.

Prolonged remodeling work this summer on the wrestling room at Mission dragged into fall, leaving the team without a place to train. Rather than trying to piece together a season of training his teams in hallways, Mission Coach Jose Urista turned to Golden Gate.

"Who you date has nothing to do with the sport you play," Urista told Edge. "Wrestling is something that once you've experienced it first hand, it's a bonding experience. It's like a brotherhood."

GGWC had already been looking at creating a program to offer twice-monthly coaching clinics to all San Francisco high school wrestlers. When the wrestlers learned of Mission's predicament, they decided to "adopt" the high school that had been coached by GGWC founder Don Jung when the club formed in 1981.

Now five times a week, the sounds of shuffling feet fill the upstairs room of Eureka Valley Recreation Center when GGWC's Wrestling Alliance practices are held. Anywhere from 8 to 20 boys and girls trudge five blocks up 18th Street to attend each practice, supervised by Urista and 4 or 5 volunteer coaches from Golden Gate.

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