By Rob Tetro
Sometime soon, the Phoenix varsity wrestling team could once again be one of the best teams in New York state.
This possibility was enhanced by the presence of seven seniors this season. Codie Corso, Ryan Pinzer, Jason Nipper, Austin Dristle, Billy Orstrander, Brian Stafford and Derrick Powell left a unique mark on the Phoenix wrestling program.
Coach Gene Mills said this group of seniors worked hard while showing some of the Firebirds impressive younger wrestlers what a consistently solid work ethic is all about.Their efforts paid off. This season, Phoenix had many younger wrestlers put in the work necessary for them to begin to realize their potential.
Mills hopes the seniors’ participation in the Phoenix wrestling program taught them the value of hard work. He hopes his seniors are now physically and mentally prepared to display the work ethic necessary for them to accomplish any goal they have for themselves.
However, as important as athletics is to Mills, most important is that his athletes begin to learn about being good citizens. As those traits continue to develop in his athletes throughout their participation within Phoenix wrestling, he also encourages them to be good students and good athletes, in that order.
Now that these seven seniors are a few months away from taking on the next phase of their lives, Mills hopes Phoenix wrestling has helped them to become better wrestlers, better students and most importantly, better people.
Mills hopes supporters of the Phoenix wrestling program are excited about the athletes he has coming up through the ranks. He said individual and team success could be in the cards for the Firebirds in the very near future because his returning athletes understand that given the abilities they bring to the table, the sky is the limit.
Yet, he points out that the difference between a good team and a State Championship team isn’t based on ability but rather on how dedicated a team is to consistently improving.
Make no mistake about it, Mills believes his younger athletes have the potential of bringing Phoenix another State Championship. However, they will not be able to earn the right to compete at that level until they embrace a hardnosed mentality in every phase of the wrestling season.