By Michael Grace-Dacosta
Gabriel Wright thought his wrestling career would be over when his senior high school season was cut short by mono.
“I really … loved [wrestling],” said Wright, a third-year chemical engineering student. “[But] I came here and they didn’t really have it anywhere.”
That’s about to change as Ryerson is partnering with the highly regarded Team Impact program to bring wrestling back to campus.
Team Impact met with Stephanie White, associate director of athletics, last winter to propose the idea of a partnership with Ryerson. After reviewing the proposal, athletics decided to move forward with the idea in June.
“Team Impact is the one that is carrying the heavy load,” said White. “We’re just opening the door that allows people to participate.”
The wrestling club will not receive financial support from Ryerson. Team Impact will provide the club with facilities and funding.
After two years the school will assess the club’s growth.
Team Impact is attempting to recreate its American mentorship program Beat the Streets, which aims to put at-risk kids on a better path, in Toronto.
It chose Ryerson because it needed to join with an inner-city school and because it was impressed by the school’s mentorship program, Rising Rams, said John Park, Team Impact general manager.
Park knows success isn’t easy and doesn’t expect the club to dominate Ontario University Athletics (OUA) right away.
“It’s like any program. You start from scratch and you build it,” he said. “I would be surprised if in three to five years we’re not one of the top programs in Ontario.” As for Wright, he’s ready to go.
“I still have my boots. I just need to dust them off.”