Dated: December 13, 2013

By: Anthony Vecchiarello

The sport of wrestling is not what we see on television; overgrown and ripped men on testosterone, brutally knocking each other in a ring surrounded by thousands of screaming fans. Instead, it is a more basic sport in which, two athletes of equal size and mass go all out for a grueling, sweaty and intense match.

Hunter College in New York City has a competitive wrestling program for a Division III school. Within the last two seasons, the Hunter College Hawks Wrestling team had two NCAA National qualifiers, both Eduardo Delgado, and Musa De’Reese.

This 2013-14 Season, former Assistant Coach Chris Mazzatta has become the new Head Coach. With a rough season start of 0-3, 26-years-old Mazzatta still has a long season ahead of him to build up his players and himself as Head Coach.

Mazzatta, from Pennsylvania, has had a tough time dealing with a young team as there are no seniors on the roster this season. Being Head Coach has also given him pressure and headaches from his administration. Mazzatta wishes his coaching was more with his team on the padded mats.

However, there is hope this season as three new recruits are joining the team in the Spring Semester. One specifically resonated with Mazzatta, such as Jackson Mordente. Mordente from Long Island has come out of Sachem East High School with two state place wins. The other two recruits show promise in added strength.

As for now, motivating his players is a bit of a challenge as the wrestlers are also focused on academics. The Hawks also have the most diverse wrestling team in the country with athletes of many different races, religions and social classes. Fortunately, diversity has helped the chemistry between each player, Mazzatta acknowledged.

The team’s Captain, Junior Jesse Bader, at 5ft 7 and 165 pounds has been the star athlete and has impressed his coach thus far. Originally from Sanford M. Calhoun High School in Merrick, NY, Bader has now a current record of 10 wins and 3 losses. Each of his three losses was against top 8 national qualifiers.

“Last Friday, at NYU Jesse Bader, pinned this one guy,” Mazzatta said excitedly.

New York University (NYU) is even their biggest rival. The Hawks play this Saturday at home against Baldwin Wallace University from Ohio.  

Mazzatta prepares and trains his wrestlers on technique by reviewing moments from prior meets. And on Tuesdays and Wednesdays they do more drills.

“They beat themselves up for two hours,” Mazzatta said.

Mazzatta strives to eventually get some of his wrestlers to the Nationals. In order to get there, they first have to win the Conference Championship and win the Regional’s in a pool of 18 teams.

Mazzatta has been involved with wrestling since he was only 4. As a child, he watched his Father, Uncle, and older brother wrestle. His dad was a wrestler and his Uncle was a professional boxer. Mazzatta had a successful college wrestling career. He was a starter for four years and a captain for two. He helped lead his NCAA Division I team from Campbell University in North Carolina to two conference championships finishing twice in the top ten of the National GPA ranking. Mazzatta went even further to compete in the Pembroke Open, Sunshine Open, Southern Scuffle and Navy Classic tournaments. He finished in the top three at the East Region National Qualifier Tournament. Mazzatta has over 100 career victories and has broken the all-time record for school wins. He became Campbell University’s first four-time PIAA medalist. Mazzatta was a two-time All-American athlete. He eventually earned both his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Business Administration at Campbell University.

Regardless of his amazing career, Mazzatta believes the importance of Wrestling is not only to win competitions and meets, but to prepare his athletes for life. The discipline of balancing one’s diet, eating healthy and conditioning the body are fundamentals in improving lifestyle. He also feels that it helps ace job interviews.

“It goes deeper than coaching wrestling,” Mazzatta said.