What is a great athlete? Is it the final relay runner who crosses the finish line or the teammate who handed her the baton? Is it the tallest basketball player who can hang off the hoop after dunking the ball or the little guy who passed it to him 10 seconds earlier? Is it the hockey player who makes the goal or the goaltender who prevents the other team from scoring for three periods?
A great athlete isn’t necessarily the one that gets all the accolades or who wins every event. A great athlete is the boy or girl, man or woman who gives everything he or she has to their sport. The team player who attends every practice and works just as hard or harder than teammates twice as strong and double the experience.
Amity High School has many fine athletes, some “benchwarmers” show they’ve got the right stuff when given a chance.
This year there is one sophomore who has always been interested in sports. She’s done gymnastics, field hockey, outdoor track and more. No matter what she’s doing, she puts everything she has into it.
During the fall field hockey season, Shayna Goldblatt, 15, of Orange began talking to the new Athletic Trainer, Kim Pearce every time she had a chance.
Pearce played football and wrestled when she attended Oxford High School and saw something special in young Shayna.
Noticing the drive and determination she showed on the field, Pearce told her, “You would be perfect for wrestling.”
After several conversations and careful consideration, Shayna was ready to try something different.
“It took a long time to convince my parents. I had to beg them, and when they realized I was serious about it, they agreed to let me try out,” she said.
No parent wants to see their daughter tossed around and held down by boys bigger than her.
Shayna’s father Mitch said, “It’s something she really wanted to do. She’s so determined and works so hard.”
Of her new endeavor, Shayna said, “I LOVE IT, it’s different from any sport I’ve done. The technical side of wrestling is the toughest. You need to have a willingness to give it your all and it takes everything out of you.
“Practices are the hardest workout I’ve ever done, and it’s all for a 6 minute match,” she said.
At 94 pounds, Shayna is wrestling kids in the 99-106 weight class.
“It’s hard, but I put up a good fight,” she said.
Giving her all
In her first tournament in Shelton, where she was the only female, she wrestled a boy who had 10 pounds on her and he also had 3 years experience. She held her own until she was ultimately pinned. Shayna racked it up to experience.
“Wrestling is a team sport, but it’s all on YOU — you against one other person — you have to do it and want it,” she said. “You get out there on the mat, try your hardest and leave it all out there.”
After a match you have to figure out what you did wrong and work on the moves that didn’t work and improve on getting out of a jam.
Shayna said she appreciates the support she receives from Pearce and her parents.
“For my first tournament, which lasted several hours, my mother came and stayed for every match,” she said.
Opportunity of a Lifetime
On Sunday, Dec. 27, Shayna got the opportunity of a lifetime to meet and work with Women’s Wrestling Olympian Elena Pirozhkova in Springfield, Mass.
It turns out that her wrestling coach Todd Patterson went to high school with Pirozhkova and asked Pearson, to talk to Shayna about going to a clinic.
“So, on Sunday Kim and I went to a clinic with Todd and Corynne Chadwick and her father in Springfield Mass. and we got to meet and work with Elena,” Shayna said. “When we went off into groups to practice moves she spent most of her time with Corynne and me which was super cool because she focused so much on us and trying to get us to become better at the moves she taught us.”
“It was such an amazing experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. I am so glad that she took the time to work one on one with us,” she said.
It looks like the opportunity really gave her an advantage. Shayna competed in the Danbury Holiday Tournament on Monday, Dec. 28, and she won her first match ever (against Portland) and after that she won her second match (against Joel Barlow) and placed 4th in the 99lb weight class at the tournament.
Aside from Field Hockey, last spring we saw Shayna participate in outdoor track.
She competed in sprints and long jump, but in 2016, she wants to do long distance running.
Last summer she competed in her first 5K, the Peck Place Panther Pounce and placed second in her age group. She liked it so much that she ran in the Rotary Turkey Trot and took first place in her division.
The Amity Wrestling Team will host a meet in Woodbridge on Jan. 6.