“For the Wrestling Cause and the Great Men & Women it Creates”

Originally created to give our #EliteFamily Seniors Student/Athlete/Wrestlers financial scholarships for college and create opportunities for low-income families to participate in the Elite Wrestling Program at no cost. Today, the Trust still does those services but has grown into doing more for other by supporting Veteran’s reacclimation, local team booster clubs for wrestling programs, financial and resource support for senior level wrestlers competing nationally. In all the Elite for Life Trust is a life-long support system for our #EliteFamily.

We create opportunity, in exchange we expect

  • Discipline & Time Management. It is the foundation of Success
  • You to Build self-confidence and pride in accomplishment
  • You to Work closely and honestly with head instructor and our highly-experienced staff
  • You to have self-respect and respect for others
  • You to participate in Community Service for those in need
  • You to be accountable for all actions, all impressions matter!
  • You to be goals oriented, short term & long term goals
  • You to Analyse your goals, make adjustments for success
  • You At home, Striving to be a productive and responsible family member
  • You at School, Striving to be the best student you can be educationally or vocationally
  • You Socially, Striving to be a Strong, Confident, Leader demonstrating the knowledge of Right from Wrong
  • You Professionally, Dreaming BIG, believing there is no limit to what one can accomplish with resources

Elite for Life Trust College Scholarship

CANDIDATE: Must be a College bound Senior who currently wrestles for Elite Wrestling and currently wrestles in HS. Student must have at least a 3.0 GPA to qualify. Student must not be recipient of full scholarship and must plan on attending either a 2 or 4 year accredited university in the Fall Semester of that year.

REWARD: $500.00 or $250.00 Paid to College Admissions, Campus Bookstore, Student Credit Union or other campus identity.

APPLICATION PROCESS: Copy of HS transcripts, Min 1000-word Essay on:

“How being involved in Elite Wrestling has changed your life for the better, and the impact it and the coaches have played in that change.”

SUBMIT TO: [email protected]

Submissions are due by the last day of Elite’s #BetterEveryday Summer Camp, week of July 11th

Elite for Life Trust College Scholarship Recipients

This is our 11th year of giving, 37 recipients and over $19,500 in Scholarship funds

2023 Recipients 

Zander Silva (CBA/Princeton), Peter Albine (Jackson Liberty/Clemson) , Mandy Gavares (Old Bridge/ESU), Anthony Lawrence (CBA/ESU)

In addition to the 3 senior student/athlete scholarships we gave this year. The Elite for Life Trust sponsored Student/Athlete Paul Kenny and his quest to make the USA World Team through the 2023 US Open. Paul won the US Open and now will be representing Team USA at the 17U World Championship in Turkey.

2022 Recipients

Gabby Miller (Old Bridge/Lock Haven), Cole Anderson (TRN/King’s College of Pa), Brady Carter (Lacey/ESU)

2021 Recipents

Jess Johnson (Manalapan/Lock Haven), Chloe Ayers (Princeton/Princeton), Shailen Savur (Robbinsville/Wesleyan), Brett Blaess (Jackson/Baldwin & Wallace), Logan Waller (Colts Neck/ Kutztown), Jackson Brandt (Lacey/Ursinus)

In addition to the 5 senior student/athlete scholarships we gave this year. The Trust sponsors two girls. Both Elite homegrown and now NJ State Champions. Old Bridge Gabby Miller and Lakewood Jayla Hahn. Both just starting their senior seasons. We are very proud of the work they are doing on and off the mats.

2020 Recipients 

Nick Golden (Allentown/TCNJ), Hunter Smith (Jackson Memorial/Davis & Elkins College), Justin Burkert (Toms River North/Coastal Carolina),

2019 Recipients 

Vincent Scollo (Jackson Memorial/Davis & Elkins College), Paul Santamarco (Manalapan/Lycoming)

2018 Recipients

Richie Koehler (CBA/Rider), Tim Fitzpatrick (Holy Spirit/American Univ.), Nick Tomasiello (Jackson Memorial/Millersville)

2017 Recipients

Matt McGowen (Jackson Memorial/ USCG), Mike Goebel (Manalapan/ ESU), Logan Fox (Robbinsville/ Springfield)

2016 Recipients

Sebastian Rivera (CBA/ Northwestern), Stephen Nadera (Old Bridge/ JWU), Tanner Kelly (Jackson Memorial/ JWU), Kris Lindeman (Howell/Iowa Central), Dylan James (Michigan State)

2015 Recipients

Fred Terranova (Jackson Memorial/Augustana), Joe Santamarco (Manalapan/Lycoming), Kyle Brandt (Lacey/Lycoming), Paul Piccione (St John Vianney/ Steven’s)

2014 Recipients

Mezziah Bethea (Trenton Central/ UPenn), Gordon Wolf (Lawrence/ Lehigh), Richard Henries (Trenton Central)

2013 Recipients

Brian Hamann (Jackson Memorial/ NC State), Sean Pryzbylkowski (New Eqypt)

Contact Steve Rivera for more details 732-433-5890 or email [email protected]

2023 Elite for Life Student/Athlete Showcase 

Mandy Gavares
Old Bridge/ East Stroudsburg University

Defined as “Strength in the face of pain”, courage is the key to unlocking the doors that seem to shut right in your face. Wrestling did not plant the seeds of courage within me, instead it watered the seeds that waited my whole life to grow and blossom. The little bit of courage I possessed at first helped start my wrestling career as an eighth grader at Jonas Salk Middle School. Their all boys team did not know how to handle a girl, the first girl, on their mats. Even the head coach, admitted his cluelessness. At first, he thought I wanted to be a manager and treated me as such, but I followed what the other guys on my team did and shrugged any negativity off. None of my teammates showed fear and if I wanted to prove I belong, I could not break either. I spent that season learning, but not just technique and rules. I observed the habits of great wrestlers and found that the courageous ones got their hands raised the most. The guys on my team who fought tooth and nail against their bigger, scarier opponents had courage and even when they lost, they bounced back immediately. I learned about “embracing the suck” and standing up to fear in pursuit of greatness. To this day I firmly believe that those mindsets are the foundation not just for a successful wrestling career, but for a successful life, and without wrestling I would not have those foundations.

After my eighth grade season I learned about off season wrestling and joined my first club, Rhino Wrestling. The extra mat time felt great, but they lacked female presence, and I knew I was missing out on a lot of opportunities. My high school provided me with the opportunity to wrestle on their offseason summer team, and thankfully I took full advantage of it despite hesitation from having to wrestle high school guys. Through those summer events I met Gabby Miller, who introduced me to Elite Wrestling, a club that represented courage to the highest levels. More than just that, they accepted girls with open arms and for the first time…I was part of a girls’ team. The female practices ran by Bri Bogdan became my first taste of wrestling comradery. I saw how each girl worked together and helped each other despite differing age and experience levels. Even as the new girl, they treated me like family and even helped me learn freestyle two weeks before my first freestyle tournament, Super 32.

Elite was my first experience with practices so grueling that people stopped wrestling to throw up. My first few days outside of the all girl’s practices pushed me past my limits and made me second guess if I belonged in this sport. It was a reality check that showed that I needed to get a lot tougher and a lot more courageous if I wanted to wrestle. I witnessed a plethora of athletes vomit then go straight back to wrestling, I heard Coach Steve yell and call out athletes for all of their shenanigans, and I saw the phrase “blood, sweat and tears” come to life. As much as all of that shocked me, it also expanded my courage. I followed the path of those tougher athletes in the room, and now I “embrace the suck” and enjoy the blood, sweat, and tears. I do not think any other club could have instilled that mentality in me; even now I have yet to see anyone else run a room as onerous as Elite.

On top of the rigorous practices that exhibited real bravery, Elite Wrestling taught me how to compete. The work and grit I learned to put in during practice eventually carried over to matches. In the room you have to wrestle whoever is in front of you and you have to give it your all, just like you should in a match. It may have taken a few years, but each and every practice I built up my courage and allowed the fear of competing to subside. Now, instead of dodging them, I chase the hard matches. Coach Steve is emphatic about performance over results. To this day he talks about how it is okay to lose, but not okay to chicken out and give up. Once I bought into that, I saw myself jump levels.

To continue, the courage that grew from wrestling transitioned into my daily life. I went from an average student with minimal school participation to graduating with a 4.6 GPA and participation from clubs, honors societies, etc. I stopped fearing failure in school and started to embrace the learning process, just like how I did with wrestling. Embracing the “grind” and not thinking about results is how I found my passion for math and now this fall I will be majoring in Mathematics at Ursinus. Math rests far outside of my comfort zone, but so does wrestling. Life and wrestling are parallels: if I can thrive on the mat with courage and an open mind, I can thrive in any aspect of life.

To add on, my life goals broadened because of wrestling. Within the sport, I hope to become a national champion and then make my way to the international stage. Outside of wrestling I hope to earn my P.H.D in Mathematics, go into statistics and do research, and possibly teach at some point in my life. Without courage, I would not even think to attempt achieving these goals. Realistically, they sound far-fetched, I mean, I could not even win a state title in high school, how can I win a national one in college? Through Elite, I learned that unrealistic goals are not unrealistic if you are not a coward. With the right preparation and attitude, you can beat anyone on any given day.

Courage is the main factor that separates the good from the great. Matt Ramos needed courage to upset Spencer Lee, C.E.O’s needed courage to start their business, and I think you get where I am going with this. Wrestling turned the seeds of courage I held within me into blossoming flowers, and Elite acted as the fertilizer, constantly pushing me to grow and providing me with the opportunities I missed out on years ago. There are more goals to set, more obstacles to overcome and more fear to face, but I believe in myself, my preparation, and my courage, so I know that I can handle it all.

2023 Elite for Life Student/Athlete Showcase 

Zander Silva
Christian Brothers Academy / Princeton University)

Getting pulled out of the hallway during sixth grade, where my assistant soccer coach specifically states, “ I heard you play football, looks like your wrestling for me” had to be the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. Obviously being in sixth grade with the only wrestling that I’ve ever known was WWE, I was a little skeptical. I went to my first practice and was awfully confused on how this works, but I started to like it. Fast forward a couple school practices and my first match arrived. I stepped out with confidence and got pinned in maybe 15-20 seconds. I was mortified, I hated the sport at the beginning and contemplated quitting. After getting my rear-end handed to me a couple times I had a very close match with an opponent from Marlboro. I lost by a point with about a second left. A second away from winning my first match. This lit a fire under me, I got the realization that more work needed to be done. So I did a little bit of research and got a suggestion about trying out Elite Wrestling Club. On a cloudy Wednesday night I packed my bags and had my mom drive me over to Elite Toms River and I specifically remember seeing Frankie Edgar as soon as I walked in and instantly knew this was the place to be. Hayden Hrymack and Vinnie Dellefave were running the first practice there. To be honest at first, I didn’t think either Hayden or Delle liked me. I was the new kid with little to no knowledge of wrestling. After a couple practices I started to hang with my partners. I was getting into little scrambles and began to score takedowns. My confidence was beginning to grow and I thought I could make my way into Jackson Elite. I met Steve for the first time at Jackson who welcomed me with open arms. Steve made it apparent that there were no dumb questions in my situation and encouraged me to make mistakes because that is what practice is for. Fast forward a few weeks, I wrestled against Millstone and got my first win with a wrist and a half. I was ecstatic. There was no better feeling and I knew I fell in love with the sport. So I started heading to Elite, specifically both locations, back and forth. Fast forward to seventh grade I qualified for youth states with the help of my coaches and my training partners. I went 2-2 and was not happy with how I did. My only solution, keep working harder. 

Eighth grade came around and I was wrestling in many dual tournaments and doing countless privates with my coaches. I was confident with my wrestling abilities at this point and had a goal in mind, to place top eight at youth states. At the time, it seemed like the biggest deal in the world so I put my mind to it. I went undefeated during my regular middle school season and I had strong confidence I could make some noise this year. March came the state tournament and I was lucky to be coached by some of Jackson Memorial’s best such as BJ Young and Dougie Hamman. That year was a bittersweet feeling, I had a great run throughout the tournament then lost in overtime, in the blood round. I was devastated. I thought it was the end of the world for me and I lost all confidence with myself. I was beyond heartbroken, but I knew this wasn’t the end, my coaches informed me this was only the beginning and I was just getting started. 

With the advice from the Elite staff, going to CBA was the best decision I could have ever made in my life. After learning about the successes of Sebastian Rivera, and the similar background we both came from, I figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give it a shot. I remember Steve telling me CBA is all good things and I heeded his advice. Freshman year rolled around the corner and I remember absolutely dreading the Elite Practices with a sweatshirt and sweatpants. I knew it had to be done and I had all of my coaches reminding me that I’m no one’s bitch and that stuff that needed to be done, needed to be done. Whether it was losing 7 pounds that night before a match or going over a mistake during a match, or just cleaning up some basic technique to stay sharp. I had this preached to me and I did more than I believed I was going to achieve. 

A bump in the road occurred as COVID rolled around. The little privates we had kept me from going insane for being inside for such long periods of time. I kept working towards my goals throughout this time with the help of all my coaches from this club. Due to this, I ended up making the blood round of states my sophomore year with all the mass confusion due to the newly implemented super regions. Junior year came around and this time I learnt to believe. Believing in your preparation goes a much longer way than just those three words. I learnt the true value of training and how much effort you put into practice translates into your matches. Because of this and the countless hours of training my coaches provided me with, I was able to take third in the state. I never thought I would place this high, after all, my goal was originally to place once in high school. 

Sequentially, I started to get recruited by Top Division 1 schools such as UNC, Virginia Tech and Columbia. But after rolling around with Princeton coach, Joe Dubuque at Elite, he offered a visit and I was then sold. I then committed to Princeton University to wrestle for the next 4 years. My senior year, I went out with the intention of just having fun and appreciate the privilege to wrestle. I ultimately took 2nd in the state and I wasn’t horribly devastated as I knew I prepared myself and I did just that, so I held no grudge against myself.

Now I am here today typing this essay, about to assist the younger kids at Elite Camp with my college coach being the guest. I never knew any of this would be possible. But I had great mentors along the way, great training partners and endured all the suffering in this burning barn which has and will continue to make me be the best man I can be on and off the mat.

2023 Elite for Life Student/Athlete Showcase

Peter Abline 
Jackson Liberty / Clemson University

When I started wrestling, I thought I would just do it as a fun sport. When I got to middle school, I realized that I wanted to take it more seriously. When I got into 7th grade, I found out about Elite Wrestling and that’s when I started going to practices. In the early stages of going to Elite, I had little self confidence and a lot of self doubt as I constantly told myself that I was the worst wrestler in the room. Living in Jackson, my dad drove me all the way to Toms River because it was the “easier room”. After a couple of months, I was told to start going to the Jackson room. I was terrified and nervous the entire time leading up to it, I had no clue what to think. As I started wrestling there, I realized the competition was definitely harder, but it would only make me better.

As I kept wrestling, I realized the amount of progress I was making. Throughout middle school I was one of the best on the team. Everything was going good until my freshman year. I was a backup and knew I had to change something. I stepped it up at Elite and worked harder than ever. Even as a young freshman at 102 pounds, I managed to work my way into the starting lineup wrestling 113. I credited this to not giving up which included working out at Elite and keeping a positive mindset. As the season came to an end, I was screwed out of a spot to wrestle in districts which only made me want to work harder. Immediately after that season, the Coronavirus hit.

When the Coronavirus lockdown first started, I was happy that I had two weeks off of school. When those two weeks passed and we had not returned to school, I began to feel confused. As the weeks went on I grew bored of being in my own home, I felt trapped. I became anxious to do anything possible and when I saw that Elite was opening back up during the lockdown, I immediately jumped on it and started going to practice. This really lifted my spirits as I was able to return to the sport I loved. I really feel like Elite not only gave me an outlet to continue to do what I love, but it truly saved my sanity. It was the one bit of normalcy in my life during a time when it seemed like the whole world stopped. I continued working hard, and the following season was a shortened one. It definitely took a couple years, but soon enough I was my team captain and helped my team out in every match.

During my junior year I went down a bad path struggling with my mental health. My grades started dropping, I started disliking the team that I was on, and I started disliking myself. I was constantly in some sort of bad mood. Although it was easily my best high school season, I felt my individual performance was lackluster and felt as if I wanted to quit. Going to Elite helped me andI felt as if it was my escape from the real world. The couple of hours a week I spent there helped me battle my mental health and I slowly became myself towards the end of the season. Even though my season ended with a concussion in districts, I was happy to be able to start to feel like myself again and it felt good to be reconnected with my teammates.

Over the years, all of the hard work I put in definitely paid off. Although I didn’t achieve all of my goals in my wrestling career, Elite has given me strengths I can keep for the rest of my life. Discipline is the biggest thing I learned. After my years at Elite, I realized how much of a sacrifice it really was. To train in a room with a temperature of 95 degrees while cutting weight and battling injuries is definitely crazy to look back on. A big part of this was the support I had in the room. All of the coaches helped me in different ways and were supportive of every single wrestler in the room individually. This really made me feel part of a family while inside of the building. During my time I never had a favorite coach. I knew that any coach I talked to would help with anything I needed. Throughout the time I spent wrestling, I had to have talked to 30 different coaches, all of them being very helpful. One moment that stands out to me was when I was in a tournament that was way out of my skill range. It felt as if I was just there while the rest of the team was successful. Throughout the tournament I was 0-9, until the very last match of the weekend. I somehow managed to win and I ran off the mat with a huge smile on my face, right into a hug from Coach Vinnie and Coach Hayden. Throughout my whole career, that moment stuck with me as I truly found the joy that the sport could bring. Several years later, during a random practice in my senior year of highschool, Coach Vinnie approached and brought up that tournament from several years prior. He told me that the same moment when I won that one match was one of his favorite coaching moments ever. Hearing this, after thinking no one else remembered the moment, made me realize how much the coaches actually care. It has truly left an enormous impact on me.

Although every coach at Elite is amazing, no one compares to Coach Steve. A great mix between coach, mentor, and friend. Although I was never the best, he constantly supported me. He truly cares about all of the wrestlers in the room. If he sees someone struggling, he takes the time to make sure they get the move down. I knew that anytime I talked to him, he would help with anything I needed. Throughout the time I spent wrestling, he was always an inspiration to me.

As I reflect on the past 6 years of going to Elite, I realized how much it shaped me into a better person. All of the life lessons gained will stick with me for the rest of my life. Some of the moments that happened while wrestling in an Elite singlet will also stay with me. I thank every person that is associated with Elite for helping me along my journey. Although I will most likely never wrestle a match again, it was one of the best experiences of my life and I am truly grateful that I was able to wrestle. To say I miss wrestling feels a little bit weird considering it is tremendously hard work, but now that I’m sitting at the end of my career, all I want is one more day in the barn.

2023 Elite for Life Student/Athlete Showcase

Anthony  Lawrence
Christian Brothers Academy / East Stroudsburg University

I’ve been in sports my whole life, some turn sports into a lifestyle and some do it for the fun, the routine, and the simplicity of staying active. I chose to turn wrestling into a lifestyle. Since I was a young kid I have wrestled for Elite Wrestling Club. I had bounced around here and there but mostly was at elite because it had something special to it. It felt different from any other wrestling practice. There were great partners, amazing coaches, and we’ll run practice by each coach on different days of the week. It felt like I belonged there once I would step foot in the room. It was more than wrestling there, everything was a mindset and the coaches pushed us knowing it would break some of us, but in the long run that’s what we needed.

  I know sticking with Elite wrestling and believing in the process and coaches was the best decision for me and I’ll tell you why. Elite Wrestling formed me into something different. It has shaped me in so many different ways. Most of us know the sport isn’t easy, it can be both mentally and physically rough on an individual but that’s what this sport does to make you stronger. The Coaches were there for us in every aspect of the sport, if we needed to lose weight they were there, if we needed mental strength, someone to talk to, they were always there for us, making us better at wrestling and shaping us into grown men and women.  All the practices in the heat just non stop flowing were the ones that made you stronger, and the Coaches were wrestling and suffering with us which shows their love and compassion towards all of us. It made me realize nothing is ever going to be easy and there is no easy way out. Elite wrestling teaches you many things about the real world that will carry on in real life situations.

Furthermore, I could sit here and talk to you about all of the accomplishments I made during my wrestling career but instead I want to tell you how wrestling made me who I am today. Wrestling to start is not an easy sport, all of the countless hours on the mat could sometimes be mentally draining.What I did outside of elite practice to help keep myself on course during the entire season would be lifting or running. It helped keep my head straight, helped me push through the hard times. Helped when I would get extremely tired but able to push till the end, and that is what I really love about the sport. Wrestling at elite is a mental game so if you’re stuck in your head things are gonna be hard, that’s why being okay with being uncomfortable is very important. Elite Wrestling has made me change the way I think in numerous ways. Whenever I start to freak out about anything I sit back, relate to the situation and figure out a way to work around that problem. Dealing with things head on is what the coaches preach because nothing is easy and trying to take the easy way out will only make it worse.

            To finalize one thing before I end this essay, all the coaches at Elite are there for us, to push us, get us better, teach us wrestling, and support us through our journey’s. Coach Steve is the leader of all the amazing coaches. There is no one like Coach Steve, his mindset and the way he thinks makes you want to change your ways and motivates you. His love and care for each wrestler at his club is unbelievable. He is always there for you and is an amazing mentor in wrestling and in real life. To say the least he has been the core upbringing of my wrestling career and I wouldn’t be where I am without him or any other Coaches at Elite. Coach Dellefave has been like a brother to me and pushes me like no other. He guides me and the other wrestlers only in the right direction. He is very loving and direct and has a way of putting things in perspective. Delle was always there for me doing privates after practice and making sure I put in the extra work for myself to improve overall as an athlete and a man. He has been there for me every step of the way and will forever be in my corner and I couldn’t thank him enough for everything he’s done to support my success. Last Coach Hrymack has been my backbone, and my guy, and teaches me everything about life and wrestling. Hayden was always there for me in my lows and highs. We connected in a different way and he has made me the wrestler I am today just as much as all the coaches. He teaches me life lessons and makes me push myself to the limit as always, I can’t put it in words to describe how I’ve been blessed with these coaches. Thank you to all the coaches that helped me get better at Elite from the bottom of my heart.

In conclusion wrestling isn’t just a sport in my eyes, it is a lifestyle. I have dedicated the past twelve years to becoming a strong man mentally and physically and couldn’t be more proud of myself for it. I have made many accomplishments within myself because of the support and guidance from the coaches at Elite. They taught me life lessons such as being a part of a team, holding myself accountable, listening to my coaches and teammates around me who want me to succeed, winning isn’t always guaranteed, you have to work for it, time management and showing up for yourself and the sport. Those are just some of the basics I’ve picked up from wrestling and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. I love this grind and lifestyle and I’m excited to see what the future has in store for me in life and this sport. Thank you to my village, Elite Wrestling.