“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]

Submit by: August 15th

Elite for Life Trust College Scholarship Recipients

This is our 10th year of giving, 34 recipients and over $18,000 in Scholarship funds


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


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 Essay Candidates

Mandy Gavares – Old Bridge HS
Elite For Life Scholarship
01 June 2023

Impact of Elite Wrestling

            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.

Elite for Life Student/Athlete Showcase 

It is our mission to create opportunity for student/athletes that wrestle. With meaningful conversations and the submission of the 1000+ essay, Gabby Miller, since 8th grader, now graduating High School and moving onto Lock Haven University, makes us proud to do what we do.

Below is her essay. She will be receiving a $500 scholarship towards her college studies. Good Luck Gabby! Gabby finished her high school wrestling career as one of Jersey’s best to do it so far. 3x State Champion, 1x Runner-Up.

Gabrielle Miller – Old Bridge High School

After a rough day at school dealing with endless amounts of drama and note taking, I get into my car and make my way to the barn for practice. Throughout the whole drive I was dreading having to practice, all I wanted to do was go home and throw myself a pity party. When I stepped in the room a weight suddenly lifted off of my shoulders and I could breathe again, all of my friends were there and I couldn’t help but smile. That practice made me forget all about my bad day and put me on cloud nine. Embracing the grind with people I love to be around is the cure for a bad day. The energy in the room and being surrounded by my closest friends, doing the sport I love in a place that feels like home is the best feeling in the world. I’ve been sitting in front of my computer for an hour trying to muster up the words to describe the impact Elite has had on my life and that is the only story that comes to mind.

Walking into the room five years ago I was terrified, I had no idea who anyone was let alone what kind of program I was walking into. Flash forward five years and I have made countless memories and friendships with the athletes and coaches in the barn. Jessi Jonson and I first met when she beat me in the state championships in the sixth grade, because of Elite, I can now call her one of my best friends and will be attending the same college together in the fall. During my sophomore year of high school, I lost in the state finals and I had been in a serious wrestling funk, I didn’t know if I would ever get out of it. The world had also shut down due to the Covid 19 virus, which meant wrestling stopped as well. Over quarantine I decided to ogive up wrestling, for six months I completely stopped training and planned on going back to softball. During this time Steve Rivera and Vinnie Dellefave were constantly there for me. Constantly trying to take me back into wrestling and sometimes just reaching out to ask about my day and how the college search was going. Coaches like Vinnie Dellefave and Hayden Hrymack were there to remind me of my love for the sport and to keep pushing me until eventually I was back to normal. I will be forever grateful for the love and support given to me by this club. This may sound cliché; but Elite is not just a club, it’s a family.

Although this club has given me friendships and memories that will last a life time, there is one person who has impacted me more than the club itself. Steve Rivera. When I first came to Elite, Steve saw the potential in me that other coaches could not. He saw the potential in me that I couldn’t see myself, and I am forever grateful that he did. He took a chance on me and had me write an essay and made me an Elite for Life Wrestler. Steve would take the time to schedule multiple privates with me throughout the week and pay for a weightlifting coach for me just to see me succeed. Through the good times and bad, Steve has always been there for me on and off the mat. At times where wrestling didn’t seem fun anymore and I was ready to throw in the towel, Steve would not give up on me no matter what. I am no officially “Elite Alumni” and Steve still refuses to give up on me. Over the years Steve and I have developed a great relationship, I consider Steve to be a second father to me, and I am so grateful to have Steve in my life. Thank you, Steve, for standing beside me like a rock during moments of adversity. I can never repay you for the amount of faith and support you have given me. No coach will ever compare. Without Steve and the club, I don’t think I would be the woman I am today.

Elite for Life Student/Athlete Showcase

Cole Anderson – Toms River North High School

It is our mission to create opportunity for student/athletes that wrestle. With meaningful conversations and the submission of the 1000+ essay, Cole Anderson, since 8th grader, now graduating High School and moving onto King’s College of Pennsylvania, makes us proud to do what we do. Below is his essay. He will be receiving a $500 scholarship towards her college studies. Good Luck Cole!

Answering the question, “How being involved in Elite Wrestling has changed my life for the better, and the impact the coaches have played in that change,” I can’t help but go back to when I was young and life became a challenge for me before the thought of wrestling even existed in my life. “I’m going away for a while and not sure when I’m coming back,” are not the words you want to hear from your father as a nine year old. Sitting in the still room as the words fell flat on the table, caused me to feel a way I’ve never experienced and unsure how to handle. My father was a manipulative and secretive man, whose lies had finally surfaced and he now had to face the consequences. Although it was my father dealing with the decisions he had made, he was not the only one facing problems. Leaving behind my mom, brothers, and me, caused a ripple of distress through our family and being the oldest, I witnessed more than I cared to. The lack of income forced us to move in with my grandmother for a few years, and it was hard leaving the house I grew up in. I spent years of my childhood feeling angry, lost and trying to figure out who I was while struggling with the burdens that were left from my father. Life moved on and led me down many unexpected paths. One of these paths involved me, my family, and my new stepdad moving to Toms River when I was in seventh grade, once again being uprooted and having to start all over. Walking through daily life and school having no friends, and seemingly having no purpose was dispiriting for me. This all changed when I was introduced to Elite Wrestling and at the time, I had no idea what an impact it would have on my life.

Before I had become a wrestler I was involved in Brazilian jiu jitsu, having done this for a majority of my childhood. This background guided me onto the path of wrestling but looking back I could have never imagined how grueling, hard, and merciless this sport was. It was my stepdad who suggested giving wrestling a try as a way to get involved in a school sport and meet new friends. He found Elite Wrestling in Toms River, a mile away from our house, to prepare me and give me some experience before wrestling season started. I showed up to the first practice with no wrestling shoes and no idea what to expect. I was approached by Frankie, not even
having the slightest idea who he was, but he talked to me as if I belonged there while he was getting me a pair of wrestling shoes to wear for the practice. I remember that night being rough. The room was hot, the intensity was high, and I was so far out of my comfort zone. I hated every second of it, but for some reason I kept telling myself that I had to go back, and I did. I remember feeling accomplished after every hard practice even when I told myself in the beginning that I wasn’t going to make it through. All it took was just a few words from Vinny or Haden telling me I was improving to make me want to come back. This led to me joining the wrestling team at my school and it instantly gave me a place to belong in a town where I felt I didn’t. Having been going to Elite consistently, I easily became one of the better kids on the
team. This only furthered my confidence and led to me making friendships with other kids who have been wrestling way longer than I had. Not only did wrestling fill the void of missing confidence by giving me a reason to be proud of myself but it created lasting friendships and relationships I never thought I could have in a place I originally hated. That angry, lost, and doubtful child I was quickly started to disappear. After wrestling for only one year, I won the Ocean County middle school championship. Coming into my freshman year, I was looked up upon as being a great wrestler by all the other kids and I know I wouldn’t have been able to
accomplish the amount of things I did in such a short amount of time without Elite Wrestling propelling me further in skill. But I soon realized that it’s not just about the success that shapes you, it’s the failures, struggles, and how you handle hardships that give you strength and define the person that you become.

As I grew older I began to enjoy the sport more and more. Through every high and low, Elite Wrestling and the coaches have literally shaped me into the young adult that I am today and I wouldn’t want to be living my life any other way. Each coach is an example and living proof that anything can be accomplished in or outside the sport of wrestling. Being surrounded by champions that were there to help, guide, and befriend me was more than I could’ve asked for from a sport . It changed how I approach life and developed me into the appreciative, confident, determined and hard working person I am today. It has taught me that I am not defined by who
my father was, or where I came from, only I have the power to create my own identity and success. When one door closes, there is always another that will open with so many possibilities. I learned to embrace every challenge, enjoy every accomplishment, accept every hardship and failure as a learning experience and keep moving forward with determination and resilience. If it wasn’t for my unfortunate situation, creating the path my life has traveled, I wouldn’t have become an Elite wrestler and I wouldn’t be who I am today.

As I reflect on my experience, writing this is not just an essay but a thank you to Steve, Vinny, Frankie, Sebastian, Hayden, Mikey and every coach I have had the honor and privilege to learn from. Thank you for inspiring me, for pushing me to limits I didn’t know I had, for telling me things I not always wanted to hear but needed to hear, for believing in me when I doubted myself, for always pushing me to be a better version of myself, and for instilling in me a sport with values that teach life lessons that take most people a lifetime to learn. Without Elite Wrestling, the coaches, the friends I have made and bonds created through sweat, commitment and relentless hard work, I would not be a fraction of who I am today and I will forever be grateful as I continue setting new goals as a college wrestler at King’s College of Pennsylvania and through every aspect of my life.

Elite for Life Student/Athlete Showcase 

Brady Carter – Lacey High School

My wrestling journey began at the age of five, although at that time I wasn’t a fan of competing. After wrestling in my first tournament, I told my parents that I didn’t want to do that anymore. I only wanted to go to practices. I didn’t quit, I just shifted my focus to learning the sport. I never gave up and I worked hard to overcome my fears. Wrestling soon became my passion and it wasn’t long before I was back out there competing in tournaments. Each match gave me the opportunity to learn from my mistakes and fine-tune my skills to better myself. The harder I worked the better I became.

Throughout the years of many obstacles and different wrestling clubs I found a home and in that home I learned the importance of self-discipline and goalsetting, how to overcome obstacles, and how to be mentally tough. I learned to respect my opponent, coaches, and authority figures. Wrestling taught me how to remain humble while celebrating my successes as well as my losses.

A very big Thank you to the ones who supported me all the way and a very big thank you to my coach Steve who’s been there for me the past year I’ve been going to Elite Wrestling the connection we are making is something else and it’s the start to my new wrestling home. The sport has taught me that no matter how many times you get knocked down you always get back up; That success is earned through hard work and determination.

I will apply the tools I learned from Wrestling to my adult life. I will be a productive successful member of society thanks to the lessons I’ve learned on the mat.