Foran coach Dave Esposito doesn't agree with wrestling decision

Foran wrestling coach Dave Esposito has guided his team to a pair of Class M titles and four runner-up finishes in his six seasons.

Foran wrestling coach Dave Esposito has guided his team to a pair of Class M titles and four runner-up finishes in his six seasons.

David G. Whitham / For Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD - Foran wrestling coach Dave Esposito said he had to reach deep to find the words to send his kids off after confirming to them that the CIAC had determined there would not be a wrestling season this winter.

He said to them: “You guys are wrestlers. To me the least important part of being a wrestler is the wrestling. It is the discipline, the dealing with adversity. You guys are wrestlers so don’t stop being wrestlers. Stay disciplined in everything you do in these hard times. Stay focused make the best of it, make good decisions, and hope that when you get your chance again to take the mat you will be ready. That’s all I could tell them.”

Esposito took over in 2015 and has led his Lions to a pair of Class M titles (2016, 2018). They were runners-up the other four seasons.

“I asked the players to write down on paper how they were feeling at that meeting,” said Esposito, who is assisted by Noel Luth. “They are all significantly affected by this. Once they did that, I told them they could do whatever they wanted with it. Some of them burned it some of them showed it to their parents but I think it was very cathartic for them to get down on paper how they were feeling. I told them they would get through this thing. I’m there for them to talk at any time.”

Foran had five seniors coming back, including Ethan Edmondson a fourth-place state finisher at 152 pounds.

“Ethan had a chance to be state champion,” Esposito said. “Yes, our seniors missed that last chance, but to be honest I’m happy for them because they have had the experience. Ethan will wrestle next year in college (undecided).”

Whether Foran would continue its run will be an unknown for 2021, but Esposito stated he is more concerned about the long-term impact on his wrestlers.

“I feel bad for kids that are on the edge, kids that use wrestling to improve themselves,” he said. “It’s not my good kids (veterans) I worry about it the other kids. The good kids have learned through the sport how to deal with things. it’s the younger kids that haven’t yet that are missing that opportunity that I really feel bad for.”

Esposito believes that keeping a team together is important for the social and emotional attachment the sport provides as much for the competition.

“I am a cardiothoracic surgeon. I have said time and time again that I would not be where I am today if I had not played athletics,’ said Esposito, who wrestled and played baseball at Foran before graduating from Yale University and Duke University’s Medical School. “What this decision is doing is depriving students of being with their friends, their teammates, their coaches, their mentors. They are depriving them of them of the ability to stay physically fit, to challenge themselves, to work hard, and yes to compete.

“They are depriving them of the ability to fail and to see what it’s like to persevere and pick yourself up and then try to succeed. These are life lessons that cannot be given back, and these are life lessons that mold young men and women into successful adults.”

Esposito doesn’t think it had to come down to this.

“At every turn, the kids are asked to carry the heavy load,” he said. “The infinitesimal risk to high school students from this virus is far outweighed by the documented and real risk of mental and physical harm created by the policies that are currently in place

“It was frustrating as a coach because there was no real give and take making your case. For me, as a scientist I make decisions on data and fact. I don’t see how these decisions are being made on data and fact. It is very frustrating.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354