By Mike Zummo
If you don’t know where you’re going, the Deep Roots Wrestling Club may be hard to find, at first.
Tucked in a back room subletted from Han Ho Martial Arts and Secret Weapon MMA in Walden, wrestlers ranging from elementary school all the way up to high school can be found honing the craft under the watchful eye of the club’s founder and head coach, Ricky Scott.
“Everybody’s here because they want to be here,” Scott said. “When you have wrestling clubs, they want to be here; they want to do it, so the intensity is higher. Their want to be better is definitely higher. They want to achieve things.”
Just a glance around the room during the high school portion of a Thursday practice, there are wrestlers from Cornwall, Washingtonville, Valley Central, Pine Bush, Wallkill and others.
The three state qualifiers from Valley Central – Luke Satriano, Nicholas Weeden and Sebastian Vidacovich – are part of the club, as are Warwick’s Alex Greco, Washingtonville’s Drew Marchese and Minisink Valley’s Andrew Filip.
Other state qualifiers from Division I included Cornwall’s Tyler Reed and Pine Bush’s Brayden Pennell.
Division II Section 9 champions from the club include Highland’s Logan Smith, and Port Jervis’ Ivan Figueroa and Ryan Ross.
“I’m big on, like if our section does well, then the entire area, and every team does better,” Scott said. “You want to make your section the best they can be then you have that kind of wrestler coming out every year. If the talent around them is better, they get better. So, having clubs that combine all these teams and schools really helps.”
It also helps that Scott walked the same path, himself. He was a two-time state champion for Valley Central in 2004 and 2005.
“I’ve been there; I’ve done it,” Scott said. “I’ve always said, you don’t have to be a great wrestler to be a great coach, but it helps. It does help to have the experience to get all these kids to understand where they need to be and what they need to do to get to that next level.”
The younger ones have already started, as the club is coming off one of its most successful tournaments as it placed five male champions and one female champion at the New York Wrestling Association for Youth state championships on March 12-13 at Nassau County Community College.
Mason Bliss won the Division 3 (2014) championship at 83 pounds.
The club placed three champions in Division 4 (2013): Lincoln Brower (53), Sebastian Andidero (56) and Benedetto Annoscia (67).
William Soto won the Division 8 (2009) championship at 81 pounds.
Hudson Judd placed second in Division 4 at 59 pounds and Eric Gomez was 3rd in Division 6 (2011) at 66 pounds.
“We had a great showing at states,” Scott said.
Victoria Soto won the Girls Division 2 (2011-13) at 45-49.
Scott said it’s long past time for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association to officially sanction girls’ wrestling. He said it may bring out more girls who are apprehensive about wrestling with boys.
His 6-year-old daughter wrestles with the club. The club has three or four high school girls.
“If there was a girls’ sport, you’d see girls coming out way more than there is now, which is why it’s long overdue,” Scott said. “All my cousins that were girls wrestled until high school.”
Scott never left wrestling after he graduated from Valley Central High School in 2005. He wrestled Division I at Buffalo State until ruptured discs in his neck ended his mat career. He coached at Lancaster High School in upstate New York and then worked for a company that dealt heavily in wrestling on Long Island. When he moved back to the area, he coached with the Hudson Valley Wrestling Academy in Newburgh.
Two years ago, he struck out on his own, and a group of wrestlers he worked closely with moved with him.
He opened his doors in early March of 2020, two weeks before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut the club down until August, but things picked up from there, and the club continues to go strong. Keeping him busy four or five nights a week.
All that, on top of his day job as a physical therapist assistant keeps him busy five days a week.
“My wife wants to kill me 24/7,” he said with a laugh as high school practice began.