Our Founder's Story
As a young boy of color growing up in Boston, wrestling helped founder José Valenzuela navigate one of the most critical transitions of his life: middle school. He had low self-esteem, he was angry, and he was on the wrong path: underachieving in school with too many D's and F's on his report card and multiple discipline referrals to his name. Wrestling provided him with an outlet. Like many of the students he works with today as an educator and coach in the Boston Public Schools (BPS), he learned to wrestle with his circumstances. He became confident in himself, and his coaches and teammates mentored him to strive for greater goals on and off the mat. After finishing his wrestling career at Williams College (MA), he returned to Boston to begin a career teaching history in the BPS, He founded TechBoston Academy’s first wrestling program in 2009. The first middle school wrestlers of the program are now freshmen in college, and they have all made great strides to develop their path to a successful life in college and beyond. This impact inspired José to found Boston Youth Wrestling.
Theory of Change
Using wrestling as a tool and motivator, BYW teaches youth to successfully overcome socio-economic challenges that lead to educational gaps, poor health and negative community relationships, imparting skills such as self reliance, discipline and commitment to others that apply both on and off the mat, in school and beyond.
Our coaches are trained to work with marginalized students and build their character and self-esteem, and to build healthy relationships with adults and peers.
Our academic coaches support our students with important study skills in order to empower students to navigate middle school on their way to high school success.
Our wrestling curriculum is designed to develop student-athletes into strong and healthy individuals.
As the Founder and President of Boston Youth Wrestling, José maintains and executes the vision and mission for BYW. He is a 10-year veteran teacher of the Boston Public Schools. He currently teaches and coaches at Latin Academy in Roxbury. In 2016, José earned his certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice at Tufts University. José is a dedicated member and advocate in the community, and has served on advisory committees for the Boston Foundation, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s transition team. José has been a speaker for various events, including testifying on education policy at the United States Senate in 2010.
As Program Director, Bior is in charge of all programmatic operations for BYW including oversight of our coaches, coaches-in-training, and curriculum. Bior wrestled for one of the first collegiate women's teams at Menlo College (CA) and is passionate about youth development. In December 2018 Bior was named a 2019 Social Innovator from the Social Innovation Forum, and for 2019-2020 will be the Lead Innovator for BYW. Bior is currently completing her certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership through the Institute for Nonprofit Practice at Tufts University. She serves as President of the Massachusetts Wrestling Association, and is a board member for the Greater Boston chapter of the Wrestlers In Business Network.
A founding board member of BYW, Matt is a Senior Municipal Bond Credit Analyst for Columbia Threadneedle Investments. Matt acts as Treasurer for the Board. A native of Long Island, NY, Matt was a four-year varsity letterman at Williams College (MA).
A board member since 2014, Phil is the Principal Owner of the Filmark Hospitality Group, which operates Boston-area restaurants including Ducali Pizzeria and Cunard Tavern. Phil was a four-year varsity letterman at Boston College.
A board member since 2018, Korinne is currently retired and a recent graduate of the Northeastern University Nonprofit Management and Leadership program. Korinne has extensive experience in grant-writing and involvement in the community. Korinne is a parent of a former wrestler.
A founding board member of BYW, Nic is a Social Enterprise Consultant for The ICA Group. Nic acts as Secretary for the Board. A native of Connecticut, Nic was a conference place-winner for Williams College (MA) and still regularly trains in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
A board member since 2017, Gary is retired, but was formerly the President of Trade and Reference Group for Houghton Mifflin. Gary is the parent of former wrestlers and was the founder and long-time coach of Sudbury Youth Wrestling.
A board member since 2018, Vincent is a Financial Advisor for Northwestern Mutual. Vincent was a four-year varsity letterman at Johns Hopkins University. In addition to his duties with BYW, Vincent is also a dedicated board member for the Boston chapter of the Wrestlers In Business Network.
A founding board member of BYW, Lars is Assistant Marketing Director for Navitas at UMass-Lowell. A native of Albany, NY, Lars was a conference place-winner for Williams College (MA) and is responsible for much of the social media outreach for BYW.
A board member since 2018, Nick is Director of Corporate and Business Development at Fleetmatics. Nick was a four-year varsity letterman at Brown University, and was a volunteer for Beat the Streets Providence.
As Director of Girls Development, Jacque empower girls through the sport of wrestling in Boston and Providence. Jacque was an All-American at Menlo College (CA) and was formerly the Girls Development Director at Beat the Streets New York.
As an Up2Us Coach, Anthony works with several program sites. Anthony is a BYW alum (O'Bryant High School) and a graduate of the Coaches In Training program. Anthony completed the Northeastern Foundation Year program, and will attend UMass-Boston in the fall.
As the Ambassador of Mentoring (AoM) funded by Mass Mentoring and Highland Street Foundation, Ryan is responsible for mentor and mentee training, program development, and mentor recruitment and marketing
As an Up2Us Coach, Keith works with several program sites across the city. Keith is in his second year as a coach with BYW. Keith wrestled at Lexington High School and will continue his education at UMass-Boston in the fall.
As an Up2Us Operation Coach, Melissa works with several program sites. Melissa is also a Program Manager for MENTOR: The National Mentorship Partnership. In her capacity at BYW, she has also been critical to supporting the Program Director on expanding mentorship opportunities.
As an Up2Us Coach, Tim works with several program sites. Tim is a BYW alum (TechBoston Academy) and a graduate of the Coaches In Training program. Tim currently attends Bunker Hill Community College.
As an Up2Us Coach, Joshua works with several program sites. Joshua is a BYW alum (Boston Latin) and a graduate of the Coaches In Training program. He is in his second year as an Up2Us Coach and he currently attends UMass-Boston.
As an Up2Us Operation Coach, Zach works with several program sites. Prior to joining BYW, Zach completed his studies in recreational management and policy at the University of New Hampshire and from 2011-13 was an infantryman for the United States Army.
Each summer, BYW hires 5-8 youth to work as Coaches In Training (CITs) to develop their leadership and mentorship skills. This program is currently funded with generous support from the Boston Centers For Youth & Families. Click the button above to meet the 2018 CITs.