EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

January 28, 2013

Seabrook wrestlers bring political fight to the mat

Hoping voters will pay to buy equipment

SEABROOK — There is an old adage that claims politics is an old man’s sport, but that’s not the case for some middle schoolers behind a petition on this year’s Town Meeting Warrant.

The petition — Article 45 — requests $10,000 to purchase a wrestling mat for Seabrook’s Recreation Center in order to establish a youth wrestling program there, and if voters approve in March, it would add a small fraction of a cent to the tax rate.

Although not recommended by the Board of Selectmen, the Budget Committee gave the petition its stamp of approval after the middle school wrestlers behind it testified at the public hearing to fight for their cause in the democratic process.

“They did a good job at the public hearing; I knew they would,” said Seabrook Middle School wrestling coach and school resource officer Jim Deshaies. “If they want something, they know they have to work for it.”

Seventh-grade wrestlers Michael Brown, Dylan Colpits, Michael Dow and Jaden L’Esperance, along with eighth-grade wrestler Billy Menas, started the petition movement, and most showed up at the public hearing. They might not be old enough to vote, but they didn’t let that stop them. The group gathered at least 25 signatures from adult registered voters needed to get the question certified to be on the ballot.

“I think I got 30 people to sign, and the others got some too,” said Michael Dow. “I think it will be good for the younger kids to get involved with wrestling (at the Recreation Center). I know a lot want to.”

According to Billy Menas, his younger brother really wants to follow in his footsteps and learn wrestling, which is a centuries-old Olympic sport, present in the original games when they began in Greece.

“My brother tries to wrestle now with his friends on their own, but they can get hurt that way,” Billy said. “This way, with a program at the Rec Center, they’ll learn the right way and it’s safer for them.”

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