BGC youth wins gold and is off to the Pan-American Wrestling Championship

Luke Coffin, pictured here in Grade 7 on the left and now at the age of 16 on the right, won first place in the National Wrestling Trials last month. Image via BGC South East.

Last month, 16-year-old Luke Coffin won first place in the National Wrestling Trials, which were held in Edmonton, on Thursday, May 26, 2022. Born and raised here in Kingston, Coffin competes in the heavyweight category of the Cadet Division. Luke’s National championship will see him represent Canada at the Pan-American Wrestling Championship, to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the end of June.

According to a release from the Boys and Girls Club (BGC), this victory and opportunity are the result of years of hard work and dedication. Coffin’s unsurpassed work ethic and positive attitude shone in his performance last week, and he was the dominant force in the boys 110kg division, defeating athletes from British Columbia and Saskatchewan en route to his 10-0 victory in the final, the organization stated.

“This is so big, it is hard to wrap my head around,” Coffin said. “I wouldn’t be here without the Boys and Girls Club.”

A member of BGC South East (formerly the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston & Area) since the age of four, Coffin has trained wrestling for over six years at the Kingston Wrestling Club.

“BGC has given me the skills to be better at wrestling,” he said. “Because of the staff at the Boys and Girls Club, I became confident to try new sports and to improve my social skills.”

According to the release, BGC also helped to introduce Coffin to Marcus Niemann, Head Coach at the Kingston Wrestling Club, and long-time partner of BGC. The Kingston Wrestling Club has been engaging youth since 1987 and has been enhancing the benefits of the program through a partnership with BGC South East, the organization said.

“Our wrestling program is about developing young people, so it has always been a natural fit with the Boys and Girls Club,” said Niemann. “We use wrestling as a way to develop physical skills and let that guide the way to their social development, and growth as leaders.”

During the pandemic, BGC hosted the Kingston Wrestling Club classes at the Robert Meek facility downtown.

“Keeping our wrestling program going through COVID-19 was critical for the kids,” Niemann continued. “All other locations did not allow visitors, and BGC found a way to host our classes in a safe way that followed all protocols.”

“The results are right here with Luke’s championship,” he added. “If he had stopped training for the last two years, he wouldn’t have been at the level that got him this title.”

With the aim to expand the partnership and benefit more local children and youth, the Kingston Wrestling Club will be moving full-time to the West End Community Centre starting this Fall, BGC shared.

“The work of Marcus and his team is commendable,” said Harold Parsons, Executive Director at BGC South East. “We have seen how much youth grow their physical literacy and social-emotional awareness through this wrestling program. It is a critical program for children and youth seeking healthy outlets, and provides them with access to mentoring from qualified coaches. We will work together to make sure even more children and youth have the opportunity to participate without barriers.”

With an ultimate goal to compete in the Olympics in 2026, the Pan-American Wrestling Championship will be a significant milestone for Coffin.

According to the release, long-time BGC supporters, Pat Murphy and Jeff Hancock of Secura Financial, generously donated to pay for Coffin’s participation in the international wrestling competition through Secura Wish.

“This is a moving story about a talented young man who has continued to thrive at BGC and stayed committed to his athletic ambitions,” said Murphy. “We are pleased to stand with BGC South East in support of his achievements, and help eliminate all barriers to his participation.”

Murphy continued, “We are all incredibly proud of Luke… He will represent our country, our Kingston community, and the Boys and Girls Club at the international competition in Argentina. Luke stands for the resiliency we wish to build in our community, and this is a great success story for all of us that support the Boys and Girls Club!”

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