UIF x 4

Again – Chapter 29 – JohnA Passaro

Teamwork makes the dream work.

To be undefeated in February.

It is what every high school wrestler dreams of.

February, in wrestling, is the post season.

The only season.

The season where big wins get amplified and stay with you for life, or one loss sends a wrestler’s head into chaos from which he may never recover.

To run the table.

To win Leagues, Sections and the State Tournament.

All in February.

12 matches in succession.

Without defeat.

It is the driving force behind a year’s worth of grueling practices, behind all the unreasonable sacrifices that have to be made, behind the loneliness and solitude, behind what makes a champion.

12 matches.

To a State Championship.

A State Championship cannot be accomplished without two vital ingredients – a great coach and a great workout partner.

A great coach is necessary to teach technique, to motivate, to inspire, to help you believe what they see, what they know, of what you are capable of becoming.

A great coach is there in the basement training with you, next to you, pushing you, squeezing more out of you, even after you feel you have reached your maximum.

A great coach is also there off the mats when you need a friend when wrestling needs to become the distraction to life.

A great coach knows when to coddle you and when to come down on you.

A great coach is only half of the equation.

Wrestling is not like basketball, where you can practice shooting on your own.

In wrestling, you need a workout partner.

A partner who is your weight.

A partner who has the same goals as you.

A partner who is seeking the exact same thing you are seeking.

A partner who is unselfish, who sincerely wants to help you become better, a partner who knows when to take it to you, and knows how to get you through a weight cut.

But the problem arises when one realizes that if I am making my partner better, and he is the same weight and going after the exact same goal as I am then how is this helping me?

Aren’t I just making my future opponent better able to beat me?

That is where most people fork left when they should fork right.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled,

And that has made all the difference.

To achieve what few are able to achieve, you must do what few are willing to do.


Undefeated in February X 4.

It started out with some sound advice and a change of philosophy.

“Why don’t you two work out together and make each other better?” Mike Patrovich asked Nick Piccininni and Travis one day.

Iron sharpens Iron.

“There is such an advantage of training with the best wrestler at your weight. They know how to react, to train, to push.”


And so it started.

Cooperation instead of competition.

I remember the exact day, more than four years ago, when Mike Patrovich convinced Nicky and Travis Passaro to train together.

They were the same weight.

And wanted the same prize.

Mike convinced them that they both could achieve it if they just helped each other get it.

“Champions are made in pairs.”

“Cooperation instead of competition.”

Two years later, Chris Mauriello and Jimmy Leach joined the partnership, and UIFx4 was started.

To have all 4 wrestlers go Undefeated in February.

To win 4 State Championships.

That was the goal.

That was something to train for, to dedicate your life to.

That was something that was bigger and meant more than any obstacle.

That was something great to be part of.

Together all four wrestlers pushed each other to newer highs.

Iron sharpens Iron, which sharpens iron, which sharpens iron.

In 2013 all four wrestlers set out to be “Undefeated in February.”

All four wrestlers made the Section XI Finals.

Two of the four would win the Section XI Championship, and two would place second.

In 2013, UIFx4 was not be meant to be.

In 2013, Nicky Piccininni would be the sole New York State Champion from the partnership.

Travis would Place 3rd in the New York State Tournament, Chris would qualify for the State Tournament and Jimmy would be heartbroken when told that he did not get a wildcard and would not be able to wrestle in the State Tournament.

February 16th, 2014

Another whole year of training pursued.

In 2014, 32 matches into the process, UIFx4 is still alive.

Nicky, Travis, Chris, and Jimmy each became Section XI Champions tonight.

32 matches down, 16 more to go.

4 each.

To a New York State Championship, and completion of the mission.


“Why don’t you train with each other? You can make each other better.”

The best advice they ever received.

I guess that is why great coaches are considered great coaches.

They teach you to fork right when everyone else is forking left.

And that has made all of the difference.

Read the next chapter – From The Podium to the 15th Floor

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