Boston Latin Academy vs. Boston Latin School Dual Meet

By Jeanette Smith

Boston | May 23, 2021- Just as monumental as the first World Greco-Roman Wrestling Championship organized on May 23, 1904– over 100 years later, our long standing student-athlete and three-year Coach in Training (CIT) Malcolm Crispin and Boston Co-founder, José Valenzuela, celebrate a local wrestling event that will mark history in two important ways–Massachusetts sanctions in-person activities and two budding varsity teams wrestle for the first time, ever! 

It all ended with Boston Latin School (BLS) securing a strong victory over Boston Latin Academy (BLA), measured in mere minutes. However, the story behind this amazing face-off only culminated after five years of determination, dedication, and resolve to put high school wrestling on the map in Boston. Fun Fact–Boston Latin School is the oldest public school in America!

5 years ago, Coach Hodjat, a Mathematics teacher from John B. O’Bryant reached out to Boston Youth Wrestling now known as Beat the Streets New England (BTSNE) to create a Boston United Club. Wrestling, a central part of Coach Hodjat’s life, introduced the sport to his family offspring, both of whom are CIT alumni through BTSNE, Boston. 

Malcolm Crispin (BLA Class of ‘22) is a 2020 alumnus from Boston Youth Wrestling’s Coaches in Training Program-designed for graduating 8th through 12th grade student-athletes to level up on coaching skills resulting in a highly competitive candidate in the athletic workforce. He is a varsity starter for Josiah Quincy Upper School. Over his high school wrestling career, he has set records as the first sectional finalist in history, taking 2nd at the MIAA Division 3 Central Championships, the first all-state qualifier for BLA and more! 

Malcolm shares his feelings about participating in this historic event as a captain for the Boston Latin Academy Wrestling Program just at the cusp of lifting Covid restrictions, “It means a lot to set an example to the school and show the school that we can survive and be the start of something that continues moving forward. It means a lot to be a leader in such an important time, especially during the pandemic with kids being in different situations and leading kids during such a difficult time.”

Malcolm Crispin, 2020 Boston Coach in Training Profile Photo

Malcolm Crispin, 2020 Boston Coach in Training Profile Photo

Aside from co-founding the flagship regional wrestling-based youth development entity, Beat the Streets New England, José Valenzuela is the Varsity Head Coach and currently teaches history at Boston Latin Academy. He coaches alongside Nikan Hodjat, Assistant Coach who currently teaches mathematics at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science. 

Coach Valenzuela reacted with pure emotion to the timeliness of this event by writing, “After 5 years of hard work and advocacy, I finally got to coach in the first ever varsity match for Boston Latin Academy in school history!”

Those five years, which Coach Valenzuela highlights, organically grew from a simple connection between two avid wrestlers now coaches and teachers who wanted to share the dream with their students from John B. O’Bryant (Coach Hodjat), Boston Latin Academy (Coach Valenzuela), and any Boston Public School student without access to the sport. 

14 High School senior rookies signed up to practice in the only school space available to start-up sport teams, the school basement, and they showed up consistently for three consecutive months in order to compete in their first tournament. Sponsoring the scheduling, travel and competitions, BTSNE nurtured the program, which jumped to scheduling 13 competitions in year two.

Fast-forwarding to 2020, the year of the pandemic, Boston United Club transformed into an official varsity wrestling team. “Anytime we can get a varsity

[wrestling] team in Boston it is a tiny miracle. It’s great to be able to overcome that barrier. We started 5 years ago and so the juniors on this team were the ones who were promised that this would be a varsity program and it feels great that we can follow through on that promise,” says Coach Valenzuela about the collaborative achievement.

Fellow BLA teammate, Michael Tavares, on left.

Fellow BLA teammate, Michael Tavares, on left.

Malcolm started wrestling in 7th grade and immediately joined the CIT program in the same year. As of 2020, he’s a four-year and longest-running CIT participant. Fellow BLA teammates, Michael Tavares, Tommy Chen, and Robert Wingert also happen to wrestle with Captain Malcolm as CIT peers where they bond with student-athletes throughout the Boston school system, including students at their competitor schools, like Boston Latin School and Cambridge. Fellow CIT alumnae, Eliza Weinberger, represented one of Cambridge’s team wrestlers during the first-ever home wrestling meet in school history for Boston Latin Academy on Friday, June 11th. 

Group photo of Boston Latin Academy team with Head Coach Valenzuela. Captain Malcolm Crispin is in the front center.

Group photo of Boston Latin Academy team with Head Coach Valenzuela. Captain Malcolm Crispin is in the front center.

“He has matured a lot,” Coach Valenzuela reflects on Malcolm’s journey through BTSNE programming. “He always has had the talent and skill, but his mental toughness and ability to overcome challenges and grow and learn are some of his strongest traits now. You can see the growth he’s made from our program and specifically Coaches in Training (CIT). He is the type of kid we picture being a CIT.”

Learn more about Boston Latin Academy and Boston Latin School as well as other features on this event by clicking the links below.

Featured-Boston Globe Article

Boston Latin School News-Coach Gibbons

Boston Latin Academy Wrestling Program