A high school career in wrestling, started while at the threshold of joining William Lyon Mackenzie’s student body, has made all the difference for Anthony Nesci.
As the 18-year-old transitions into university he shares a few moments of lessons learned while under the tutelage of coach Mark O’Brien.
“He is honestly, I can’t explain it, he is one of the greatest mentors I’ve been able to study under and to talk to — he’s an amazing friend,” Nesci said. “He’s just been the greatest influence on my wrestling career.”
For the last two years Nesci has represented his Lyons on the mat as their captain, but for the York University-bound grad, leading his troupe wasn’t always something he was comfortable with.
“It was very awkward because I hadn’t been the captain of any team,” he said. “I didn’t feel at the beginning I was the right person to be a captain.
“I didn’t feel like I had that look to myself or anything like that.”
But as the year progressed he handled each obstacle with more finesse, taking what he learned from O’Brien and former captains like Feodor Snagovsky.
And Snagovsky also helped Nesci deal with his toughest task in the sport of wrestling: weight-cutting.
In grade 9, Nesci had to drop from 61.8 kilos to 61.
“I ended up gaining over one full weight class, which is four kilos,” he recalled. “I was like, ‘Oh crap, I have get down to that weight class I was (at) before’.
“So I just started cutting the weight the day before, which is the worst time to cut,” he added. “People said I looked pale, I was barely able to walk. I was just sick because of this weight-cutting.”
Nesci recalled Snagovsky coming into the changeroom and asking him if he was alright and if he planned to partake in his bouts.
“I said, ‘I don’t think I should’, and he said ‘You’re right’,” Nesci said. “Then he got me some water, took me out of the changeroom when I was able to.
“He helped me a lot.”
As for the next captain of the wrestling team, David Nisenbaum, Nesci is fully supportive.
“I’ve known him for years because he also went to Dublin Heights and he got into it at the same time as me,” he said. “I know I can trust the team with him being the captain.”
Philip Le, Andres Chicas and Genie Gokhman will contribute to a bright future for the Lyons, Nesci added.
As for O’Brien, he said losing Nesci leaves a void.
“He’s a major loss to the program but we wish him well,” he said. “And he’s been working with people, mentoring them as they come up.
“We’ll have somebody, not to replace him exactly but to try to take on a similar function.”
Even though he’s studying humanities at York, and planning to try out for the Lions new wrestling team announced in 2010, Nesci isn’t going to be that easy get rid of.
“I’ve also planned my schedule around helping out the Mackenzie wrestling team,” he said.