Ken DeStefanis has spent much of life around the wrestling mat.
He wrestled as a youngster, at Locust Valley High on Long Island and in college. He coached at the elementary school level, in junior high and high school. He was a successful coach at the collegiate level at Central Connecticut State.
He ran the Competitive Edge wrestling camps and clinics for a more than a quarter century (27 years). Talented wrestlers and coaches would meet with the campers for two-hour sessions.
“I used to think that I hope they remember a bit of what they are hearing,” DeStefanis said. “What if we put this into writing … for motivation and inspiration to refer to at any time.”
DeStefanis secured submissions from more than 100 participants in the wrestling world, including Hall of Fame coach Dan Gable, for his new book Advice from Champions that was released in late October.
The book includes a number of submissions from Connecticut coaches and officials, including some submissions from members of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Each participant was asked to for advice they would share with aspiring and current wrestlers. The 256-page book includes submission from men and women in the wrestling community from 31 states.
“It’s been pretty exciting,” said DeStefanis, who was inducted in the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2013. “I thought we had something special. With each individual piece for Advice from Champions that came in, each one was better than the previous one.”
One hundred percent of the proceeds from the book will be donated to non-profit wrestling organizations, including the Dan Gable Museum and the National Wrestling Hall of fame.
“It is our way of giving back,” DeStefanis said. He had donated books to local wrestling clubs to sell as fundraisers.
“A lot of the stories and advice will resonate with different people,” he said.
One coach ordered a group of books for his team, DeStefanis said. The coach said he was going to make the book mandatory reading on the bus on road matches. A vast majority of the submissions are quick reads of two pages or less.
Dan Gable, the legendary Olympian and head coach at the University of Iowa, wrote an introductory essay. “Wrestling is tough. But smartness counts. Great advice here from over 100 coaches and champions,” Gable said of the book.
Paul Widerman, an Olympic team alternate (1984) and a captain of the wrestling team when he was at Harvard, helped DeStefanis put this book together.
“Read every essay,” Widerman wrote in his submission. “And look for the kernels of wisdom and inspiration resonating most to you. As your life goes on, this book may serve differently at different times. It is chock full of great wisdom and golden nuggets from an array of people who have truly paid the price for their accolades, achievements, wisdom and knowledge.”
You can get a copy of the book online at https://advicefromchampions.com/