BTS Philly Podcast: James Mangan, Executive Director


Available On:
Spotify | Google | Apple


“What gets me out of bed every day is knowing that we’re putting smiles on kids’ faces.”


In this episode of the podcast, we speak with James Mangan, the Executive Director of Beat the Streets Philadelphia.

James comes with a depth of experience from all levels of the organization. He grew up in Philadelphia and began wrestling at 10 years old. “The first day I showed up, I realized that there was something different about this, there was something unique, there was something special.”

James looks back on his early years on the mats and the mentors who helped him achieve his goals. “They had this unique ability to teach lessons on a wrestling mat. You didn’t realize you were learning life lessons as a little kid.”

James never forgot about those mentors who helped him, so when he graduated, he dedicated himself to giving back to the next generation of Philadelphia wrestlers by becoming a volunteer coach.

Mentors don’t just help you on the wrestling mat though, James explains. “It’s one thing to learn how to wrestle and be tough and be resilient. It’s another thing to leverage that to achieve your goals off the mat. Mentorship is the only way we can possibly do that with an individual focus.”

James gives much credit to the partnerships Beat the Streets has with the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University wrestling teams as well as the Olympic level Regional Training Center, which provide a pipeline of mentors to work with the student-athletes. 

One of the things that James is most proud of is that Beat the Streets is able to unite the youth from so many diverse parts of Philadelphia. “Even though now we have 29 different programs,” James says, “it still feels like one team, one community.”

This sense of community doesn’t stop at the local level either. The support from Beat the Streets National is invaluable, according to James. “Having that ability to reach out to a peer in Los Angeles or Chicago or New York City, and partner with them on initiatives to better serve our youth is extremely incredible.”

How does James define success at Beat the Streets Philadelphia?

“If I leave a practice and the kid is smiling, I know we did right. If I leave a mentoring session and the kid is smiling, I know we did right. It may sound corny, but what gets me out of bed every day is knowing that we’re putting smiles on kids’ faces and making a difference in their lives.”


A special thanks to Gear2Compete for supporting this episode and for helping us share inspirational stories from the Beat the Streets community.

If you are inspired by these stories and would like to help Beat the Streets provide opportunities for more student-athletes, please consider supporting our mission by visiting our donation page or by sharing these stories with friends and family.

BTSP Podcast Episode 1: Edwin Morales, “Beat the Streets is like a safe haven.”

Available On:
Spotify | Google | Apple

Edwin’s Story

In this episode of the podcast, Beat the Streets alumnus Edwin Morales shares his passion for wrestling, community, and hard work. Edwin is so full of enthusiasm that he uplifts those around him and inspires them to become better people.

Edwin currently wrestles at Bridgewater State University and is studying Criminal Justice. He is a captain on the team and was named a Division III All-American this year. He never stops to rest and he continues to work towards his goal of becoming a national champion.

Edwin discovered wrestling through his brother in 9th grade and his life was never the same. “My grades weren’t that good,” he says. “But then I got involved with Beat the Streets and I fell in love with wrestling. And if I wanted to keep wrestling, I had to keep good grades.” Beat the Streets provided Edwin with a strong community and mentors who supported his continued growth.

He was always at the Beat the Streets mentoring center, even after a long day of school and practice, because the community was so important to him. “It was a second home,” Edwin explains, “a second family that I was able to create with Beat the Streets.” Edwin explains that even after everyone finished their schoolwork, they would stick around to play games with each other. “Beat the Streets is like a safe haven.”

Edwin credits wrestling with keeping him motivated when he had hard times. “Wrestling is like life: there are some points in life where you’re going to feel low, but then there are going to be points when you’re going to feel great. There’s times when I felt unstoppable, but got beat up a little bit. But then I kept going. I kept pushing. And then I am where I am today.”

He believes so strongly in the mission, that he dedicates much of his time to mentoring younger student athletes. “It’s so much joy seeing these kids the first day they come in and then seeing them the last day, when they’re going to college and they’re going to start life. And they’re full young adults ready to tackle anything that’s given to them because they put in the work and they want to change.”

We know that he will continue to accomplish great things both on and off the mat while inspiring those around him.


A special thanks to O3 World for supporting this episode and for helping us share inspirational stories from the Beat the Streets community.

If you are inspired by Edwin’s journey and would like to help young student-athletes like him, please consider supporting our mission by visiting our donation page or by sharing these stories with friends and family.