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In this episode of the Beat the Streets Philadelphia Podcast, we get the tremendous opportunity to speak with Joey McKenna, an Olympic level wrestler who serves as a mentor to Beat the Streets student athletes.
Joey competes at the international level where represents the Pennsylvania Regional Training Center. In college, Joey wrestled for Stanford and Ohio State where he was a three-time NCAA All-American and two-time Big Ten champion. At the senior level, Joey boasts a U.S. Open title and he recently finished as runner-up at the Olympic Trials.
Off the mats, Joey serves as a mentor and role model for many youth at Beat the Streets. “It's not something that we have to do, but something that we get to do," says McKenna. "And we can really help shape and change lives. So getting involved in that is super important.”
According to McKenna, the student athletes are not the only ones who benefit from the mentorship program. “They can be role models for me,” he says. “In terms of the way they handle their adversity and the way they're pushing to become better. It's contagious.”
He continues to be inspired by drive and discipline of the student athletes. “The amount of adversity that they have to go through to even show up to practice is incredible.”
According to Joey, wrestling can provide a toolkit for facing that adversity and growing as a person. “Through those experiences we become stronger,” Joey says. “And wrestling has taught me that.”
“Wrestling is helping equip them with the intangibles to continue to face adversity,” Joey says. “At the end of the day, you have to face those things head on to grow and become who you want to be.”
Having the Philadelphia wrestling community behind him means a lot to McKenna. He recently wore a Beat the Streets Philadelphia t-shirt at a major wrestling event and was proud of the response he received from the community.
“I received a text after about how all the Beat the Streets kids were so hyped up. That's encouraging. That's inspiring to me. It makes it easier to go out there and do what I do.”
“I'm out there wearing a Beat the Streets shirt thinking I'm doing a good thing and in representing this organization, but I know that every single kid is right behind me and supporting me wholeheartedly. And it means a lot to see that.”
This episode is brought to you by Blue Chip Athletic who has helped provide athletic apparel for so many of our student athletes. Thank you BlueChip for your support!
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.