Springfield wrestling studio helping area student-athletes succeed on the mat

Springfield wrestling studio helping area student-athletes succeed on the mat
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 11:58 PM EST
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LUDLOW, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - One western Massachusetts school is the home of one of the best young wrestlers in the state.

“I love wrestling because it’s like an alternate superpower that I have,” said Charles Soffen, a student at Baird Middle School in Ludlow.

Charles Soffen’s dad, James, told us he has been wrestling and winning for as long as he can remember.

“He’s won the state title every year except for once since he was in first grade,” James Soffen added.

James told Western Mass News that his confidence and passion for the sport is what has led to his success.

“In fact, this past weekend, he was sleeping on the sideline waiting for his turn…He had no cares in the world,” James Soffen added.

One of the places that has helped Charles, and many other wrestlers in western Massachusetts grow, is the Grit and Gratitude Wrestling Studio in Springfield.

“Our goal is to improve the culture of wrestling throughout western Mass. with a bunch of people in the area,” said studio executive director Darby McLaughlin.

McLaughlin told us in addition to growing the sport in western Massachusetts, it’s also a safe space for young people.

“If the kids are off the streets, then they’re here with us, surrounded by positive role models in mentors,” McLaughlin added.

He said the sport of wrestling builds character.

“Wrestling is a one-on-one sport…and it’s the work ethic that is involved in your dedication to discipline ability to stick it...especially if you have gotten beaten to step on the line again,” McLaughlin explained.

Charles said his plan is to continue wrestling through college and he has one move in particular that will help get him there.

“My favorite move is called a ‘cement mixer’ into a ‘Saturday night ride’…and you wouldn’t know what it was unless you saw it,” Charles Soffen noted.

Regardless of what Charles decides to do, his dad shares this message for him…

“Just keep growing, keep getting better, and you are never as strong as you could be,” Charles Soffen said.