Brendan Buckley

At the 1995 NCAA Championships in Iowa City, I was a sophomore at Clemson University when the news broke (two hours before the first round began) that the wrestling program at Clemson was being eliminated. Little did I know that five months later, I would be living in Central California and training daily with the NCAA Finalist at my weight class that year (142), Gerry Abas, and that he would become my assistant coach. Fresno State dropping its wrestling program not only impacts me as an alumnus but also as harkens back to the gut punch that Clemson delivered to me and my teammates in 1995. That painful experience as well as the long-term ramifications on college wrestling is why I am so compelled to speak up and do something.

During my first year at Fresno State, I often asked myself if I had made the right decision. My family and friends were 3,000 miles away, I had a rash of injuries for much of the season and I simply wasn’t performing well on the mat. However, as time went on and I felt the support of Fresno State’s Wrestling Community, I began to come into my own. My coaches pushed me and helped me realize what I was capable of while my teammates and I developed a kinship that is still strong today.

As I look in the rear view mirror, I would be naive to think that so many of the gifts I now have in my life would have been possible had Coach Deliddo not given me an opportunity. After graduation, I began a 19 year journey as a college wrestling coach with stops at UC-Davis and the University of Virginia as an assistant coach, then to head coaching positions at Columbia University (where I coached with Yero Washington) and Cal Poly. Along the way, I earned an Ivy League Masters Degree, met some of my best friends, my wife (and mother of our two children) and am now leading a large youth development organization in New York City called, Beat the Streets that enables me to give back to the great sport of wrestling and those that are less fortunate than me.

In summary, without Fresno State Wrestling, I would not be where I am today nor be blessed with the people in my life that are closest to me. These people and these incredible experiences have shaped me in to who I am today.

If you are reading this, please understand that the challenge we face to Keep the Fresno State Wrestling program reinstated is well worth the investment of our time, effort and resources.

-Brendan Buckley ’97

Alfonzo W Tucker, Ed. D

My name is Alfonzo Tucker, and I am a post-doc psychologist in my last year of residency in the field of clinical psychology. I work with forensic populations incarcerated in the California State prison system. This letter is not meant to be taken as a success story, nor a story of resilience and triumph. My hope is that any person who reads this letter sees within themselves the energy that has brought me to my current position in life. The energy that I will attempt to share exists within all breathing creatures. The very first time I felt the sensation of achievement was in the fourth grade. I was standing on what appeared to be a rubber mat, wearing old dirty basketball shoes, with holes in the soles, while watching a referee who had a red band on one wrist and a green band on the other. After winning the wrestling match, he raised my hand to the point of forcing me to balance on my toes, because I weighed less than fifty pounds. The memory of this event was so gratifying, I continue to chase that feeling to this day.

That sense of achievement drowns the fact that I grew up within the foster care system, having never met my biological mother, and having witnessed my biological father use the type of drugs that are inhaled via the use of a glass pipe. Those memories no longer linger within the back of my mind. However, having my hand raised after earning my first win following a wrestling match does.

The following information may seem cliché, as I am a man of color, having lived my youth in poverty, with no understanding of achievement beyond professional sports and entertainment. Meaning, everyone in my neighborhood wanted to become rich from selling crack or shouting rhythmic words over a melodic beat. I could fight, and later learned how to wrestle, but when high school was over it did not matter that I was recruited by many Division I colleges, because I had not yet discovered how to achieve academically. The Fresno Unified school district provided me with opportunity, enough to attend Fresno City college and learn that wrestling technique could be enhanced with education. I turned down several scholarship offers and accepted one to remain in the city of Fresno where my foster family could witness me become an All-American and obtain a bachelor’s degree, providing me with security.

In closing, I can honestly say that every milestone within my life has some correlation to the sport of wrestling and the city of Fresno. The Law of Conservation of Energy states “energy is neither created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transformed or transferred from one form to another.” California State University of Fresno is the energy of the San Joaquin / Central Valley of California. The sport of wrestling offered me the opportunity to discover achievement in life, without such energy, I could not celebrate life. Moreover, how many other opportunities may never be discovered if the wrestling program at Fresno State is not reinstated? I am but one example of such energy that the Fresno State Wrestling program has created. This Valley needs and requires such energy.

-Alfonzo W Tucker, Ed. D

Nick Zinkin

Like so many other athletes, including both my brothers and I, Fresno State provided a great place where we could continue our wrestling careers in College, while living in our home town. Over the past 40 years the Central Valley has had some of the most competitive youth and high school wrestling programs in the Country. Many of those Wrestlers went on to wrestle at Fresno State. Fresno State’s wrestling program has also given countless opportunities to first generation College students, as well as minorities over the years.

-Nick Zinkin

Tim Cornish

Accountability, integrity, discipline and a strong work ethic are all traits that were instilled in me while being a student athlete at Fresno State.

As a project manager of the largest public works construction project in the western United States I’ve used these skills to lead others to construct engineering marvels throughout California.

My name is Tim Cornish and I wrestled for Fresno State from 1997-2000.

The simple fact is I would never be where I am today had it not been for the great sport of wrestling at Fresno State.
Son of a Vietnam veteran and a mother who immigrated to the United States at the age of 18, the thought of attending college was unprecedented at a young age.

In 1996 I moved from upstate New York to Fresno. I instantly found a family and home amongst the Fresno State wrestling community. The deep support that the program had and still has to this day is exceptional. With so many successful local youth and high school wrestling programs it would truly be a travesty for their local university not be able to support and house these outstanding athletes and future leaders.
So many of my teammates come from humble beginnings and are the first from their families to attend college. Becoming coaches, teachers, civil leaders and successful business people all while supporting and giving back to the community that supported them.

As a youth wrestling coach, I see these young students’ eyes light up when I tell them I wrestled in college. They tell me that one day they too dream of wrestling at a university. My response usually is, “Stay focused and work hard and you too can make your dreams come true.”

I’ve also have had the privilege of coaching my two daughters in wrestling. High school girls wrestling has become one of the nation’s fastest growing sports and is currently recognized by the NCAA as an emerging sport. So now they too can envision wrestling in college.

It is with great sadness that Fresno State has made movement to remove their storied wrestling program. When instead Fresno State should be taking great pride while expanding on their long rich history. The grass root sport of wrestling doesn’t need big fields, large arenas, or even deep pockets. It takes a pair of shoes and the heart of a lion.

-Tim Cornish

Eduardo Contreras Jr.

By eliminating wrestling from the Fresno State Sports Program, you are taking away the dreams of countless boys and girls in the Central Valley and throughout the State of California. The dream of becoming a high-school state champion, the dream of being accepted into Fresno State and wrestling off for your spot on the roster, the dream of becoming an all American for Fresno State. The dream of becoming an NCAA Champion at your respective weight class for Fresno State, the dream of becoming an Olympian and winning an Olympic Medal.

Actor, Comedian, Former Wrestler and Wrestling Coach, Jay Mohr stated the following, “Wrestling teaches people about sacrifice, goal-setting, physical fitness, and discipline. Wrestling teaches you to work hard when no one is watching.” These lessons are applicable to the real world. The sport of wrestling helps us get ready for life and how to triumph when the odds are stacked against us. All of my victories in life can be attributed to the lessons I have learned on the mats. All of my failures in life can be attributed to not applying these same lessons.

Along with wrestling being a positive driving force in my life, I have seen wrestling improve the lives of countless people. Whether it is keeping at risk youth off the streets or providing a sense of confidence to someone who was once shy or timed. It is for these reasons that I respectfully ask that you reconsider removing the Wrestling Program from Fresno State Athletics. Thank you for taking the time to read my testimonial.

-Eduardo Contreras Jr., Fresno State Alumnus and Former Wrestler

Allen Richburg, MD, MS, FAAFP

I began wrestling in 1974 when I was 9 years old. I wrestled at Clovis West High School where we won the California State Team Championships and I was a state finalist. I wrestled for Fresno State from 1983 to 1988 where I was a starter on a team that won three conference championships. Individually, I was second three times, won a PAC 10 title, and set a record for the most career wins at that time. However, it was not the 125 wins that defined who I am today, it was the 59 losses. Each loss made me work harder, and this work ethic led to more success on the mat, in the classroom, and in my professional life as a Sports Medicine and Family Medicine Physician. The lessons I learned as a student-athlete at Fresno State and the relationships I made along the way are a huge part of my daily life.

-Allen Richburg, MD, MS, FAAFP
San Diego Sports Medicine and Family Health Center
Director of Athletic Medicine, San Diego State University
Head Physician, U.S. Olympic Training Site, Chula Vista
Assistant Professor, UCSD School of Medicine, Volunteer