After a 20 year coaching career, highlighted by back-to-back IHSA Team State Championships, former Oak Park River Forest (OPRF) Wrestling Coach Mike Powell, has shifted his sights on new goals. Powell started working with Beat the Streets (BTS) Chicago, a little over three years ago, with a simple goal. “To build a sustainable NFP (non-profit) that provides quality wrestling throughout the city. With the ultimate goal of kids building up themselves and their lives, using the world’s oldest and greatest sport.” BTS Chicago has been steadily growing, and Coach Powell is the driving force behind the organization’s growth.
Powell, currently serves as Executive Director of the Beat the Streets organization, and has made great progress in a short period of time. We asked Coach Powell about his recent transition, “After 20 years of incredibly rewarding HS coaching I was looking for another challenge. When Dan Willis reached out to me, I jumped in with both feet. City wrestling had decayed throughout the years, despite having awesome kids and great coaches, while OPRF had thrived.” We questioned Powell as to why schools like OPRF and Mt. Carmel located in Chicago, have been successful in wrestling, but other Chicago high schools have not? “ A single street divides Oak Park from the west side. The difference was that city resources had been drained, while we enjoyed the spoils of school and community support at OPRF. It was apparent that if our (BTS) team could inject the city with resources that support our kids and coaches, we would see an uptick in success, on and off the mat.” Coach Powell has helped to bring resources back to the inner city high schools, and has a BTS organization that is growing larger each year.
This new facility will allow Beat the Streets to serve its approximate 2,000 members even better, providing countless opportunities for the young student/athletes. Powell discusses the goals of the new facility. “Ultimately, we hope that all of our athletes will grow to become Life Champions. If you are going to help a young woman or man move the needle for themselves, the contact hours have to be ridiculously long and the work has to be incredibly arduous. The facility allows us to build a culture where kids want to buy into something bigger than themselves. When this happens, trust and love can be built. When an athlete trusts and loves her or his coach, the coach can push them past anything they previously believed possible. This is when the needle is moved.” Spending just a few moments with Coach Powell and it is clear that he is motivated to help the inner-city youth.
If you would like to donate, mentor, coach, tutor, or volunteer for Beat the Streets Chicago. Please visit their website www.BTSChicago.org for more information.