Adam Mongelli was a South River wrestling star who was called home by The Coach after just twenty-one years of service. He gave Adam considerable wrestling talent for a reason: to capture our attention, which he most certainly did. But it was the other aspects of the way Adam led his life that The Coach wanted us to notice—and we did.
We couldn’t help but see what his HS coach did—that Adam was a blue-collar, brown bag lunch type of wrestler who worked for every success that came his way. “He never complained. He always shut his mouth and did what he had to do. He worked so hard for (success), and that’s what he wanted,’’ said Bobby Young.
We also noticed what former Sayreville coach John Denuto emphasized: “He is someone we need more of in the sport today. He never bragged and celebrated when he won and never acted poorly when he lost. He was a gentleman at all times off the mat and respectful to everyone. He is a role model that young wrestlers should try to emulate … and one of the finest young men to grace our sport.”
That was one of the messages The Coach intended when he sent Adam Mongelli to us. From the years our paths crossed in rec wrestling to his days of wrestling glory in HS, Adam Mongelli was humble, respectful and hard-working—the type of kid most parents want their own to be. That kind of behavior usually doesn’t happen without the input of a loving, caring family; and the Mongellis can take some solace in the fact that they helped carry out The Coach’s plan, too, by raising Adam the way they did.
I don’t usually choke up at wakes if the deceased is not closely related to me. So how to explain my tears at Adam’s wake yesterday? Was it the hundreds of wrestling and family pictures, so similar to my own, that began the flow of tears? Was it hearing his bereaved mom share the inconsolable pain she was feeling by his loss—a pain that every parent fears with the death of a child? Was it seeing the unchecked tears of former warriors, especially those over thirty, who know the connections wrestlers have with each other and each other’s families? Was it seeing this fine young warrior and gentlemen laid out in his wrestling sweats, with his headgear and shoes in the casket?
It was, in fact, all of these. And that’s why I lost it. Because Adam was related to me and every other person involved with wrestling in that long line of respect-payers. He was my kid, too. Just as he was every coach’s kid and every wrestling mother’s kid.
Because the wrestling family has a bond forged like no other. As Adam’s dad Charlie put it: “Anybody who has a kid who doesn’t wrestle doesn’t know a thing about what wrestling is about.’’
But those of us in the wrestling family know, Charlie. As you grieve, know that we grieve with you, and, like you, we will grieve Adam’s loss forever. But also know that your brothers and sisters in the Wrestling Family are proud of this young man you raised and gave us, because if he inspires another five-year old to emulate his example, The Coach will once again have made his point.
The Coach, after all, recruits only the best for His Team.
Rest in Peace, Warrior.