Second Adam Frey Classic to be celebration of wrestling, memories
In 2009, a bald, thin, but jovial Adam Frey was so fired up while coaching, he had to be told this was a benefit wrestling match - for his benefit.
Just over a year later, time has passed, and sadly, so did Adam. But his memory, the foundation that bears his name, and the event he helped found, remains.
Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. will again host the Adam Frey Classic, but the 2010 edition, the second annual, will be without its signature name. The wrestling community lost Frey on December 26 after a well-documented bout with germ cell testicular cancer.
Frey's fight reached many around the nation and the world. Now, Frey's impact will forever be present through the Adam Frey Foundation and the upcoming Adam Frey Classic.
The 2010 Adam Frey Classic is an exhibition match between just about anyone who has ever run into Frey. There are Blair Academy ties, New Jersey ties, Cornell ties, Pennsylvania ties "¦ and pretty much everywhere in between.
In addition to the 18 matches announced by the foundation earlier this year, two New Jersey natives and two-time NCAA Champions Matt Valenti and Joe Dubuque will face off in the main event.
Last year's event raised over $15,000 towards Frey's medical expenses in his battle with cancer. Even before he passed, Frey saw a future in the event and the foundation.
Josh Liebman, a former wrestling coach and educator from Englishtown, N.J., has been organizing the event and spending a lot of time working on the foundation.
"Since Adam's passed, the Foundation is still pretty new," said Liebman. "With everything that had been going on, it's been difficult. But this is going to be the first major fundraiser since Adam's passing, but it's an important one.
"Last year, we did it as much to raise money and to give Adam a chance to be around his friends. We want the wrestling community to get together and celebrate," he said.
Liebman explained what Frey saw that prompted, not just the event, but the foundation itself.
"When Adam was getting treatment, he saw some things that disturbed him," Liebman explained. "He saw a family with so little money, the mom would buy a hamburger and cut it up in four ways so the kids could eat. (He wanted to) help with bills, and all the things you basically don't get help with through insurance, it's all the extra things. That was Adam's vision with it.
"Until I heard it from him, I had no idea what was going on," said Liebman.
"That is all credited to Adam," he said. "He saw it first-hand and he wanted to do something about it. His mom Cindy would cook for the ward. She'd come in and see him after treatment and bring a couple of trays of lasagna.
"He wanted to leave a legacy to assist these people that are basically ignored," said Liebman.
"Last quarter, we were the largest contributor to Hillman Hospital in Pittsburgh. None of the money goes to cancer research, it goes directly to cancer patients and their families," said Liebman.
In all, wrestlers from 19 different colleges will take part in the event, many from New Jersey or wrestled in New Jersey at Blair Academy with Frey. The field features 12 All-Americans and four NCAA champions including 2010 champs J.P. O'Connor and Max Askren.
"Last year, the matches were competitive, but they (the wrestlers) had in mind, this was for a charity and to have fun," said Liebman. "It led to some good matches. Everybody opened up, put on a good show and wrestled hard. They competed for competing sake, rather than a medal on the line."
The event isn't just about the wrestling, notes Liebman.
"There's going to be an all-day barbecue going on outside. Ice cream, a Chinese auction raffle and has some ridiculously awesome prizes," said Liebman. "Ben Askren donated his shorts from his second Bellator fight, he signed and dated them. Jake Herbert sent him a pair of autographed shoes. We had a local travel agent, Debbi Tavares, got some hotel rooms donated for Philadelphia for the NCAA Championships next year and hotel rooms in Atlantic City for the New Jersey states. Hoping to get some tickets donated so it can be a package deal."
Fans will also be treated to a clinic featuring top wrestling minds from around the nation.
Clinicians include: Jeff Buxton, Zach Tanelli, Mark McKnight, Ray Brinzer, Brendan Byrne, Kurt Backes, Troy Nickerson, John Clark, Cory Cooperman, Doug Umbehauer and Jason Nase.
One of the main draws in terms of the lineup will be a match between two three-time All-Americans -Max Askren of Missouri taking on Maryland's Hudson Taylor, a former teammate of Frey at Blair.
"That materialized when I talked to them both, they both said let's do this," said Liebman. "They said if they both wrestle, let's wrestle each other and put on a show. They're friends, under the circumstances, they said hey, let's do it."
Ben Askren, fresh off his championship in Bellator, isn't the only MMA personality who is donating prizes for the raffle. Jim Powers, a heavyweight at Cal Poly and another Blair alum, is bringing, "a bunch of stuff," according to Liebman, including items from wrestlers-turned-fighters Chad Mendes and Urijah Faber.
"The feel of the day is it's going to be a high level of wrestling," said Liebman. "We're going to honor someone who was a friend to us all. Everyone who knew him, loved him."
Liebman is also pointing to another wrestler who has been battling cancer - Pennsylvania high school state champion Eric Hess from Benton.
"If his health allows him to, I've invited Eric out. It's tough because he's going through chemo, but if he can make it out, we want to support him. It's about remembering Adam and his legacy and it's about moving forward and helping those inside and outside the wrestling community who need our help," said Liebman.
From travel agents, to wrestling supply companies like WorldWide Sport Supply and ticket vendors TicketLeap, there has been an outpouring of support for the event and the foundation.
"Matt Valenti's brother Andy works for TicketLeap, they've donated their services at no cost and WorldWide Sport Supply donated singlets to the event - they've been really helpful," said Liebman.
"A couple different websites will cover it and the guys from Takedowns & Falls will be there filming the event and making a documentary about it," he said.
If wrestling fans want to attend, they'd be smart in getting tickets early. Last year, the event drew 1,500 fans in the 2,000-seat Rider gym. Liebman thinks it'd be a good idea to get tickets online, to assure they have a place and to get the online discount.
Wrestling fans looking to help the cause can also donate if they cannot attend.
Liebman's message about the event and foundation is simple.
"His legacy is so much more than wrestling. Once you knew him as a person, what he did as a wrestler became secondary. The things I remember about him, very little has to do with anything on the mat. He was a special kid."
On the Web
Adam Frey Foundation
Adam Frey Classic
(Matches Subject to Change)
Joe Dubuque (Indiana) vs. Matt Valenti (Penn)
Joey Langel (Rutgers) vs. Steve Bonanno (Hofstra)
Patrick Hunter (Wisconsin) vs. Ross Gitomer (Virginia)
Rollie Peterkin (Penn) vs. Steve Mytych (Drexel)
Vinne Dellefave (Rutgers) vs. Jimmy Kirchner (Rider)
Billy Ashnault (Rutgers) vs. Boris Novachkov (Cal Poly)
John Trumbetti (Lock Haven) vs. Steve Bell (Maryland)
Mike Rappo (North Carolina) vs. Kellen Russell (Michigan)
Mario Mason (Rutgers) vs. Alex Krom (Maryland)
James Fleming (Clarion) vs. Danny Lopes (North Carolina)
Matt Cathell (Kent State) vs. Jonny Bonilla-Bowman (Hofstra)
J.P. O'Connor (Harvard) vs. Ramon Santiago (Rider)
Ryan LeBlanc (Indiana) vs. P.J. Gillespie (Hofstra)
Andy Rendos (Bucknell) vs. Alex Caruso (Rutgers)
Dan Rinaldi (Rutgers) vs. Scott Giffin (Penn)
Hudson Taylor (Maryland) vs. Max Askren (Missouri)
Harry Turner (Lock Haven) vs. Tyler Smith (Rider)
Zach Rey (Lehigh) Vs. Ziad Haddad (North Carolina)
Jim Powers (Cal Poly) vs. D.J. Russo (Rutgers)