Unsung Hero: Corrections Officer Khyl Farrison Gives Back to the Community through Youth Wrestling Academy

Coach Khyl Farrison is teaching two students a wrestling move called the ‘cradle.’ Its name refers to the move’s similarity to the way a person holds an infant in their arms. In that way, the cradled wrestler finds it difficult to escape.

By Barry Warner

Wrestling puts kids in situations where they have to dig in and fight to reap the rewards. There are incredible feelings of satisfaction when getting their hands raised after winning hard fought matches. Wrestling uses every part of the body and is one of the toughest sports to train and compete in.

“I took seven kids to their first wrestling tournament, four took first and the others took second,” said Coach Khyl Farrison of the Nanuet-based Farrison Wrestling Academy told the Rockland County Times. “The beautiful thing was that the best compliment I got from the other parents was that ‘your kids really work hard.’ That’s what I want the kids to be known for. Wins will come and so will the losses, but I preach to the kids to work hard and good things will happen.

“There’s the technical side of wrestling and the kids have to know the moves. Wrestling is a sport of putting a number of moves together. For every action, there’s going to be a reaction from your opposing partner. We start to teach the moves in a sequence and their opponent will have moves to escape. Our biggest thing here is that the kids know that for every technique that I show, there’s a counter to those techniques.” Farrison continued. “To be an effective wrestler at any level, you have to string 1-2-3 moves together. I worked as a strength and conditioning coach for nine years. For the young kids, it isn’t so much about strength development, but it’s the understanding about their own bodies. All kids go through an awkward period from 10-14, so what we do to minimize the risk of injuries is work on the cardiovascular component. It is my philosophy that the kids don’t start with any weights until they understand their own body weight. For 8-12 years old, we do basic wheelbarrow exercises, sedan carry and piggyback exercises. These are fundamental movements of supporting someone else’s weight. Kids are paired up according to age, size and ability level.”

“In the recent history of law enforcement, there are certain groups that produce a lot of tension,” said Farrison. You have to work with groups of people in all walks of life. You have to have patience and understanding and listen to all sides before you go to the next level. Here it’s the same thing. The kids come from a long day at school, maybe they didn’t sleep well the night before and you have to have the patience to recognize those issues and know when to push forward and when to back off. The law enforcement perspective is that we develop a sense of patience working with the general public and it carries over here. The mission of this wrestling academy is two-fold; to develop great wrestlers and develop great people to be successful in life. It’s one of those sports where the price you pay has a direct transfer to life. When applying for a job, if you don’t get it, you can fold or move on. Same thing with wrestling—when you’re out there one-on-one, someone’s got to win, someone’s got to lose. I want the kids to have fun, but I tell them it’s important to win and know how to lose, because nobody wins all the time. I didn’t put the kids in a tournament for an entire year because I wanted them to know how to score, to understand the philosophy of wrestling and the rules of wrestling. Then when we went to the tournament, the kids understood the coach’s directions and had the desire to win.”

The 37-year-old Farrison was a three-sport athlete and amassed a wrestling record of 157-29 at Suffern High School under the guidance of the late Mickey DeSimone. In recognition of these achievements, he was a three-time Section 1 Champion, winning Most Valuable Wrestler twice and finished second, third and fifth in the New York State Wrestling Championships. He’s a member of the Section 1 Wrestling Hall of Fame and was named All-County in football and baseball. After holding coaching positions at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Yale University, Manhattanville College, Iona College and Seton Hall University, Farrison returned to Rockland County to pursue a career in law enforcement as a Corrections Officer with the Rockland Count Sherriff’s Department and begin his dream of establishing a wrestling school.

“Trevor is a senior at North Rockland High School,” said parent Beth Bate-Du Boff of her student who is taught by Khyl. “He was a good wrestler who knew he needed to work hard to wrestle on a higher level. Trevor has wrestled since he was in elementary school and worked with other coaches, but nothing compares to what he has learned from Khyl, both on and off the mat. Khyl expects his students to give 100 percent every time they’re on the mat. They may not win, but he expects them to give their all. He stresses fundamentals and a strong work ethic. Wrestling is the only sport where, for six minutes, you’re alone. It’s a team sport and you must pull and encourage your teammates, but for six minutes you’re alone. Trevor has watched someone who has competed at the highest level in three sports and achieved every accolade possible in our region. As a result of college-level coaching, Khyl has insight into techniques and a strength-building regimen that isn’t available in other Rockland programs. Unlike other programs, Khyl is right out there on the mat with the kids, drilling one-on-one and not giving an inch. He’s challenging them to do their best and setting the bar very high for every wrestler. More importantly, the life skills he has instilled in the boys will stay with them, long after graduation.”

Some kids find success early, but many will lose more matches than they win. Many of the greatest wrestlers started out losing their first few seasons. It can take a couple of years before it finally clicks, but when it does, it’s one of the greatest moments to observe. The lights come on, their confidence commences and they start beating opponents they have lost to several times.

For additional information about the Farrison Wrestling Academy, visit khyl@nyunitedbjj.org or call 845-499-6893.