St. Luke’s Offers Schools and Clubs Free Clinics Featuring Local Elite Collegiate Wrestlers

St. Luke’s University Health Network’s Sports Medicine Department now offers free “Rising Star” wrestling clinics featuring outstanding local collegiate wrestlers. During the clinics, the athletes, who serve as sports ambassadors, work with young wrestlers in groups and individually. Besides helping young athletes improve their skills, they motivate them by sharing personal stories, including their challenges and successes.

“They’re spreading the good word of wrestling, and they’re giving back to the communities that otherwise might not get these opportunities for high-level skill development,” said Adam Glose, Sports Medicine Coordinator. The program has already provided eight clinics with an average attendance of about 50.

The wrestlers were selected for the outreach program based on their wrestling success, personality and character.

“They are great at teaching kids and have tremendous expertise,” said John F. Graham, Senior Network Administrator, Fitness & Sports Performance. “These athletes are very successful in wrestling. Also, their personalities are very well received by the coaches and the parents in attendance.”

Graham said the clinics have been well attended and received positive reviews. For example, more than 100 wrestlers from nine different school districts participated in a recent clinic at Whitehall High School. The clinics are part of the Sports Medicine Department’s comprehensive Name Image Likeness (NIL) program, which aims to develop future leaders in our community. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) allows athletes to receive payment for using their name, image and likeness.

Ryan Crookham, a local wrestling star, is among the participating wrestlers. He wrestled at Saucon Valley High School and is now majoring in finance and engineering.

“It’s come full circle for me to be able to work with these local kids because I’m from the Lehigh Valley,” Crookham said. “I was built here, and my skills are due to the high-level wrestling in the Lehigh Valley. It means a lot to teach these kids. When I look at them, I see myself, and I think it would be great to see them go to my university.”

Graham said one of the goals of the program is to encourage high school students to remain in the region and continue their wrestling career at local colleges.

Wrestler Malyke Hines of Kissimmee, Florida, is far from home. “I’m very big on giving back to the community and giving back to the youth,” said Hines, who started when he was 13. “Wrestling has been a big part of my life and I like giving back to the sport. I thought it would be good to partner with St. Luke’s.”

Wrestler Michael Beard, who began participating in the sport when he was six with a wrestling club in Malvern, near Philadelphia, agreed, “It’s a good way to give back to the local community, impact young athletes as much as we can through wrestling and be good role models for the community.”

The wrestlers said they have also gained from the experience. Hines, who is majoring in entrepreneurship and innovation and hopes to have his own streetwear brand, said that through the program he has made connections. At a recent event, he got to know a New York fashion designer.

Beard, a political science major, hopes to enter sales. He plans to start an internship at Lutron in June. “I think the program has helped me have better communication skills overall because we go to clinics and have to show moves in front of everyone and make sure they understand what we’re saying.”

Wrestling has been a big part of all the collegiate athletes’ lives. Beard said benefits of participating in the sport include bonding with his teammates and building social networks that will benefit him throughout his career and life. It has also taught him that he can reach his goals through hard work and discipline.

Hines agreed, “Wrestling has helped me to be a better person, showing grit and staying disciplined. Discipline is everything. Being successful on the mat represents who you are off the mat, which is staying disciplined and consistent in life when it comes to sleeping, eating and being a good person. You can correlate that to a job or having a family.”

Graham said the program has exceeded his expectations. “These guys are packing rooms with lots of kids,” he said. “They spend quality time talking to the kids during and after the clinic. They’ve signed a lot of autographs over the short time they’ve been with us. They’re regarded highly by the kids and the coaches.”

St. Luke’s has 16 other NIL athletes across various sports, such as football, field hockey, basketball, softball and soccer, Glose said.

Photo caption: From left, Malyke Hines, Ryan Crookham and Michael Beard, elite wrestlers for a local university and St. Luke’s Rising Stars, recently shared their knowledge and skills with the wrestling team at Northampton Senior High School, one of many clinics throughout the region sponsored by St. Luke’s.


About St. Luke’s

Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network of more than 20,000 employees providing services at 15 campuses and 350+ outpatient sites.  With annual net revenue of $3.4 billion, the Network’s service area includes 11 counties in two states: Lehigh, Northampton, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Montgomery, Monroe, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey. St. Luke’s hospitals operate the largest network of trauma centers in Pennsylvania, with the Bethlehem Campus being home to St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital.

Dedicated to advancing medical education, St. Luke’s is the preeminent teaching hospital in central-eastern Pennsylvania.  In partnership with Temple University, the Network established the Lehigh Valley’s first and only four-year medical school campus.  It also operates the nation’s oldest School of Nursing, established in 1884, and 52 fully accredited graduate medical educational programs with more than 500 residents and fellows. In 2022, St. Luke’s, a member of the Children’s Hospital Association, opened the Lehigh Valley’s first and only free-standing facility dedicated entirely to kids.

SLUHN is the only Lehigh Valley-based health care system to earn Medicare’s five-star ratings (the highest) for quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction.  It is both a Leapfrog Group and Healthgrades Top Hospital and a Newsweek World’s Best Hospital.  The Network’s flagship University Hospital has earned the 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation from Fortune/PINC AI 10 years in a row, including in 2023 when it was identified as THE #4 TEACHING HOSPITAL IN THE COUNTRY.  In 2021, St. Luke’s was identified as one of the 15 Top Health Systems nationally.  Utilizing the Epic electronic medical record (EMR) system for both inpatient and outpatient services, the Network is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of the SLUHN’s information technology applications such as telehealth, online scheduling and online pricing information.  The Network is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest-cost providers.

Information provided to TVL by:
Sam Kennedy