Undisputed Champions graduate from Wildwood School program

ALBANY – The young adults inside Schott’s Boxing Gym in Albany Thursday afternoon are on a journey of a thousand punches. It is part of a lifelong journey to explore the limitations of their existence.

"We don’t get in the ring and hit each other, but we teach them it’s about fighting adversity," says Tom Shreck, the Wildwood School Director of Communications who founded the Undisputed Champions program a decade ago. "It’s about fighting limits, and it’s about always keeping fighting even when life is hitting you back."

Ever since Shreck created the program, it has proven to be a developmental godsend for the teens and young adults navigating the challenges of autism spectrum disorders or other neurological impairments.

For Emmi Crosier, the program has been an undisputed success. She says it gave her the self-confidence to move out of her parents’ house, live on her own, and get a job. Today, she coaches others.

"I’m someone that people like to relate to because everyone looks at me, and it’s like this person seems to be normal but deep inside I’m just like everyone else," Crosier stated. "I try to inspire others so that they can be inspired to be the best they can be."

Javy Martinez, a Colonie police officer, trains students to improve their physical strength, coordination and balance, but most importantly their self-esteem.

"The harder you push them, the harder they push back," Martinez says, "That’s the definition of resiliency. There’s no quit. They don’t whine. They don’t complain. In this world filled with mediocrity, they couldn’t be any more exceptional than they are."

Over the course of the ten-week program, not a single punch is landed inside the boxing ring, but what they carry with them on the outside will give them a fighting chance in life.