New Boxing Program Helps Teens KO Stress and Anxiety

Christian Pensa, Reporter

Erick Acosta shows great form while practicing at Hill Street Boxing. (Chris DeRosa)

Many high school students neglect stress management, in spite of its importance. The same routine day after day can wear teens down, especially with varying amounts of work from night to night. For a select group of students, their preferred stress management method comes in the form of the Hampton Bays High School boxing program with Hill Street Boxing, which was started by Mr. DeRosa and Ms. Vargas. 

The goal of the program, according to Mr. DeRosa, is to offer students different outlets to let out their feelings in healthy and positive ways. “I am hoping our students are learning the importance of expressing their feelings,” he said. “The same way you work out and practice to improve your physical health, you have to workout and practice mentally to improve your mental health.

The students involved seem to agree with this. Senior Sarah Montalvo said that she feels the program helps students let out their anger in a positive way. She also said, “When I box, I let go of all [of] my stress and anxiety, and it calms me down.” 

Clearly, the group places a great emphasis on mental health in addition to physical boxing prowess. In describing a day in the program, Mr. DeRosa said, “First we meet together and do some social/emotional learning. Each student has their own ‘Who Am I’ packet that has 50 questions.  We circle up and each week you have a different partner, and you exchange packets and answer questions about the other person.  The questions are personal questions, for example, ‘Tell me about a difficult time/event you have been through?’ or ‘Who is the most important person in your life, and why?’” He continued, “This allows us all to build strong connections with each other and practice expressing our emotions…seeing the students gain an air of comfort and confidence within themselves is truly special to watch.”

DeRosa also described the bonding experiences the students have with their trainers. “The family feeling that Hill Street offers is truly amazing.  Avery, Tommy, Grant, and Courtney are great role models for our students, and they have classes every day.  So even though our seniors will be graduating, the Hill Street family will always be there, and they are always welcome at Hill Street.” Avery Crocker is the founding trainer and manager at Hill Street, and their website describes his love for working with kids and adults, creative combinations on the mitts and ability to focus on technique as the factors that keep people coming back for more.