Staples Wrestlers Tackle Tough Jobs

High school winter sports are on hold until January 19. Basketball courts, hockey rinks, swimming pools — all are quiet.

The Staples High School wrestling team can’t practice or compete either. But they’re not taking the layoff lying down.

The Wreckers keep in shape by lifting. Not in the weight room, of course — that’s closed too.

Instead, the grapplers lift treadmills. Sofas. Pianos. You name it — if you’ve got a moving job (or any other work), they’ll do it.

And the service is free. (Donations to the wrestling program are gratefully accepted, for sure.)

Need a stone wall dismantled and moved? Call the Staples wrestling team!

The wrestlers form one of the tightest, most cohesive teams at Staples. (Their sport is one of the toughest, too.) Much of that is built on the foundation laid by Terry Brannigan. The former Staples wrestler’s son TJ graduated last spring after a stellar career. His second son Eamon is a junior on the squad.

As part of Brannigan’s effort 3 years ago to boost the morale of what was then a flagging program — and introduce the community to the team and sport — he realized that strong, enthusiastic teenagers could fill a need.

Facebook’s Westport Front Porch page often featured requests for help with jobs no one seemed to want to do. They were heavy, messy, small or required a truck.

One day Brannigan responded: “I know 30 fit, polite and responsible young men who are happy to do it: the Staples wrestling team!”

Quickly, someone asked how much they’d charge. He replied, “Nothing. If you’re happy, just say something nice about the team. If you feel like making a tip, it will go to the team.”

That was 100 jobs ago.

Among the wrestlers’ jobs: moving a chicken coop. This was before the pandemic, which is why they’re not wearing masks.)

The first request was to clear wood and brush from a yard, left there by an unscrupulous contractor. The homeowner could not pay what Brannigan calls “extortion prices” of area companies. After the wrestlers’ final trip to the dump, she tearfully said, “you’ve restored my faith in this town.”

Word spread. Soon they were working nearly every weekend. Along the way, they met “the nicest people,” Brannigan says. “And we’ve had a great time.”

They have moved, cleaned and transported everything imaginable. The heavyweights do the heavy lifting; the light guys maneuver in tight spaces.

Since the pandemic struck, they’ve done a booming business moving treadmills. Some are ordered online, delivered to the garage, and need to be brought downstairs. Others are bought from someone in town, and must be transported.

“We’ve gone up and down and around obstacles no one else would touch,” Brannigan says.

The wrestlers put the treadmills together too, if needed. One of their favorite jobs was for a 103-year-old military veteran, who was excited to get back to exercising.

The wrestling team specializes in bringing big items down small spaces.

The list of jobs is long. The teenagers have moved hot tubs, patio furniture and a chicken coop. They maneuvered a piano down stairs that a professional mover would not touch (“without even touching a wall,” Brannigan says proudly).

They’ve planted 900 tulip bulbs, fixed awnings, removed snow too, took apart a stone wall, and broke down the Remarkable Theater after a concert.

Each time, Brannigan says, “we make a friend. We receive a donation. Most importantly, they meet our athletes.”

It’s a fun event for the boys. They meet at Brannigan’s house or the diner for breakfast before work, or have a donut afterward. (Hey — the season has not yet begun!)

Most weekends, 2 crews work. Sal Augeri helps Brannigan supervise, but the bulk of the work is done by the teenagers. Five have pickup trucks; one has a trailer.

It takes money to run a sports program, beyond what the athletic budget provides. The wrestlers are earning funds to pay for extra coaches, equipment, and some of the extras that make their program one of the best in the state.

Now all they need is a season. They certainly earned it.

(Need some help? Email terrybrannigan5@gmail.com or call 203-644-8403.)

10 responses to “Staples Wrestlers Tackle Tough Jobs

  1. Terri Brannigan and his crew are absolutely the best!

  2. Wrestling team are all such polite young men and strong as buffalos. Have used them twice now when moving house in December. They picked up heavy outdoor umbrellas and concrete plant pots with ease, All are incredibly strong and deserve every dollar donated.

  3. These fellows helped me a couple of weeks ago moving an extremely heavy couch from my basement to the curb. When we were down in the basement assessing the best strategy I said “Be careful guys this is heavier than you think”…Terry said “These guys are stronger than you think”…He was right! On top of everything they couldn’t have been more polite. I’m quite serious when I say we can use more young MEN like these guys!!

  4. Way to go Brannigans and the Staples Wrestlers! All should know when ever there is a need for large ticket items, like a new mat, the team and its booster parents step up and get it purchased. No whining, no complaining just as they do on the mat they get it done. I know the Matmen are open to donations and appreciate Westport’s support.
    I congratulate the team members, the parents and the coaches for working so hard to improve and build on a storied sports program, Good luck when the first whistle starts the first match in February.

  5. Terry Brannigan

    Thanks Dan and everyone else! It’s been so great meeting everyone.

    I just want to make sure that the 06880 nation knows this is a TEAM effort, The Brannigns are part of that team but it takes an Arrmy and we have had unbelievable support from the Augeri family and all the other people associated with our program.

    Dan has always been a our biggest fan and his fingerprints are all over our success story!

  6. Where should donations be directed?

  7. Lila Shah-Wright

    Is there another way to donate if you don’t have Venmo? Thank you.

  8. Lila,

    That is amazing. You can write a check to Staples Mat Men and mail it to:

    Terry Brannigan
    87 North Ave
    Westport CT 06880

    Or the guys would be happy to come to you and thank you in person!

  9. Terry is one of the nicest Westporters I have had the pleasure to meet in. And to add to that, Sal and his son Nick and the captain Owen were great! My kids are in elementary school now and I love that the values of being kind transcend from elementary through to high schoolers. Really could not have had a better impression of these high schoolers! Oh yeah and the moving part 🙂 – that was the icing on the cake. They took care of everything and with such ease and care and made sure the job was done well. I am so appreciative of this service and grateful to have come upon the matmen! (did I mention they moved a piano!!)

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