PHS grad Yero Washington is giving back
Yero Washington was on the fast track, so to speak, moving up the NCAA Division I wrestling coaching ladder, working at one of the most prestigious programs in the country.
But Washington gave it all up to make a difference. And he said the decision was a no-brainer.
Washington once had a goal to become a Division I wrestling coach and was on his way as he was the associate head coach at one of the nation’s top programs, Iowa State. But after the 2011-2012 season, Washington left that program to become the executive director of Beat the Streets, a nonprofit organization that brings wrestling to youth in underserved communities in the Los Angeles area, including the inner city of Los Angeles.
Washington, a 1992 Porterville High graduate, won a state title at PHS before going on to Fresno City College where he won another state crown. In winning a state title in 1994, Washington went 38-0 in helping to lead an undefeated Fresno City team to a state crown and a No. 2 national ranking.
This past November, Washington and that Fresno City team was inducted into the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame and Washington had a chance to participate in the ceremony. “That was fantastic,” said Washington about reuniting with that 1994 team.
After Fresno City, Washington went on to become an All-American at Fresno State before embarking on his coaching career which eventually landed him at Iowa State. Washington said he took the position at the high profile program in the hopes that it would put his name out there for a Division I head coaching job some day.
“That was the path I was chasing for a lot of years,” said Washington about his goal to become a Division I head coach.
And Washington said there were chances to become a head coach, but added, “they weren’t necessarily at schools or programs I would consider.”
The chance to head up Beat the Streets, though, was a different matter. “It wasn’t a hard decision for me,” Washington said. “I’m obviously going with a different direction.”
A big reason why Washington joined Beat the Streets was his own background. Washington grew up in Oakland before moving to Porterville when he was 15. “I grew up in a tough situation,” he said. “I was in a tough situation going down a wrong path. I was doing things 13-14-year-olds shouldn’t be doing.”
Washington admits he doesn’t know what would have happened if he hadn’t moved to Porterville from Oakland. “I would like to think I would have overcome the challenges in Oakland,” he said. “The reality is it would have been a very tough road.”
And in wrestling where he became a standout at PHS, Washington said he discovered something that “took me in a direction that was life changing.”
In about the last six months since Washington has joined Beat the Streets, the organization has established wrestling programs at seven middle schools and Washington said in the next year the organization should be able to establish wrestling programs at another seven middle schools.
The organization provides a number of wrestling programs for underserved youth and
Washington said the organization will provide wrestling programs in elementary schools as well. The organization also holds “jamborees,” tournaments for wrestlers in programs offered by Beat the Streets and the obvious goal is for wrestlers in Beat the Streets program to become competitive enough to compete at an elite level.
While Washington’s position is an administrative one, he makes sure to be involved in coaching youth as much as he can. “It keeps me involved in the sport,” he said. “I am very hands on.”