Now playing for Carson – Bozin
Appeal Sports Writer
Senior year is supposed to be a time high school students remember vividly; in fact, for many it serves as the pinnacle of their lives, glory days they can reflect back on in that rare spare moment away from the job, the children and the other responsibilities of life that come with adulthood.
For 17-year-old Robbie Bozin, a 125-pounder for the Senators wrestling team, looking back on his senior year at Carson High School will be a much easier undertaking than for most.
Bozin is an aspiring filmmaker and for his senior project he has been making a video-documentary of his entire season. He’s already done a video of motocross rider Tucker Ford and has captured his friends and teammates skateboarding, snowboarding, wakeboarding and in other pulse-pounding endeavors.
So Bozin will not only wrestle in his final high school event – the Class 4A state wrestling championships today and tomorrow at Spanish Springs High School – but will capture it on video as well.
TELL ME YOU GOT THAT
A fan of filmmaker Steven Spielberg, Bozin plans on attending El Camino Junior College, in Torrance, Calif., following high school and will be able to show the wrestling coaches what he’s got both on film and on the mat when he tries out for the team.
Once he’s received his A.A., Bozin plans on following the footsteps of Spielberg by attending California State University, Long Beach, where he will study film production.
“He brings that camera everywhere,” says Bozin’s friend Kyle Banko, who wrestles at 130 pounds for Carson and was Bozin’s fellow linebacker/running back for the Senators football team. “It’s cool what he can do. When we skateboard and wakeboard in the summer, he films it all and we can watch it over and over again. We wakeboarded at the canal at the high school and he got that on film.”
Banko said Bozin has already found out that sometimes there’s a price to pay when capturing good art.
“In Gardnerville he was at the skate park filming and standing by the jump,” Banko says with glee. “He went to get a freaky angle of our buddy, Ike. (Ike) bailed and his board hit Robbie in the face.”
Ever the teammate, Banko was glad to share another Bozin moment.
“He was trying to get a good angle to film some wakeboarding at a river and he couldn’t tell where the edge of the water drops off,” Banko says. “Then he falls in the water face-first and wrecks his camera.
“He was laughing at the time, but the next day he was pissed. He didn’t have a camera anymore.”
A ROUGH OUTLINE
However it turns out, Bozin’s senior project will end up capturing only a small slice of the athlete he’s become since beginning his wrestling and football career when he was 7.
If he were to begin his own documentary, Robbie (also known as Robert Michael Bozin II) just might start of with a testament from his father, Robert Michael Bozin, about the family’s athletic history.
The senior Bozin – who used to be Robbie but became Rob when his son came along – might tell the camera a little story.
“Most of Robbie’s athletic ability comes from his grandfather,” Rob says. “He was a pitcher in the Navy. He pitched in Pearl Harbor during World War II. One of the guys he played with was Joe DiMaggio.”
Not that Rob was any slouch himself.
Known as “Iron Hands,” the 5-foot-7, 185-pound Rob also played football – he was a center – and was able to bench press 425 pounds.
Then Rob could look into the camera and talk about the time he filled Robbie full of lead.
“Since he was 7, Robbie was one of the littlest players in Pop Warner and the (Carson) Bulldogs (club wrestling team),” he says. “In order for him to make 45 pounds (on the Pop Warner team), I had to melt two pounds of lead and fill his jock strap.”
Robbie not only went on to make the weight then, but according to Rob his son went on to gain his own group of fans.
“Parents since then come up to me and say Robbie is their favorite player to watch. He’s infectious to watch play sports. Parents come up to me and say, ‘He’s my favorite to watch play football and wrestle.’
“Before high school, he had some outstanding games at running back in Pop Warner. He had over 2,000 yards his last season.”
Bozin even has his own rooting section, sister Annemarie, who is a sophomore on the CHS varsity cheerleading squad.
A HEAVY LOAD
Bozin has been equally compelling on the mat. He finished second in the Northern 4A regional championships his first three years in high school and placed third this year.
But even though he has won several tournaments this season, including three in California – Marin, Albany and Rosemont – and one at Douglas High School, it was his third-place finish at regionals that drew the ire of first-year Carson coach Tyson Thivierge.
A close-up shot of the intense Thivierge would look good on film.
“Robbie should’ve dominated that kid,” Thivierge says of eventual champion Jeremy Wilson, of Galena, who defeated Bozin, 4-3, and who was able to ride Robbie for the final two minutes to victory. “(Robbie) looked to the referee for help. After the match he was upset. I don’t think he was mentally ready. Wilson was. He scouted Robbie quite a bit.
“Robbie’s biggest mistake was looking past that match. His weakest part in on the bottom. On top he’s good. But he didn’t push as hard as he needed to on the bottom.”
Thivierge thinks it’s a mental barrier, one that he and two other coaches attempted to smash through this week. The 205-pound Thivierge rode Bozin for 65 minutes straight on Monday before Bozin could escape.
“He said, ‘You’re too heavy,'” Thivierge says of Bozin. “I said, ‘No, you just don’t want to get off the bottom. Why don’t you believe you can get off the bottom?'”
“Coach is 205 – he’s sick,” Bozin says of the experience. “He was on my ankle, I was kicking him in the head…I did everything I could do to get out. I was dead. I was dead. It was good. I needed it.”
So on Tuesday, assistant coach Justin Shine rode Bozin for 45 minutes before he could escape. On Wednesday, assistant coach Eric Aguilera rode him for 25 minutes.
“They were just going crazy,” Bozin says.
Teammate Todd Banko, who wrestles at 119 pounds, witnessed all three of the practices.
“Coach Thivierge is way tough,” he says. “When he gets mad, he’s intense. All three of our coaches are just out of high school and college wrestling. They beat him up. For two minutes against Wilson, he couldn’t break through all of those walls. I think now he’s able to do it. I think they found (the answer). He’s on top of his game.”
A MOTIVATIONAL DENOUMENT
This is the attitude Thivierge is trying to instill in Bozin.
“Nobody can hold me down,” Thivierge says. “It’s when you choose to get up. Same on your feet. It’s when you choose to take (the opponent) down. We’ve knocked down a lot of walls with Robbie. We want to get that last one out of the way.
“It’s never to late to teach, as long as you realize what you need to grow from in practice. He’ll come along. We’ll never let you think it’s too late to learn from it.”
Thivierge says Bozin has it in him to win his first and final state title.
“He’s a horse. He’s stronger than crap,” he says. “His best asset is his defense. He’s got a great defense. He’s a little more powerful than he believes. If he utilizes that and puts it into his offense, he’d be untouchable.”
Forget about the wrestling classic “Vision Quest.” This is Bozin’s movie.
Focus that camera in on Bozin now and hear him talk about the sacrifices you have to make if you want to wrestle. Listen to him talk about two grueling practices a day – with one of them being a day a coach that outweighs him by 80 pounds rides him for an hour.
Listen to him talk about going to a gym at night – after the two practices – where he needs to do an hour-and-a-half of cardio and boil down in a sauna in order to lose the last two pounds.
Hear him talk about eating salads and chicken and drinking water while his family is eating pizza and his sister is cooking brownies, the smell of which works his way into his bedroom where he tries to get away from it all.
Listen to his girlfriend say he’s got PMS for three months a year or that “Robbie’s on his period,” because his nerves are raw from dieting and exercising to nth degree.
Now ask him about his grandmother, Louise Bozin, who died less than a month ago.
“She had diabetes and one kidney,” Bozin says. “She underwent dialyses three times a week. The doctor said she had less than one month to live. She lived for five years. Some days she didn’t want to be here anymore.
“She used to love reading about me in the paper. She loved hearing about me. If an 83-year-old woman can fight through that, I can fight through this. I said I wanted to win state for her when she passed away. She couldn’t go to my tournaments anymore.”
The camera is now in Spanish Springs High School. It is the Class 4A state wrestling championships. That’s Robbie Bozin walking on to the mat. He needs to win three matches in a row to reach his dream.
As he gets ready to tie up, he hears his family rooting for him. He thinks his grandmother is watching. He crouches and gets ready to attack. He hears the referee’s whistle and, “Go, go go!”
How will this senior project/video end? To listen to Thivierge, it’s up to Bozin.