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Teen of the Week: Spadaro, wrestles with muscles, mussels
By WENDI WINTERS, For The Capital

Tucked back on Cattail Creek near the tail end of the Magothy River is the Spadaro homestead.

Lewis P. Spadaro, 17, is knee deep, wading in the brackish water. He can see the bottom very clearly. His feet, looking a little green, are outlined against the dark creek bed.

"This is scary," Lewis said. "It's a tremendous difference from when I was 5 years old. Now you can see what you're stepping on. The change happened with the introduction of the dark false mussel into the creek."

He noted: "We had a big bloom last year. They grow in cycles. They really cleaned up the creek."

Lewis' interest in the river comes from his family.

His father, F. Paul Spadaro, a cartographer for the Federal Aviation Administration, is the feisty president of the Magothy River Association. An unpaid volunteer, he wrestles daily with issues affecting life in and around the river and its watershed. One of the biggest issues right now is the landowner who built a palatial home on Little Island without bothering to get permits.

Though Lewis has long been an active volunteer for MRA, when he wrestles, his opponent is usually a teen who weighs the same as him.

A rising senior at Severna Park High School with an overall 3.0 grade point average and a soft spot for cheesecake and Cantonese orange chicken, Lewis will be captain of the school's wrestling team for the second year in a row.

He participated in an open national tournament, held in Virginia Beach June 25 to 29, and sponsored by the National High School Coaches Association. Hundreds of kids of all ages and weight classes, from 40 states, competed over four days.

Not surprisingly, Lewis achieved All-American status. He placed eighth out of 47 competitors in the 171-pound freestyle weight category. "Only thetop eight get All-American," Lewis said, explaining he's now recognized as one of the top wrestlers in the country in his category. College scouts now have his number.

Paul Joyce, head wrestling coach at Severna Park High for seven years and an 11-year veteran of the school said, "Making All-American is the culmination of all his hard work this spring. He's competed in eight to 10 school tourneys and three national ones with Team Maryland."

Lewis, with a 25-7 record, is a two-time Anne Arundel County champ in the 160-pound category and two-time state qualifier.

"He's a very nice guy, admired by kids in other sports at Severna Park High School," the coach added.

He's also been honored his junior and sophomore years as "SPHS Outstanding Wrestler of the Year," and has been acknowledged for "all-county" kudos in the The Capital, The Sun and The Washington Post.

In postseason, he's captain of the Team Maryland wrestling team. This summer he's working as a counselor at a county youth wrestling camp run by Coach Joyce.

"I'm known for the switch," Lewis admitted. "If I wind up on the bottom, I eventually wind up on top on time, though it's only two points."

He tries not to focus on what strategy puts him on top. "If you remember too much, you get caught up in what you did, not what you can do."

Lewis is also a two-year member of the SPHS varsity football team, playing on the defensive and offensive line.

He would like to wrestle in college, though many wrestling programs have faded away, due to colleges' needs to satisfy federal Title IX mandates to provide equal sports opportunities to female students, he said. One college he is considering is Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, which has a respected wrestling program.

The sport isn't his top priority in choosing a college. He's also looking for one with a good computer science program. Lewis was drawn in by a visual basics programming class at school and is looking forward to an Advanced Placement computer science course this fall.

"He spends most of his free time on the computer," sighed his mother, Sandy Spadaro. She works for the Naval Academy Alumni Association as chapters editor of the alumni magazine, Shipmate.

Lewis has one sibling, Nick, 15, who mirrors his big brother's features and wrestling interests.

When he's not studying new grips or programming languages, Lewis is outside on the Magothy with his family, trying to make the river cleaner. He likes tubing, wake boarding or riding in one of his family's three boats. But he's just as likely to be planting bay grasses or casting reef balls in concrete. When a ball is lowered into the river by volunteer divers, oysters eagerly fasten themselves to it, kick starting a new oyster reef.

"I've done a lot of grunt work," Lewis laughed.

And like a grunt, he's not afraid of putting in the effort to succeed.

The teen recalled he started wrestling in sixth grade when a football coach suggested the sport.

"My first year was terrible. I sucked," he said bluntly. He didn't give up because, "I had had so many bad soccer and football seasons, losing wasn't a foreign thing. I did a lot better my second year and made the (Severna Park) Green Hornets' A team.

"I've learned the hardest part in any sport is to not let your opponent get into your head, scoring points against you. Just because you're down doesn't mean you can't come back, even though time is running out."

To nominate a Teen of the Week, contact Wendi Winters at Teen@quantumstep.com; write to her c/o The Capital, P.O. Box, 911, Annapolis, MD 21401; or fax to 410-280-5953.

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Published July 16, 2005, The Capital, Annapolis, Md.
Copyright © 2005 The Capital, Annapolis, Md.


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