Special Education Teacher Follows Olympic Dream


New York’s Southern Tier will be represented this weekend at the Olympic trials for men’s wrestling.

Enock Francois is a sixth grade special education teacher at Spencer-Van Etten Middle School in Tioga and Chemung Counties.

He also trains with Cornell University’s Division I team.

Before training there, Francois’ plans almost crumbled when the International Olympic Committee temporarily voted wrestling out of the games. He says he was ready to move on.

“When you’re getting something you love stripped away from you, it’s disheartening, but there’s more to life than that. So you’re just like, ‘Alright, I still can move forward.'”

Luckily, the IOC quickly reinstated the sport. Now, Francois is training hard and he’s on a leave of absence from Spencer-Van Etten Middle School. Still, he drops in for visits.

“Every time I go in, whether it’s three weeks or something like that, they all rush me and give me hugs,” Francois says. “They act like I’ve been gone for a year. It’s nice to feel and know that you’re appreciated and you’re making a difference and you’re impacting lives. They don’t shy away from letting you know that.”

Francois says helping the students and seeing their growth is gratifying. In the future, he hopes to go into higher education and possibly do some athletic directing.

Olympic wrestling trials for both men and women are this weekend in Iowa City, Iowa.