Muchnick makes cut as writer

At 16, you can say Justin Muchnick is an accomplished writer and wrestler.

Muchnick, a former Harbor Day School student, has two books published and he's one of the top wrestlers at his high school. He has a new book out titled "The Boarding School Survival Guide" and he has new title on his wrestling team.


Muchnick is a straight-A student at Phillips Academy Andover school in Massachusetts, and for the first time he got a C. He's awfully proud of this C.

The C is for captain of his wrestling team.


One of most difficult tasks for a wrestler is cutting weight for a tournament. One of the most difficult tasks for a writer is cutting words from a story.

Doing both tends to elicit an array of reactions from Muchnick. When Muchnick writes, he sweats, grunts, and grows frustrated. The same can be said when he's made weight and it's time to wrestle.

While Muchnick isn't the most clinical wrestler or fanciest, he works for his points, and most of the time, he guts out wins.

"I think the experiences of writing and wrestling are very similar," Muchnick said. "When I'm in the heat of the moment, either struggling to find the right word or struggling to take an opponent down, both jobs are, quite frankly, exhausting. But the real joy and accomplishment comes when I look back and say, 'Wow, I wrote a book' or 'Wow, I pinned that guy.'"


There is no formula for success for Muchnick when he writes or wrestles.

For those wrestling with the idea of going to boarding school or sending your kid to boarding school, Muchnick has written a book that can help. He draws from his own experiences and the experiences of other students who have attended boarding school.

"There is no other book out there like it," said Muchnick, who wished there was a book of its kind when he contemplated boarding school as a seventh grader at Harbor Day School, where his seventh-grade teacher, Brian Rogers, inspired him to look into boarding schools.

"[The book] is written by students for students and for parents or anyone interested in learning about the boarding school world."

Muchnick is back in town after spending time with his father, Adam, and two brothers, Jacob, 13, and Ross, 9, at the World Cup in Brazil. Before they left to see the U.S. play Portugal, Germany and Belgium, Muchnick held a book signing on June 8 at the Barnes & Noble at Metro Pointe in Costa Mesa.

He has signed books at that bookstore before with his mother, Cynthia Muchnick, a well-known educational writer and consultant. Mother and son co-wrote "Straight-A Study Skills: More Than 200 Essential Strategies to Ace Your Exams, Boost Your Grades, and Achieve Lasting Academic Success" last year.

A year later, Muchnick wrote his own book.

"It was a different experience doing it on my own," said Muchnick, who is offering $1,000 scholarships toward boarding school tuition for two students and details about applying are available in the back of his book. "I certainly had to be more conscious of my time and deadlines because I didn't have my co-author to keep me on track. On the other hand, it was a freeing experience to be able to write and edit largely at my own pace."


Muchnick edited contributions of 27 boarding school students, including the work of his wrestling teammate, Bennett Sherr. There is also a chapter in the book about boarding school athletics.

Muchnick said the book could help boarding school students with time management and discipline. As for athletes in boarding school, he suggests they watch what they eat in the dining hall.

Muchnick, a 145-pound sophomore last year, sure keeps track of what he consumes because he has to make weight to wrestle. He knows the writing on the wall if he doesn't.