My name is Austin-Caleb Kenji Flores, a proud alumnus of Stanford wrestling who has recently heard of the plan to remove the Stanford wrestling program. Stanford Wrestling served as a beacon of light in my formative years; honed my discipline and dedication to pursue my passions; as well as allowed me to join a legacy of like-minded talented individuals. I wish to share my own story to demonstrate how removing Stanford Wrestling would rob future generations from the life-changing experiences Stanford Wrestling blessed me with.
I knew from a young age that Stanford’s academic prestige and competitive D1 wrestling program were unparalleled, and I made it my life’s mission to attend my dream school. I grew up in a low-income family, so with the full support of my parents, we made many sacrifices so that I could pursue my aspiration of becoming a Stanford wrestler. Instead of going on family vacations, my parents would save so that we could attend the wrestling tournaments held all across the country. Witnessing how my parent’s hard-earned money was being invested in my future only helped to further fuel my passion. When I wasn’t on the mat at a wrestling tournament or practice, I was dedicated to my studies since I knew becoming a Stanford wrestler required me to be an exceptional student as well.
Fast forward to the day of my acceptance into Stanford and the Stanford wrestling program. Coach Borrelli would call me late in the evening with life-changing news. Everything that I had been working so hard for, years of dedication and sacrifice from my family and myself had finally paid off. It is impossible to explain the turmoil of emotions one feels when you achieve your dream, but just know that it is a memory I will cherish forever.
What I had not anticipated was how much Stanford Wrestling would continue to impact and mold my life even after I got in. Stanford Wrestling teaches each of its athletes what it means to be Cardinal Caliber, it teaches them about family, hard work, sacrifice, integrity, positive attitude, and passion. All of these traits are required in order to make it as a wrestler, but the best part of being Cardinal Caliber is that it extends into your everyday life, too. I understand what it means to truly dedicate myself to the things I care about, I understand what it means to make sacrifices to achieve better results in the future, and I understand what it means to do the right thing, even when no one is looking. Because of all this, being Cardinal Caliber leaves each of its student-athletes with a pride that is hard to experience anywhere else.
Now that I am a proud alumnus of Stanford Wrestling, I am happy to say that I am still living by the Cardinal Caliber values. I put the same passion into my profession as a software engineer at Apple that I did with wrestling. A profession, by the way, that was only possible because of a recommendation that I received from a previous Stanford wrestler. I have since passed along other recommendations to Apple for other wrestlers that they have hired. This is an honor to me because each person that comes out of Stanford wrestling stays a part of the Cardinal family and joins a legacy we are trying to leave behind.
After hearing the announcement that Stanford may lose its wrestling program, I couldn't help but think of the next generation that has been training day and night to become a Stanford wrestler, a dream that allowed me to push myself to my limits, only to realize their dream school no longer supports their ambitions. The incoming freshmen who felt inexplicable joy as they received their admission letter and achieved their dreams only to realize that their dreams have been crushed as they were so close to the finish line. The student-athletes currently on the team who will never be able to fully live out what it means to be a Cardinal Caliber wrestler. Finally, the wrestling alumni who will be losing a legacy that has withstood and supported each other for years. Generations of blood, sweat, and tears will have their aspirations diminished with the removal of the Stanford wrestling program. Stanford ending its wrestling program not only will impact the wrestling community, but it will also end the pipeline of future excellence.
- Austin Flores '19