My name is Jaden Abas. I am a Sophomore currently ranked 12th in the country on a team poised to achieve the program’s highest finish in Stanford history.
“Keep Stanford Wrestling.”
To you, those three words exemplify an ongoing fight between the wrestling community and the Stanford administration. To me, those three words represent my life. The first time I stepped on a wrestling mat I knew I was going to be something special. With the guidance of a D1 wrestling coach and one of California’s greatest as a dad, I knew my opportunities in this sport were endless.
The sport of wrestling saved my father. It allowed him to escape a crime-ridden inner-city Oakland area to Fresno State, where he found my mother. My mom is from the Bay Area as well; my grandparents live 5 minutes from campus in Mountain View. My family always pushed me to attend Stanford to stay close to family. (I mean, which family wouldn’t?)
My dad’s passion and success in the sport fueled mine to an unmeasurable extent. Knowing that wrestling would one day come to an end, I knew to set my sights higher than just athletics. And I believe there is no better place to find a greater passion than at the best university in the world in one’s home state. For as long as I could remember, Stanford was my dream school (everyone’s dream school) and without wrestling my opportunity to attend was almost impossible.
I attacked my schoolwork and extracurriculars like I would attack an opponent. I worked as hard in the classroom as I would in the practice room when competing for national titles. I would spend hours preparing and training for a match the same as I would for a big exam. Wrestling has shaped every aspect of my life and I truly believe the life lessons this grueling and testing sport teaches are what breeds world leaders and thriving individuals. I have great faith in the wrestling community to repeal this pressured decision because if there is anything the sport of wrestling teaches a wrestler, it is to never give up.
It's hard to explain to someone who hasn’t had first-hand experience with the benefits of the “grind” of wrestling, but in my opinion, WRESTLING IS LIFE. Wrestling is a struggle. A constant fight pitting the will of two individuals against each other. The stronger will generally earning the victory, but that’s easy to see with the sport. Most individuals don’t see the art associated with the battle. I strive for the art. To dominate an opponent giving it all they have with no need of personal struggle is simply beautiful to me. Wrestling is a sport for competitors because YOU have full control of the outcome. It’s just you and your opponent out there and once an individual realizes he has control of his own destiny, no opponent will stand in the way. I believe this lesson fares far beyond just the sport of wrestling. Wrestling teaches us that the biggest opponent we will ever face in life is within ourselves. It’s just you out there and before you can beat anyone else you must first conquer yourself.
It hurts to see a sport I love so much fail to receive the recognition it deserves. In the growing business of mixed martial arts (MMA), wrestling receives high praise. Over half of the UFC champions today have a wrestling foundation. Yet disregarding the physical techniques and attacks that transfer to MMA, most fighters would agree it’s the grit and mental aspect that wrestlers carry that allow them to excel in the fighting world. This wrestling mentality holds more prominence in other countries across the world exceeding that of America’s. Wrestling not only connects different cultures and languages, wrestling also connects species. All animals wrestle and have been since the beginning of time. Wrestling is an outlet of communication to distinguish dominance. The rules and victor in a wrestling match can be seen through all cultures and languages, even generally by someone ignorant of the sport. Wrestling is human nature and the fight is within each of us.
With Stanford leading the way in most aspects politically, I fear this idea will spread to other universities in the country. My last name is prominent in the wrestling world and I have tremendous pride in representing my name in this great sport. I hope one day my child has the chance to do the same. The sport of wrestling and Stanford University are very similar in their goals and lessons. I believe the main similarity between Stanford and the sport of wrestling is the manifestation of leaders and strong-willed outspoken individuals. I’m not ready to give up on my dream. For as long as I could remember, I’ve desired to earn the @stanford.edu email address and I will continue to use it with pride till the day I or Stanford wrestling dies. Wrestling belongs at Stanford! What a shame it would be to the wrestling community and many Stanford fans nationwide to eliminate a program that has been a part of this great university since 1916. I’ve dreamt my whole life to put on that cardinal red singlet and I’m not ready to let that dream die! (With new NCAA rules, my introductory year will have a #KeepStanfordWrestling on the singlet.) I trust in my ability to one day win an NCAA championship and I hope you can, too.
- Jaden Abas