Even with his wrestling headgear on, it’s impossible to miss Grovetown High School’s 120-pound wrestler Jessie Maya, who sports a red, black and blue mohawk.
It’s been Maya’s look since he started wrestling three years ago.
“It’s just what I do when wrestling season comes,” said Maya. “The rest of the year I grow it out. I trim it and wait for wrestling to start again.”
Though he’s played football and soccer since he was in third grade, he started wrestling to match a major change in his life.
“I moved here from Texas my sophomore year and I wanted to try something new, so I thought I would do wrestling,” said Maya, who is off to a 9-1 start to the season. “I enjoy it.”
In his senior season, Maya also is the captain of the young team.
“Jessie really is the heart and soul of our team,” said head coach Jay Acree. “He’s the emotional leader, he’s a captain and he’s more experienced than just about any of our wrestlers except for maybe one or two.
“He leads by example. He doesn’t talk a lot.”
Being a captain is a challenge Maya was ready to tackle.
“It means a lot to me,” Maya said. “It means everyone is looking up to me and I can’t fail them. They all expect me to lead them and that’s what I’m going to do.”
After dislocating his elbow his sophomore season and failing to advance to state competition his junior year, making it to the final tournament of the year is a big goal for Maya, and he credits others with helping him stay focused.
“The dislocation was discouraging, but my girlfriend was here and my family and friends kept pushing me, they wouldn’t let me give up,” said Maya. “Everyone that has been here for me has helped.”
He’s passing on his experiences to his teammates while still chasing his dreams.
“I’m trying to teach them to never give up, that you are going to have some losses in the way and you’ve just got to keep your head up and keep going,” he said. “That all this is going to lead to state one day and it’s going to feel so great.”
Maya still hasn’t given up playing football or soccer; they’ve just become secondary.
“It’s to get strength, speed and to keep me busy,” said Maya of why he continues the other sports. “I love football; I’ve loved it since third grade, but ever since wrestling came into my life, my passion is wrestling now. Football and soccer are more or less to keep me in shape for when wrestling season comes.”
Maya hopes to continue wrestling after he is done at Grovetown.
“I’m hoping to get a scholarship this year, but if I don’t, then I’ll just go to college and just try to go to a club for wrestling. But I want to keep doing this sport. It’s what I love to do.”