For the first time in 40 plus years, Vanguard University has a wrestling team. Gabriel Cortez is a freshman and current student-athlete on the team. However, the life of a wrestler is not an easy one.
According to Cortez, the wrestler’s day begins early. The alarm goes off at 5 a.m. for a cold shower and then practice at 6 a.m.
As soon as practice starts, wrestlers engage in an intense 30 minutes of competitive “live” wrestling matches, according to Cortez. Live wrestling matches are high-intensity wrestling matches with both participants putting in full effort. After this, the team will begin high-intensity conditioning.
“After practice, we pray, take a shower, and get back to our dorms,” Cortez said.
Although wrestlers finish their initial practice before 8 a.m., the daily regimen of a wrestler has only just begun.
After having gone to practice, Cortez typically heads over to the Café where he will grab breakfast. The typical breakfast Cortez eats consists of some protein and a low amount of carbs.
“I try not to eat too much, around a cup of food. I try to eat protein and a tiny bit of carbs. In the morning, I’ll eat a spoonful of eggs and potatoes, or I’ll get a slice of bread. That is my breakfast,” Cortez said.
According to Cortez, he wrestles in the 141 weight class and must maintain a very narrow weight range to qualify to wrestle in that specific class.
“I only eat two meals a day because I have to keep my weight down. If I eat more, I’ll have to exercise more,” Cortez said.
According to Cortez, his goal is to eat low calories and burn more low calories. In addition to eating less than 1,000 calories a day, Cortez will also go on a three-mile run after dinner. This intense regiment leaves one feeling exhausted at the end of each day.
Because wrestling is a high commitment sport, each day must be rigidly scheduled to accomplish homework assignments, maintain good grades, and set aside space to spend time with friends, according to Cortez.
“I try to keep my days as scheduled as I can. I will pick a time where I can hang out with friends, [so] it doesn’t interfere with my wrestling. I have all my work done so I have an open space where I can just hangout. For studying, I dedicate around three hours a day for getting all my work done [and] meeting up with people for projects and presentations. It is basically dedication. We are here to learn–it is for academics to get our scholarship. Wrestling is number two, grades number one,” Cortez said.
This regiment is not new to Cortez. Cortez has wrestled since he was three years old. Due to this long amount of time he has wrestled, the sport has become a significant part of his identity and has largely shaped his values. One of these is a work ethic.
“I guess [wrestling] really shaped my dedication to something that I put my mind to and how hard I should be working. Wrestling really helped with my work ethic,” Cortez said.
Although Cortez’s day involves intense exercise, dieting, and a regimented schedule daily, there are several things Cortez will do to rest, recover, and rewind. These relaxation activities include reading a good book, taking a nap, and watching Netflix, according to Cortez.
Wrestling is not easy. The dedication to the sport, however, has come with benefits, and has been impactful in shaping character and providing a strong community, Cortez explained.
“Wrestling also helped me with respect and humility. You cannot be a good wrestler and not know how to be humble because sooner or later you are going to lose a match,” Cortez said.
Wrestling has also given Cortez a close-knit community.
“Wrestling helped me with family. Everyone knows everyone in the wrestling community. So you talk to people and get to know people. It’s a really great link that we all have,” Cortez said.
The life of a wrestler is not easy. Be sure to support Cortez and the wrestling team for all their hard work and effort at the home matches hosted here in the Pit.