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Overcoming Adversity with Wrestling



From Florida to Southern Maine: Overcoming Adversity with Wrestling

By Joe Narvaez

Wrestling is one of the toughest sports known to man. From cutting weight to training hard through injuries, the sport is a true test of strength and mental stability. This sport has been one to create adults and all wrestlers are better people because of the sport. It has parallels with many of the challenges we see as human beings, and it prepares us for the challenges we do not see coming, much like that low single attack out of nowhere.

At the University of Southern Maine, Jonathan Deupree has come from being an unknown to a nationally known wrestler in two short seasons. His journey to get here has not been typical, and when he is finished it will be one that many could not have accomplished.

Growing up, Jonathan was faced with the normal challenges of adolescence, but some of his choices caused these challenges to become more difficult. Through all of this, one thing stayed the same, he kept wrestling. After high school he dropped out of college and fell into a hole many never get out of, but he kept wrestling. His poor choices had him associated with friends who were getting killed as members of gangs and who were going to prison. These decisions put Jonathan out on the streets, homeless on his own until he decided to change his life. For some this is called “Rock Bottom” but for Jonathan it was called “A Turning Point.” He made it to Maine for a change of scenery and continued to wrestle at an MMA gym.

That gym is where he met two-time All-American and current Southern Maine assistant coach Mike Morin. Mike had been working out when he noticed that Jonathan was not just an average guy training. The two had a conversation, and Jonathan agreed to apply to Southern Maine to wrestle and complete his studies. Head coach Joe Pistone, along with assistant coaches Mike Morin, Julio Santiago, Joe Narvaez, and Logan Russell, welcomed Jonathan with open arms into the family. They all knew that there was a special individual on hand to help the team win.

The last two seasons Jonathan has dedicated himself to leading a better life which in return has made him a better person. In that short time he has gone from an unknown wrestler to one of the best 184 lbs. wrestlers in the country. Being from Florida, Portland, Maine, is the other side of the coin when it comes to weather, but that did not stop him from making the most of this opportunity. Placing in the Northeast Regional in 2013 gave him a taste of success but winning the Northeast Regional in 2014 was a major step towards accomplishing his main goal. He qualified for the 2014 NCAA Championships and made it to the round of 12, but he has some lofty goals for next year. In wrestling, as is true in life, anything can happen!

After graduation, Jonathan plans to open a transitional home for athletes who need help after they have made poor decisions. Jonathan used wrestling to get back on track, and this transitional home will allow athletes to participate in what they love to do and focus on making the right choices to get back in the mainstream of living as an adult. He plans to start locally but aspires to expand nationally. When you are down by one point with 2 minutes left you have to make the most of that last period to overcome adversity. Jonathan is making the most of that period because wrestling has taught him how to fight, survive and win! The entire University of Southern Maine staff is excited for the 2014-15 Huskies!

Deupree and Staff 2014