Two middle school wrestlers are now grade-A heroes after a team captain faced off against a disabled first-timer—and lost.
Justin Kievit, a 12-year-old who captains the middle school wrestling team at Franklin's Freedom Middle School, was tasked last Thursday with competing against an eighth-grader named Jared Stevens—a smart, extroverted 13-year-old who also happens to have cerebral palsy.
Stevens can't walk and hardly has any control over his arms and legs. Most people wouldn’t call him fit for a wrestling mat.
But wrestling is what the Sunset Middle School student wanted to do, so he signed up for his team. This weekend's bout against Kievit was his first-ever match.
It's safe to say that the captain of a wrestling team has a competitive advantage over any newbie, especially one with Stevens’s disability—but if this story were that simple, Sunset wrestling coach Clay Mayes wouldn't be talking about the fact that Kievit has "the kindest heart."
The Freedom captain walked into the ring knowing that he'd throw the match and give Stevens something he never thought he'd receive: an undefeated record and a chance to take down one of the better young wrestlers in Tennessee. Kievit lay down on the mat with his opponent and helped pin himself, shoulder blades square on the floor, for a full three seconds.
When it was over, Kievit's father, who was filming the match, posted the video to Facebook, where it's already attracted more than 100,000 shares.
"It's the bigger message," Stevens's father, Phil, told The Tennessean shortly after the match. "It's about all the people who had to give to make it happen."
Photo via TOCZone/YouTube