BLUFFTON, S.C. (WSAV) – When you walk into the Reverence Wrestling Club, you’ll notice a few motivational quotes on the wall.
“We try to build work ethic, fairness, integrity, [and] focus,” Blake Maffei, the found and instructor at Reverence Wrestling Club said.
Santiago Rueda, a member of the club and of May River’s wrestling team, exemplifies all the qualities Maffei looks for in a wrestler.
“Wrestling just looked fun,” Rueda said. “Being able to beat up on somebody on the mat.”
While it looked fun, that’s not what got Rueda into the sport. Rueda chose to wrestle after seeing his brother become a part of the team and gain a second family. Later, he found out about the opportunities the sport would provide him.
Rueda sees wrestling as a way to help his family, who came to the United States from Mexico.
“I haven’t been [to Mexico] because it’s a little different than America,” Rueda said. “It’s a little dangerous sometimes.”
Rueda would be the first person in his family to be born in the United States, and at 16 years old he has another great opportunity in front of him.
“So my goal is to wrestle in college,” Rueda said. “Not quite sure yet where, but my goal is to be an All-American and put my name on some boards in the college room.”
Rueda could be the second person in his family to attend college, and his dream to wrestle at the collegiate level is not absurd. Through five years of competition, Rueda won 40 matches and only lost two.
“Santiago [Rueda] is the full package,” Maffei said, “He’s a very smart athlete. He studies very hard [and] he’s an honors student.”
Rueda seems to be doing everything he possibly can to turn his dreams into a reality, and it all started with his family.
“They always tell me how they came here with a dream cause it’s called the dreamland,” Rueda said. “They always tell me what they risked and sacrificed a bunch of things, and they just me to be the best person I can be… to follow my dreams.”