Class 2A wrestling champion Gerald Roger (132). GREGG HARDY/CSI
Editor’s note: CollierSportsInsider is seeking Collier County high school students who want to do question-and-answer interviews with local student-athletes. If interested, email email@example.com.
Question: Who is Golden Gate High School’s first and only state wrestling champion?
Answer: Gerald Roger.
The Titans senior, who didn’t begin to wrestle until his freshman year, has been a source of school pride since he was crowned Class 2A’s champion in the 132-pound weight class on March 9.
“For us being a 15-year-old program and not having a state champ, to finally get that accomplishment was huge for us,” said Golden Gate wrestling coach Edwin Rey, who helped guide Roger to a 54-1 record this season. “Everybody starts wrestling when they’re 5 (years old) now. State champs are pretty much (won by) those guys that have been wrestling forever. The way (Roger) picked it up, it was amazing.”
Rey said there were a few lessons Roger had to learn as a freshman, but he took his lumps and ended his first season by reaching the district finals unseeded. His wrestling career took off as a sophomore when he made it to states, and he’s been dominant ever since.
Just a few weeks away from receiving his diploma, Roger took time to answer questions posed by Golden Gate journalism student Thais Casasola about his life on and off the wrestling mat.
What is your main motivation for doing athletics? I actually have two. My first initial reason for doing sports is to have motivation to go to school and work hard to keep my grades up; many people lose reason to put forth effort towards academics, but sports really keep me involved. Secondly, I really like to set goals that many people may not believe I am capable of doing, and once I set a goal I strive to give 110 percent in order to get it done.
What do you enjoy most about wrestling? I really love the environment to be honest. Of course it is a very hard sport, but the family and friends that you build a bond (with), and, on top of that, the feeling of always having to work harder than other athletes, never gets old.
Do you consider your state win your biggest accomplishment in athletics Yes indeed, it was a goal I set my freshman year before even knowing what a state champion was. I soon learned it after falling short two years in a row and finally coming out on top.
What do you think is your greatest weakness? My greatest weakness is myself. Mentally, I have to have support from the team, and I am definitely a case with my coaches when it comes to mental support for the physical labor required in wrestling.
How do you handle the stress and pressure that comes with wrestling Often I always think of how it will benefit me in my matches and in my future. The pain is only temporary and it’ll pay off later. To top that off, I always hang out with my teammates and we make the grind fun!
What excites you the most about wrestling? I love the thrill of big matches — those close matches where you capitalize on your opponents and really show that you’ve worked your butt off is unmatched!
Will you continue with this sport as your career? I do have quite a few (college) offers and I’m considering it, but I’m also considering other things.
Do you listen to a certain kind of music while you work out or pre-game? if so, what kind or artist? Always. I am always switching up my genres from country to rap and sometimes I need a little rock and roll to switch it up.
What are some of your hobbies? I love video games, (other) sports like lacrosse and eating.
How do you feel about your teammates? I love them to death. They are basically my family and I definitely try to give them my all to make sure they meet their goals as well.
Favorite TV show? One Punch Man! A cartoon/anime show where the main character defeats everyone in one punch. It’s quite amazing.
Favorite home cooked meal? I love my mom’s chicken, shrimp and broccoli pasta.
Favorite fast food spot? McDonald’s. Sausage egg and cheese McMuffin, small caramel frappe, hash brown and a cinnamon melt.
Your toughest opponent? Nicholas Vugman (a senior at Bartram Trail) — my semifinals match at the state tournament, (the) most unorthodox wrestler I’ve faced.
It took Golden Gate 15 years to get its first state wrestling championship. Fifteen years from now, how many state champions do you think Golden Gate will have? I truly believe we were the start of a generation of champions for Golden Gate High School. In 15 years from now I can see at least eight new state champions, including three (or) four repeaters.
Follow CSI on Twitter at @239CSI or like CSI on Facebook at facebook.com/CollierSportsInsider.