Photo Credit: An Uong
By: Victor Garcia
Imagine moving from a little town of around 9,000 people in Colorado to a comparatively bustling metropolis of 200,000 and then becoming the team captain of a team that has never before existed on campus.
In 2010, Abraar Khan (’12) moved to Glendale from Delta, Colorado and became the captain of the newest and fastest growing team on campus – wrestling.
Khan started his affair with sports in eighth grade when he started playing on the boys’ basketball team as post and point guard.
“My self-esteem boosted big time [while playing sports] so I thought ‘why not try wrestling?’” Khan said.
He began wrestling for the Delta team that year, but did not continue into his freshman year because he wanted to focus on school. However, he continued in cross country so he could stay conditioned for track season.
This came as a great surprise to his former wrestling coach Luis Meza who still teaches at Delta High.
“He was [one] heck of a kid,” Meza said. “He was always one of my favorites to have in class.”
When he came to school last year, Khan was surprised that there wasn’t a wrestling team so he created the short-lived weightlifting club. When he discovered that coach and social science teacher Mark Betteti was planning to start a wrestling team, he was one of the first to sign up.
Khan’s typical day starts with him getting up at five in the morning and beginning a light workout at home that consists of mostly weightlifting that targets different body parts. He then spends even more time after school in sports such as wrestling and track.
“I come home exhausted after whatever practice I happened to finish that day,” Khan said. “I try to do my homework until 11 but I sometimes just end up passing out at 9.”
Aside from being the captain of the wrestling team, he is also involved in other sports. Khan ran cross-country both his freshman and sophomore years, and has also been in track since his freshman year in which he participates in field events such as discus and shot put.
All in all, the biggest time consumer for Khan is being wrestling captain.
“It was a little overwhelming at first.” Khan admitted, “I thought I wasn’t right for the position.”
Khan had to consider balancing the responsibility of being captain with his classes, but with a lot of coaxing from Bitetti, he decided to become captain.
“He is very mature,” Bitetti said. “Abraar is a great leader; I think he’s a wonderful influence on the [other] kids.”
Whenever he is in front of the team he says he feels as if he has to push himself to do his best because if he didn’t he “wouldn’t be able to define what the limit would mean for the rest of the team.”
Khan said that he feels personally responsible for the future of the team because he wants the wrestling program to become more than just a sports team, and wants his teammates to not only be great athletes and students but to be good citizens as well.
He also tries his hardest to be a role model for the players by excelling in class and by doing his best on the mat so he pushes his team to be the best they can.
“I have to always set the example,” Khan said. “I have to control my composition in times of stress so the team knows what sort of behavior is expected.”
Khan’s parents Mustafa “Mark” Khan and Nadira Begum have been very supportive of their son’s interest in sports. Khan is the only person in his family that was ever allowed to play in a contact sport because his parents trust his judgment that he will not be hurt during practices or spars.
“When I come home with a mat burn on my face, busted lip or even a bruise my mom always gets very scared.” Khan said. “She trusts that I will be able to take care of myself.”
However, Khan has had his share of injuries, one of them being that he tore his rotator cuff, a group of muscles that are located in the shoulder.
It still hurts him when he uses it too much. Nevertheless, he is glad to have been spared the injuries his seen others get such as broken noses, dislocated shoulders, blackouts and worse.
Mark says that he is proud that his son turned out to be so athletic.
“It’s good that he does all those sports,” he said. “I encourage him because he is so self-conscious and sports help him get his mind off of it.”
The team is proud that they can call someone like Khan as their captain. They are even more grateful to have someone like him on the team guiding them.
“He encourages us and shows us that some can be an athlete and still get good grades,” Roman Acosta (’14) said.
Photo Credit: An Uong