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The Student Newspaper of Hopkins School

Wonderful Wrestler: Jonathan Leite

Amir McFerren’24 Assistant Sports Editor
Although he had some experience in combat sports before, it wasn’t until he came to Hopkins that Johnny Leite ‘23 began wrestling.
He said, “I participated in jiu jitsu during elementary school, and my teacher encouraged me to try wrestling at Hopkins. I joined in seventh grade with Mr. Sperling and spent some time with the Varsity team after school since the [Junior School] team was small.” 

Leite now serves as co-captain of the team with Charlie Fisher ‘23. As captain, he said, “I strive to guide the wrestlers and be a role model for them with my dedication, solid work ethic and positive attitude. I hope to help instill a feeling of togetherness, like a family, throughout the season.”  Coach Adam Sperling said, “He is a great leader and has everyone working hard.  He’s doing a really nice job of setting an example to the younger guys on the team.” 

Fisher said that Leite “is especially talented at motivating our team during our runs, shouting military cadence to keep everyone on pace and together.” He continued, “Johnny is more vocal than me; he vocally motivates us on our runs and calls out the order of exercises during our warm ups.”

Teammate Soren Ekstrom ‘24 said, “Johnny applies his Naval Academy training to a lot of the stuff we do in practice. He pushes us as well as lifts us up. He can joke around with us but also become serious when needed to keep our workouts on track.” Teammate Jonathan Brooks ‘24 said, “​​There are two types of leaders, one that leads with orders, and one that leads by example. Johnny is the latter.... Every newcomer is treated the same as the rest of the team, with the same high expectations.”

When asked about wrestling competitions, Leite said “They are very nerve-wracking. I know that with one wrong move you can go from being on top and in control to losing the match in a second. I try to go in confident, but not too confident and always try to stay a move or two ahead of my opponent. It is a mental game in addition to strength and skill. Not losing your cool is key.” He continued, “One of the main challenges of wrestling is that you are alone on the mat and it is just you and your opponent. Although your coach is in the corner providing guidance, it is up to you to make the moves, stay strong and keep pushing.”

Fisher said that “Johnny is an agile and active wrestler. In practice he speeds through drills, always completing more repetitions than everyone else. His dexterity and stamina not only shine through in practice but during matches where he pushes the tempo and makes his opponent pay for not being able to match his pace.” Ekstrom said, “Last year I was his partner for the majority of the practices and even though I had outweighed him by 20 pounds, I would still get beat time and time again. He is nimble and has impressive stamina.” Brooks said, “His skill is apparent even to people who have never watched wrestling.” Leite said, “My personal goal is to qualify for New Englands and then Nationals along with helping the wrestlers, especially some of the newer ones, to improve and qualify for states and, hopefully, New Englands. I qualified for the New England tournament last year and feel that Nationals may be within my reach this year.” Leite plans to wrestle at the college level next year.

Fisher encapsulated Leite’s leadership: “On our third run of the season, Johnny began singing Jodies [military cadence chants]. Johnny would chant one line and the team would then echo him. While we were all underdressed and the wind stung against our face, Johnny’s chanting made us forget our woes. With the whole team synchronized in chant, I felt a strong sense of unity and joy come over us all.
Editor in Chief 
Melody Cui

Managing Editor 
Riley Foushee

Evie Doolittle
Aanya Panyadahundi
Sam Cherry
Sophie Denny
Anya Mahajan
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