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A Palomar Wrestler’s Life On and Off the Mat

Now that Palomar sports have been canceled, it is taking a toll mentally and physically with these athletes. We often forget how much sports mean to people. They can be the player’s only time to connect with others, stay fit or could be the reason why some are driven to tackle the day. One athlete that missed his season was Palomar College Wrestler Juan Diaz.

Diaz is a busy man. He works the graveyard shift at his job at Jif-Pak Manufacturing in Vista, Calif. They specialize in the netting and casings for meat and poultry. He goes in at midnight and leaves at 7 a.m.

“Work doesn’t take too much out of me so I go to the gym after I stay awake for a while longer to get classwork done or run the errands,” Diaz said over text. He then repeats that process over the next day.

Sports were a big reason why Diaz is at Palomar.

“Sports contributed a lot to me going to college, I started late but had early success, eventually got hooked,” Diaz said. He knew however that sports can also provide other opportunities.

With the pandemic being over a year in and sports just now being able to start a season, Diaz was still able to find time to wrestle at home.

“My athletic life wasn’t really affected besides the fact that my season was canceled. I was able to practice with my younger brother at home where we have a mat,” he said.

On the academic side, Diaz admitted it was a little “weird” but he adjusted well to his environment. He saw the bigger picture during COVID-19.

“I know there are bigger things than my athletic career that are at stake and I want to contribute as much as I can to keep everyone safe and get rid of the virus,” Diaz said.

His coach Brody Barrios said he trained Diaz since his senior year of high school at Orange Glen. “Dedicated and enthusiastic to learn,” are a couple of words Barrios uses to describe Diaz.

Through the three years of knowing Diaz, one of Barrios’s favorite memories was that “he had a really good finish to the season and showed improvement on the areas we had been focusing on the whole season.”

Diaz has had patience through the pandemic when it comes to picking his next college to transfer to. He has not picked out a future college yet but does plan on it soon. As for sports, this is a love that he found by being a Comet.

“If we get to do sports soon, then I will continue to pursue that,” Diaz said.

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