Howard High School wrestler Steve Canterbury is a senior tri-captain on a rebuilding team for the second time in his four-year career with the Lions.
His coach, Sean Alkire, said having Canterbury on the team "is like having another coach." And at Howard, the extra help from the seniors is necessary. This season the squad has 15 freshmen, only one of whom had ever wrestled before the day he walked into the Howard gym for tryouts.
Canterbury, 17, wrestles in the 145-pound weight class, carries a 3.9 weighted grade point average and hopes to attend Loyola or the University of Maryland next season.
Though his record this season is 14-16, he might be considered an overachiever: He competes as a diabetic in what might be considered the harshest of varsity sports - where not only strength and ability are important, but self-discipline in terms of diet and weight watching.
The Lion said he has a goal for the rest of the season and has found a special satisfaction in helping to instruct his teammates.
The coach says you're like another coach out there. Is that how you see it?
"That's kind of how it works because we've got so many freshmen and people who haven't wrestled before. You kind of need someone with experience to help. The coach can't coach 20 pairs of kids at the same time. One person can't do it.
"I feel for the coaches and the situation they're in. And it's cool when you're at a match and you're watching a match and you see one of the kids execute something you taught him and actually do it right."
Why did you start wrestling in seventh grade?
"My brother, Andrew, wrestled. He is 3 years older than me. He made it through his freshman year wrestling here, and I thought I'd try it.
"I also play soccer and lacrosse because my brother did. My whole goal is to beat him at every sport he has ever played."
As I understand it, the wrestling program was in pretty bad shape here, so why did you want to wrestle in this program?
"When you hear about the kind of sport it is, it's like what you want to do. You don't have anyone else to blame. It's just you and the other person on the mat, and it's not about how much you know, but how well you do everything.
When we were coming in for this interview, we passed a basketball player eating french fries. You asked if he had a game and he said yes. How do you feel when you see and hear that?
"Disgust. Especially as a wrestler. We have a match tomorrow. I could never do that."
Are you envious?
"Not really. During the wrestling season, I force myself to eat well. I try not to eat any fast food except Chick-fil-A. It's my only exception. I mean it's not worth it to work off all the weight and stuff and then blow it all away with eating bad stuff."
What's the most important lesson wrestling has taught you?
"It teaches you to learn good balance in your life. It's so hard to do school work when you're exhausted. You have to balance practice, matches, eating and homework and I'm a diabetic, so I have to watch what I eat and monitor my blood sugar all the time."
How often do you take a reading?
"If I'm jumpy before a match, I will probably take it every five or 10 minutes. If it's low I drink lots of Gatorade and eat something. That's no fun, because I wind up on the mat full and with a gurgling stomach.
"If it's high, I have to take insulin. I have a pump with a small infusion site. I basically dial up how much and push a button. I've had diabetes since eighth grade."
Do you have a goal for the rest of the season?
"It's the same as every year: to finish well, don't get injured, qualify for the regional tournament [by placing in the top 3 at the Feb. 20-21 county tournament]. It won't be easy. In this county, 145 is a very difficult weight class."
Do you plan to wrestle in college?
"Oh, no. I plan to relax in college. Three sports in high school have been enough."