PLAISTOW, NH (CBS) – A New Hampshire teen has become an inspiration for his teammates.
Andrew Strzykalski is a 15-year-old freshman at Timberlane High School in Plaistow, NH and he is the first athlete with Down syndrome to join the school’s championship wrestling team.
“I love being on the team,” Andrew said. “I love the enthusiasm.”
Andrew is doing one of the things he loves most, wrestling with his friends and preparing for the upcoming match.
Having Down syndrome is a challenge, but for Andrew it’s not an impediment.
Andrew wrestles during home meets against a teammate and has also taken on another special needs athlete from a different school.
“It’s sent our kids a message that what’s most important about our sport isn’t just the winning, it’s the participation and what you get out of it as an individual,” said Coach Barry Chooljian.
The Timberlane wrestling squad is among the elite in New Hampshire having won 21 state championships over the last 22 years.
Andrew is learning from the best and they’re learning from him.
“He’s not letting his disability get in the way of his success and that’s really motivating to me,” said teammate Brian Lonergan.
Andrew was inspired to join the team because his older brother is also a wrestler. He is at home on the mat where he’s not only accepted, he’s respected.