Durfee Wrestler Grapples With Austism - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Durfee Wrestler Grapples With Austism

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By Matt Blanchette


Durfee High School sophomore Joe Grinvalsky took hold of the 113 pound spot this season. He runs with his team and he sweats with his team.

He's also autistic. It's a condition that can present mood swings,problems focusing and difficulty interacting with others.

But Joe is using wrestling as a way to copeand excel.

 "It's great. These guys really can help. These guys, this sport has helped me so much with my Autism. I make my family proud, my friends proud. these guys are great to work with honestly," Joe said.

Both Joe's coach and his teammates say they noticed a change in the two years, since he started wrestling...

"When Joe first got here last year we would ask him a question and he would (motions to Joe) show them. Right with the hands. Every answer looked like that.  Now he pretty much, I turn around during practice and he is trying to help some of the freshman along with their moves and what not and he is actually a pretty good coach from what Igather," Durfee coach Chris Antao said.

"He used to be in middle school I would see kids give him trouble, make fun of him or just laugh at him for going into one of his temper tantrums but going into high school he has matured as a person and you see a huge progression since middle school," teammate Austin Jones said.

 Joe is far from average too. He should be a four seed at sectionals this starurday and has a legitimate shot to make the state tournament as a sophomore. Though it takes a little more effort for Joe, he's found a home on the mat.

Said Antao: The moves are a little bit tougher for Joe to grasp and you can tell he struggles with that initially but once he masters the move he remembers it and I don't have to tell him again.

"A lot of practice. a lot of work. especially with my coach helping me and the guys helping me out. i've gotten a whole lot better," Joe said.


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