Patrick Chapman loves a good challenge.
Whether it’s signing up for the school junior varsity wrestling team without any experience — and without telling his parents —or attaining the rank of Eagle Scout, he’s ready to tackle whatever lies ahead.
The 19-year-old Blue Valley North senior doesn’t let Down syndrome stand in the way of any of his goals.
His parents, Dan and Lauren Chapman, were worried that the sport might be too much for their son to handle, but they’re happy to have been proven wrong.
“It’s hard to do, because wrestling is pretty challenging to me,” Patrick said.
Lauren likes the values Patrick learned from his teammates and coaches.
“Even though it’s an individual sport, (the boys are) really close,” she said. “He makes better social connections through sports than other things, because he spends so much time with the same individuals.”
Although Patrick has some additional challenges his teammates don’t, he doesn’t want — and doesn’t get — special treatment.
“Every wrestler several times throughout the year will want to quit, because it’s so grueling,” Dan Chapman said. “Patrick’s had 6 a.m. practices and afternoon practices. They do two-a-day three times a week.”
Patrick likes a match where there’s a lot of back and forth between him and his opponent, Lauren Chapman said, even if he loses.
“Patrick he likes to get points and get in the match. If he gets pinned right away, it’s not fun,” she said.
Through the highs and lows, Patrick’s teammates are there for him.
In a wrestling match meet during his sophomore year, Patrick had to take on four opponents throughout the day. In the first match, he “got beaten pretty decisively, and he was down,” Dan Chapman said. “He had his towel over his head and didn’t want to talk to anyone, and his teammates helped him through it. By the fourth match that day, he won.”
It’s not just a one-way street, though. Patrick’s teammates equally look forward to his support.
“He really brings a lot of liveliness to the team and creates a lot of good humor and positive energy that the team needs,” said senior varsity wrestler Connor Kerth. “He knows when to work hard. He has a great sense of humor and likes to motivate everybody, even the coaches … He really shows that no matter your shape, size or the way God made you, anybody can do anything if they set their mind to it.”
The wrestling team splits into two levels for training. Although Patrick is on the junior varsity team, he trains with the more intense group.
“He’s obviously got his challenges, but he shows up every day and works hard,” said wrestling coach Dylan Hitchcock. “All the wrestlers rally around him. They love watching him wrestle: They’re his biggest fans.”
Patrick wrestled during his sophomore year, took a break for junior year and now is back on the team. He’s also been on the school soccer team.
Hitchcock said he was impressed at how well Patrick “was able to assimilate into the team and go through a regular practice and be one of the guys.”
Wrestling isn’t the only place Patrick shines. With Boy Scout Troop 10 in Leawood, he became an Eagle Scout. Any Scout pursuing this rank must complete many requirements and do a special service project that he organizes. Patrick chose to help Sugar Creek Equinapy, a therapeutic horse riding center.
Previously, Patrick had benefited from the service there. For his project, he organized 15 Scouts and parents to make training bridges that teach horses and riders how to navigate safely.
Patrick received his Eagle award in November. He’s also earned the rank of fire builder in the Tribe of Mic-O-Say, a leadership program at H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation near Osceola, Mo.
His parents have been impressed with the hands-on skills Patrick has mastered as a Boy Scout and the way he mentors younger Scouts when he teaches them first aid and knots.
“As much as Patrick’s learning, I think (that) the kids and adults are learning from people like Patrick,” Dan Chapman said.