For senior wrestler Jaimen Hood, wrestling for family is more than just a bond he shares with his teammates. On top of being a varsity wrestler, Hood has worked outside the home for several years in order to support his family at home.
While many Mason High School students have to grow accustomed to having just one or two siblings, Hood’s single mother got into fostering and adopting children who needed a home, which led to as many as eight children being raised in his house at once.
“Initially we started out with me and my mom and my dad and my three sisters who are all older,” Hood said. “My mom and dad split around when I was five years old. My dad stayed in Indiana for a while and we moved to Mason. My mom raised me and my sisters and then my mom got into fostering and adopted kids so, I couldn’t really count the number, but I’ve had about ten total kids come in and out of my house, three which stayed with us that are adopted so for a while we had seven kids in the house. And then at one point we had eight because we had another foster kid. It has slowly dwindled down as my sisters have gone off to college and moved out and my brother got kicked out. Currently it’s just me and my brothers, Bryan and Zack, and my mom. Bryan is 15 years old and Zack is 19 years old.”
In order to make ends meet and support his mom, Hood said he and his brothers work as much as they can to provide for their family.
“Everybody has a job,” Hood said. “I work at Perkins, and when I can work the hours I work as much as possible, usually about 25 to 30 hours a week, but since it’s wrestling season I only get to work Sundays, but I work a double on Sundays so I can make as much money as possible. My brother (Zack) works at Longhorn and BIBIBOP and my brother Bryan works at Taco Bell”
Former head coach Craig Murnan, who coached Hood in his first three years of high school, said that although he follows a philosophy to treat all his athletes in the same manner, he and the other coaches knew they would have to tackle some hurdles in order to give Hood the same opportunities as the other wrestlers.
“You want to make sure that you recognize that everybody that’s coming to you is different and they have different needs and different backgrounds,” Murnan said. “For us, we recognize that Jaimen’s situation is different than another kid’s on our team and we just try to make sure we give him the opportunities so he can be successful. In order to do anything at a high level, it’s going to cost you some money, because you gotta get exposure and gotta get experience. For wrestling, that’s just entering into camps at times and tournaments. We got him a sponsor once so he could go to a camp with our guys.”
Hood said although he is always busy with wrestling and work and school, his mom encourages him to live a typical life.
“I try to prioritize, because my mom says I am a teenager so I still need to live a high school experience, but I do want to contribute as much as I possibly can,” Hood said. “I wrestle and have practice until about six o’clock every day and then we compete on Saturdays so I try to work a 10:30 to 7:00 shift every Sunday. And then if I’m not wrestling it’s like a 2:30 to 8:00 shift.”
Hood said he and his family follow a mentality that no matter how difficult a task may seem, to persevere and do whatever is needed to be done.
“Since it is pretty tough getting between wrestling and work and doing well in school, you just develop the mentality to just get it done no matter what you have to do,” Hood said. “That’s what my mom has always told me too, because when she was younger she used to work three or four jobs to support her family, and she says family comes before everything so whatever you gotta do, you just do it. Tying it back to wrestling, you get into a hard practice, or you’re in the middle of a tough lift, just figure out a way to get through the lift, figure out a way to get through the practice, just get it done.”
Murnan said Hood is someone he believes other male athletes should look up to as a role model.
“I just think he’s a young, African-American leader,” Murnan said. “He’s a great role model for male athletes in this school. He’s a great role model for people with an ethnic background. He’s a great role model for doing things the right way. He’s a great role model for not making excuses and just overcoming. I think what impresses me the most is that he’s humble, but when you talk to him you can sense a sense of passion. There’s an energy level that you like and are attracted to. He’s got a confidence about him when he speaks, and I recognize that. He’s somebody you want to be around; he’s somebody I’d want my kid to be around. There are lots of engaging things about Jaimen that make him unique, but make him a leader. Sometimes it’s really hard to quantify a leader, sometimes I just know it when I see it, and to me, that’s what I see in him, a humble leader.”