Juma Nathani has had a busy secondary school life. The Grade 12 student is a rising star on the school's wrestling team and is angling for a wrestling scholarship after he headed to Japan this summer to compete with SFU teammates against Japan in an international competition. Though Nathani was already rated one of the top three wrestlers in the province, he says his trip to Japan was nerve-wracking. After a fun ride from Narita airport to Tokyo where the team was staying, he and the rest of the guys set out to practice and train each and everyday.
In the morning, Nathani and his team members would wake up early and go for a run. Then they'd practice their wrestling moves. In the afternoon, following a full day of practice, the wrestlers set out to climb a local mountain (over a thousand steps of pure pain). The climb following his wrestling practice was exhausting enough. The fact that Nathani suffers from a fear of heights only made it that much more tricky.
Evidently the practice paid off. Nathani managed to win his match at the international tournament finishing first despite wrestling against boys two to three years older than him. He says the win has only wet his appetite to go for a wrestling scholarship when he graducates from John Oliver this year.
Administrators at JO say Nathani doesn't just contribute to the school community on the wrestling mat. He also brings a lot to the school community.
"He's just a bundle of positive energy around the halls of John Oliver," says Principal Tim McGreer. "He's got a great work ethic and has thrived here, not only in sports but also academically."
His academic prowess was showcased by a recent nomination to participate as a judge for Artsmart.ca. Nathani and several other Canadian students will be flying to Toronto and then Calgary to judge a series of community minded documentaries in order to determine which will receive funding. He says it is a huge opportunity that he's extremely excited about.
"I'm still waiting for the catch," Nathani jokes.
When he's not on the mat or hitting the books, Nathani spends his spare time busing tables at Top of Vancouver, Vancouver's downtown rotating restaurant. The work keeps him up till 1 AM some school days. But Nathani says he doesn't mind.
He says he's amazed by the success he's had at the school, but it wasn't always this way.
"When I came to the school, I was pretty much a loner and had zero friends," says Nathani. "I was the 'big guy' and no one liked the 'big guy'. Now its all different."