The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School

CavsConnect

The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School

CavsConnect

The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School

CavsConnect

Wrestler and Runner: Ziad Kamal Reaches his Goals with a Purpose

This rejuvenated upperclassmen is tackling two sports at Gables
Flexing+for+the+camera%2C+Kamal+remembers+the+steps+he+took+in+order+to+become+a+successful+athlete.+
Linus Boettcher
Flexing for the camera, Kamal remembers the steps he took in order to become a successful athlete.

Although barriers have and will continue to be placed in front of student-athletes, it only fuels the fire to accomplish the improbable. Junior Ziad Kamal embraces his difficult moments, whether it be during track workouts or combatting his opponent’s skills on the mat. 

Raised in a tightly connected home, Kamal is originally from Cairo, Egypt. He vividly remembers the dry atmosphere of the city as well as the communal building in which his friends and family lived. The need to stay involved with boys his age translated into Kamal joining athletics. 

“Cairo is way different than Miami by the people [and the] attachment you have with them. The only thing similar about them is people complaining about the weather,” junior Ziad Kamal said. 

At a very young age, Kamal played soccer with his friends on the outskirts of the city; they played for a local soccer club called Mataria. When he was 9 years old, Kamal moved to the U.S., carrying his athletic background with him. 

The cross-country team warms up for their Spanish River Invitational race. Kamal ran a personal record of 18 minutes and 53 seconds during this race. (Lucia Ruiz)

“Training [in Cairo] was hard because the buildings don’t cover the fields. Me and my friends went training together all the time,” junior Kamal said. 

Kamal attended Ponce de Leon Middle School before coming to Coral Gables Senior High. His nostalgic love for soccer is what propelled him to try out for the team as a freshman. Unfortunately, he did not make the varsity squad. 

“I mostly wanted to try out because of the passion I had for [soccer] since I was young but I took a lot of time off to get back into it,” junior Kamal said. 

Months after the tryout, Kamal met wrestling coach Thomas Hardy, one morning on the basketball courts. The coach noticed his size and showed him the wrestling room, where his team practiced daily. Dedicated to learning the moves, Kamal established his presence among the team during the off-season of his freshman year. 

Clinging on to his second-place medal, Kamal poses after wrestling other competitors in the district. (Courtesy of Ziad Kamal)

Once the wrestling season was in action, Kamal trained multiple hours of day, usually from 2:30 p.m. to around 5:00 p.m. He enjoyed perfecting moves like the sweep and another tactic called the double leg sweep. To practice these techniques, Kamal partook in live practices, in which the top wrestlers faced each other.

A normal Gables wrestling practice commences with warm-up drills and stretches. Subsequently, wrestlers get right into the action, practicing their moves. Kamal used this time to perfect his craft and apply the advice of a more experienced wrestler. 

“Ziad is one of the hardest workers, always doing extra running or whatever it takes. He is very enthusiastic as he is always cheering, cracking jokes, or overall boosting team moral. He’s a good person to be around,” junior Damian Morera said.

Pursuing his ambitions for the future, Kamal’s goal is to reach states, both individually and with the Gables team. Next year, Kamal hopes to become a team captain.

“I learned from wrestling that not everything is going to hurt you, there are different types of pain and pain can push me through practice as well as, help me improve. Also, my coaches are awesome, they teach me how to make the right decisions and make sure we stay safe,” junior Kamal said.

Another compliment to Kamal’s sports journey is running cross-country.

Embracing his teammate, Kamal retells his race, in full detail. (Lucia Ruiz)

The Cavalier joined because coach Michel Fotso watched him run track during one practice, focusing on his endurance while running laps. Coach Fotso pulled him aside after practice, suggesting he should run cross-country the following year.   

Kamal has attended practices since September and is currently a varsity runner. Although speed is the most challenging aspect of running, Kamal views track workouts as a way to manifest himself and improve his splits a little bit every time. 

So far, Kamal’s record for a 5-kilometer race is 18 minutes and 27 seconds. After every meet, Kamal congratulates his teammates to keep up team morale. His ultimate goal is to attend states with the team and run as fast as his legs can carry him. 

“Ziad is a dedicated, hardworking, and very focused runner, who always wants to improve. He was an outsider that hadn’t had much experience running. [Now he is] among the top six runners of the team, a height of some veterans that have been here for a year or a couple of years,” cross-country coach Michel Fotso said.

Through both wrestling and cross country, Kamal has overcome mental obstacles to reach his goals. Both sports have bettered him as an athlete not only in the physical sense but also in that he surpasses the physical limitations placed on his body. 

“My main reason to run and wrestle is not about others. I want to see how far I can go. I hear thousands of stories about how a champion overcame adversity…well, maybe I could be that champion,” junior Kamal said.

To catch Kamal in his next race, the cross country team will be running state finals on Nov. 17. Once the fall season concludes, Kamal will shift to the mat, taking down opponents with stern force once more. 

About the Contributors
Barbara Teixeira, CavsConnect Staff Writer
Barbara Teixeira or Barb, as most people call her, is a sophomore in the International Baccalaureate program. Barbara joined CavsConnect to further her love of writing and to be able to bring her perspective to the Cavaliers through writing. She loves talking, so much that she speaks four languages. What seems like an advantage often gets her in trouble in class for talking to her friends too much. Barbara loves traveling, surfing in her hometown Rio de Janeiro and listening to music. Some things on Barbara's bucket list are backpacking around the world, seeing Frank Ocean live and getting 300 community service hours before graduation.
Andres Rodriguez, CavsConnect Sports Editor

Andres Rodriguez is a junior and retains the title of CavsConnect Sports Editor. Studying in the International Baccalaureate program, Andres is looking forward to this year for many reasons. He runs for the boys cross country team and is focused on breaking 19 minutes and 15 seconds for a five kilometer race. His Catholic faith, family and teammates are what drives him in his races or casual runs whenever he has time. On campus, Andres is also part of the International Baccalaureate Honor Society and the National Spanish Honor Society boards. As far as extracurricular events, Andres hopes to attend pep rallies and possibly Homecoming. The IB classes and assessments will be time consuming but Andres still intends to hangout with friends, volunteer at mass and take his dog, Max, on more walks. Some skills Andres wants to refine are driving and cooking. Finally, Andres continues to embody this Bible verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” -Philippians 4:13. 

 
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