Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Virginia wrestler to compete in 2022 Deaflympics

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – Living in Stafford, coaching at Louisa County High School, and sometimes training at the University of Virginia, Roger Stewart is on a mission to not only win gold for the United States, but to grow deaf sports in the commonwealth.

“I accept who I am, and I’m just here to teach and pay it forward to other people,” Stewart said.

Born premature, Stewart has struggled with hearing his entire life. While his disability makes him eligible for the Deaflympics, Stewart still had to earn his right to grapple with best the world has to offer.

“It doesn’t matter who you are,” he said. “Anyone can get what they believe in, so believe in yourself and just go chase it because no one else can tell you no or yes.”

Stewart isn’t a stranger to competing on the world stage; he wrestled in the 2005 Deaflympics, but only returned home with the title of Olympian. Come May 2022, he plans to leave Brazil with more than that.

“All I want is at the end of the day I’m satisfied and I’m happy and I feel good and I’m ready to go get that gold medal,” Stewart said.

Even though hearing is a challenge for Stewart, he wants others to listen to the issues facing the deaf community in sports.

“Why not tell the deaf people, especially young kids, ‘Hey, it’s OK to come out of the box. You can still continue playing other sports no matter if you’re deaf blind paraplegic?’” Stewart said.

“He’s in it for all the right reasons,” UVA Wrestling Associate Head Coach Travis Paulson said. “He wants to give back, he wants to impact people, he’s got great work ethic, and he’s going to do special things.”

Off the mat, Paulson is one of Stewart’s best friends.

“He’s got all the tools,” he said. “He’s got the ability, and so as long as he doesn’t go out there thinking he’s the guy, but he goes out there knowing he’s the guy, he’ll do great.”

“You have to have a dream, you have to have a plan. So just go out there, write the goals down, make it happen,” Stewart said.

Stewart says his journey to the Deaflympics is all self-funded, creating financial difficulties for his family. His fiancé has created a gofundme page to help him pay for the expenses related to training, as well as travel to the Deaflympics.

Click here for a link to the gofundme.

Copyright 2021 WVIR. All rights reserved.

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