Ocoee High junior won an award for his good sportsmanship during a particularly tough match against Lake Nona.
Derek Verhoest, 16, has been wrestling since his freshman year at Ocoee High and recently was presented a sportsmanship award by an opposing coach from Lake Nona High. The award, part of a sportsmanship initiative by Orange County Public Schools, is intended for coaches to recognize students who exemplify leadership, respect and proper mindset for rivalry.
Did winning the sportsmanship award come as a surprise to you?
It kind of came as a surprise because I was just doing whatever I do after matches. That’s what our coach told us to do — just be good sports to everybody else. I try to help people up after matches, so I just didn’t think anything about it.
When did you start wrestling and how did you get into it?
I started my freshman year, and I actually started because of one of my friends, who actually doesn’t wrestle with us anymore because he went into the Marines my freshman year. I used to wrestle around with him, and he was like, “Dude, you should wrestle — you have a lot of heart for it.” I ended up sticking with it — it’s the one sport I actually stuck to.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I guess it would be super speed or super strength because they seem like cool powers to have. They would be really beneficial. You wouldn’t have to have a car jack if you were super strong and don’t need a car if you have super speed.
What’s your favorite part of competing and why?
The one-on-one (match) and being able to go and give it your all. I’m really competitive about everything. My best friend and I both do culinary and wrestling, and we’re competing about everything all the time.
How did you get involved with the culinary program at school?
I started last year, and I did it because I got switched out of a class and they told me I could pick culinary, so I took the last spot in that (class) and just stuck with it. I liked it, and then I started going to Westside Tech and doing it.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“If you’re not first, you’re last.” I like that quote, I have it on a hoodie! My parents printed it for me.
What’s a song you’ve been listening to lately that you really like?
Probably “TNT” by AC/DC, because it’s something I grew up listening to and it gets me pumped up.