news-category: Black History Month Profile

Wrestler Jha’Quan Anderson Wants to Inspire Others On and Off the Mat

a collage of photos featuring a black male student wrestling and working at Starbucks

Graduate Student Plans a Career in Strength Coaching

By Isabella Brown, ’24, Intern for University Communications

Jan’Quan Anderson

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—“I want to be an example,” asserted Jha’Quan Anderson, a graduate student and wrestler at Gardner-Webb University. During the 2022-2023 wrestling season, Anderson finished with more than 20 wins and made his second appearance in the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. Recently, he was named Southern Conference Wrestler of the Month and celebrated his 20th win for this season.

Anderson, of Conyers, Ga., aspires to share with others the life-changing impact wrestling has had on him, and he wants to equip athletes to succeed both on and off the mat. He relates his story in celebration of Black History Month. During the month, Gardner-Webb will highlight several students who are making a difference on campus and in their communities. Through their creative passions and leadership skills, these students honor their heritage and encourage others to achieve their dreams.

Anderson is working on a Master of Science in strength and conditioning. Upon graduation, he hopes to pursue a career in strength coaching. “The master’s program is really rigorous and prepares us for anything we have coming in our careers,” he affirmed. “I am well prepared because of my professors.”

From the first time he stepped onto a wrestling mat, he knew he would be staying in the sport for the long run. “I started wrestling in middle school, when I was 13.” Anderson recounted, “Football season had just ended, and the wrestling coach came up to me and said, ‘Hey, you should try wrestling!’ I told him, ‘I don’t know. Wrestling is not for me’. And he responded, ‘Come to one practice. If you don’t like it you can leave.’ So, I thought, alright I’ll do that.”

To Anderson, wrestling is more than just a sport, and the community aspect is something he appreciates to this day. “One of the reasons I stuck with wrestling is because I felt like it was more of a family,” he expressed. “It felt like a brotherhood.”

During Black History Month, Anderson remembers the athletes who have reshaped the world of sports by bringing people together regardless of their differences. These men and women carved a path for the future generations of athletes who would make their mark on the world. “Lebron James, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, Lamar Jackson, they are all people who broke down barriers and walls in sports and in spaces that probably weren’t meant for us when they first started,” he explained. “Being able to break down those barriers is really important. They should really be celebrated.”

Anderson is hopeful that more conversations will be had about these topics in the future. He believes that it’s critical to learn about each other and gain perspective. “These conversations should be happening outside the month, as well,” he asserted. “Our history is an everyday event.”

When thinking about who inspired him most during his athletic journey, Anderson shares that it was American professional wrestler, Jordan Burroughs. “I’ve been watching him since I started wrestling. He’s one of the greatest wrestlers to have ever lived.” Anderson continued, “I like to think I have a similar wrestling style. I like to watch him wrestle and emulate that.”

A wrestler with dreams that go beyond the mat, Anderson believes that perseverance is key. “Keep going,” he encouraged, “and you can break down these barriers and do things people think you might not necessarily be able to do. You can do hard things. You can get it done.”

Writer Isabella Brown is a senior English Major.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.

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