In a world where children need positive examples and connections with adult mentors, Spokane Valley Fire Captain Matt Jorgensen found a place where he could contribute. He became involved in his home community of Deer Park around 19 years ago when he saw a wrestling program in need of volunteers. After volunteering and helping out at the Junior High level Matt became the head coach of the Deer Park High school team.
In those first few years it was very rudimentary. They didn’t have a lot of money for traveling to tournaments or for much training, practice, or camps during the off season. In fact, they would have to pack enough food, load up kids, and fund most of their own off season training.
They spent a lot of time early on creating and building a strong foundation for a program that would become extremely influential in changing the lives of the wrestlers on the team. A success story for many wrestlers includes winning 8 Washington State team Championships, winning 5 seasons in a row at the 2A level, and placing in the top 4 for 13 straight years. Many of these wrestlers have gone on to find success after graduating high school. In recent years two wrestlers have been accepted to the Naval Academy and WestPoint. Both were nominated and accepted by Cathy McMorris-Rodger’s to attend the military academies. Other success stories include a first generation college graduate who became a Forester and at this time, three coaches now on the staff also wrestled for Matt.
These boys are better men from having been a part of this wrestling program in a rural community. They learned incredible work ethics that have supported their ability to obtain further education and jobs. Many businesses in the community will hire these boys because they know if you’re on the Deer Park Wrestling team, you are a worker!
Matt loves the wrestling community that has developed. They have become a strong group that supports everyone. In a time where parents can be competitive and individualistic, these parents come together to support the better good of all the wrestlers. They fund raise now to send boys to camps and they mentor boys that don’t have the best home life or don’t have a father figure at home or in their life. All the coaches realize that coaching is more than moves and technique. They can have a real positive impact on young athletes.
While wrestling season may only be three months long, many of the coaches, wrestlers, and families spend 9 to 10 months a year with these kids. Training, fund raising, going to camps, and keeping them busy in the community takes up a lot of the off season time. Matt tributes his ability to spend this kind of time with the team to his career at the Spokane Valley Fire Department. He says that the department has been incredibly supportive of his work with the wrestling team. He couldn’t do it without that kind of support.
It really hits home how much the wrestlers mean to him during the exhilarating wins and also during the crushing blows of defeat. Matt hopes that being a member of the team helps them understand that what makes a great wrestler also helps with making a great life for yourself. Hard work, dedication, and willingness to help others will make them all great members of any community. Matt hopes that Deer Park wrestlers will leave with great wrestling memories and an understanding that life and wrestling both require hard work to find great success.
This is what it means to be a Spokane Valley Firefighter. They care for the better good of a community. They are natural givers. They want to make the community better for everyone by lifting up those who may or may not have the same opportunities.
We love what Captain Matt Jorgensen does to help the Deer Park community. We are all better citizens by his example.