Student sets his sight, hopes on college wrestling team
by Steven Savage
Some have said being able to see and having no vision in life is worse than being blind. A UALR student is using his disability as a way to push himself to work harder than those around him and start an organization on campus. Anything junior Eric Yarberry may lack due to his inability to see he compensates for through self-determination and passion to accomplish his goals.
Yarberry is a blind student that started the first UALR wrestling club. The metropolitan university currently does not have a wrestling team in its athletic department. Yarberry said he decided to create the organization because it is a sport he is passionate about and would like to see flourish as an intramural sport at UALR.
“Wrestling is growing as a sport in the state of Arkansas, and we would just like to build the wrestling atmosphere into affordable universities,” Yarberry said. “Since I am visually impaired, catching a football or hitting a baseball were never things I got to enjoy.”
Students do not need to have any wrestling experience to join, but if they do, that would be a big help to beginners. Yarberry said he welcomes anyone who is willing to learn and share their wisdom about the sport.
At the first interest meeting, Yarberry said many people were “hesitant to stop and ask questions, but once they realized the club would require no experience, and starts fall semester, they were excited to join.”
Yarberry plans to have wrestling practice twice a week. “I want the club to be for those who want to get in and stay in shape,” Yarberry said. “I would like to fill all fourteen weight classes within the club that way we can look forward to competing against clubs in neighboring states.” Weight classes are divisions of competition used to pit competitors against someone their own size.
Yarberry said the road to building a club from the ground up was tough, but support from family, friends and faculty kept him going.
“The staff is generally pleased to see a new club on the horizon,” Yarberry said. “My family and friends knew that I would be the one to start a wrestling club somewhere. UALR just happened to be the place.”
Access consultant of the disability resource center Reed Claiborne advised him through the process of getting his organization started. He had experience with starting a sports club during his college years and was happy to help Yarberry.
“You could tell Eric missed wrestling from high school and wanted to continue it here, so he enthusiastically did the research and we found an organization that was willing to give us some information to make the club into an intramural sport,” Claiborne said. “I think it’s going to be good for UALR to keep students productive in a program that could spread to other schools. It’s too early to tell, but I think what he is setting out to accomplish is going to be great.”
Yarberry has wrestled for fifteen years, he said. He earned three Arkansas State titles and made All-American in the Brute Adidas Nationals in Independence, Mo. He was born and raised in Little Rock, but currently calls Des Arc his home. He is studying English with an emphasis in creative writing. After college, he plans to attend law school.
If you are interested in joining the UALR Wrestling Club, email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.