NaKoda Siegel, an incoming freshman at Campbell University (projected to compete at 174 lbs) from Colstrip high in Montana, had to go through quite a bit to get to the top.
On October 19th, 2018 during the last football game of the season, NaKoda suffered a complete ACL tear along with a minor MCL tear in his left knee. As one of the states top prospects, this was not ideal for his career.
He debated getting surgery, but decided he wanted to wrestle his senior year and asked if it was okay with the coaches at Campbell University, who said it was okay with them.
If that wasn’t enough adversity during a senior season, on December 27th, just after Christmas, NaKoda was struck with more news that would forever change his life. His 17 year old cousin who he was closest with had passed away in a car accident that day.
He didn’t spend time feeling sorry for himself and ended up competing for the first time this season until his knee slid out twice and swelled up to the size of a softball. He lost in the finals of that tournament 5-7. He had to get the knee drained the following Monday, and ended up competing again the next Tuesday. That Tuesday, he ended up wrestling the same kid he got beat by, but was able to turn things around and come out with the win 10-4.
In February, NaKoda won his sectional, and proceeded to win his state bracket in dominating fashion (making this his 2nd state title). The following Tuesday after the state championships, he ended up finally getting the surgery he needed for his ACL and MCL and has been doing rehab ever since. Quite an incredible example of someone who really had to keep going as life threw many obstacles in his way this past year. He also helped his team with the Team State Championship Title.
Below I asked NaKoda some questions:
What were your initial thoughts when you tore your ACL?
NaKoda: “When it tore I just muttered “no” about 100,000 times. Tried to keep positive thoughts. “
Why didn’t you get surgery right away, weren’t you worried it could get worse or heal poorly?
NaKoda: “Initially that was the plan, then I looked around at my team, some of the other guys had injuries and we were the favorites to win state, so I held off surgery. Plus I didn’t like the idea of not wrestling period, for a whole year headed into college. Also, I hated the fact that I was going to be known as another “Senior Sob Story” because my knee injury and I was going to be put out all year. I didn’t want to let this injury win the battle in a way, I wanted to fight it back. You can morph your pain into whatever you choose it to be. Honestly, no, not once was I worried. The amount of times I prayed I was confident that no other damage would be done. “
When your cousin passed away, how was your family able to get through those tough times?
NaKoda: “I honestly have no idea. A lot of us, I assume, are still struggling with the fact that he’s gone. Losing Kaden like that, so sudden and without cause is devastating. No one should get immune to losing someone, but we all came together and supported one another. We had people reach out to our family and me, we had t-shirts made and people/wrestlers bought a shirt and repped it during state. I’m glad the Currier family has that kind of support in Montana.”
Did the loss of your cousin motivate you throughout in the remainder of the season?
NaKoda: “I think I had plenty of motivation already, but when they happened, it was trying to leave me at that point. Focusing was harder now during practices and tournaments, but at the end of the day I was forced to turn that pain into reason. I realized why I held off surgery. That state tourney was strictly for Kaden. “
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned this year?
NaKoda: “The biggest lesson I learn this year was the reminder that tragedy, adversity, and pain is inevitable. It is going to happened eventually and for me some of it happened my senior year of high School. But its all about how you carry yourself after that. After it has taken it course. I like to think that I handled it as best as I could, and that you have to take your blows on the chin and handle them like a man. Theres worse things in life than tearing an ACL.”
How have you grown as a person since being able to push through all of the adversity this past season?
NaKoda: “I was forced to mature quickly because if you just sit and wallow in that pity you’ll die in there, so I was forced to change and get stronger mentally. My mentality had to switch from wrestling to getting healthy as quick as possible. I had to realize the reality that I was going to have to accept a brief 5 month pause in my wrestling career. That was difficult for me, but I had a lot of help along the way, family, coaches, and especially Jesus. Without those people it would have been a lot more difficult.”
“Chilli Cheese Dogs usually slaps”
“The Notorious B.I.G. (gotta be Biggie)”
If you could travel to any other country for free, where would you go?
“I went to Japan once, I think I’d like to go to again.”
What’s something not many people know about you?
“My Star Wars knowledge has the high ground compared to most people’s.”
What are you majoring in?
“Psychology and sports management.”
What do you hope to do as a career 10 years from now?
“Raise a family and own a gym.”
You can follow NaKoda on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/nakodasiegel/?hl=en