CEDAR RAPIDS — Four hours before his flight departed, Jose Pablo (JP) Segura received news he would not be playing football in America, something he ached to experience again.
Segura, a senior at Cedar Rapids Xavier High School, returned to Iowa for his second year as a foreign exchange student. In 2015, he attended Xavier as a freshman participating in football and wrestling.
He developed a love for both sports.
Segura chose to return to Xavier with the mind-set he would be playing football with his teammates from his freshman year. Because of an issue with his Visa, however, Segura was not allowed to play varsity sports. Regardless, he chose to stay on the team as a source of support from the sidelines.
“I love the environment at Xavier and the mentality of the football team; to always get better and to give it your best, maximum effort on every single play,” he said. “It feels like home.”
Although it was not the football season he expected, Segura still was able to be involved with the team and its traditions. He was recognized during senior night, escorted by his parents, who traveled all the way from Mexico to stand next to him.
Segura’s Visa still is keeping him from wrestling for the first half of the season, but he is excited to start competing on varsity this month.
Xavier wrestling coach Ryan Chambers has been more than just a coach to Segura. In his return to the United States, he returned to the same home he stayed in previously — with Chambers and his family. His host brother, Patrick Chambers, also is a teammate, which has helped the two bond.
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In addition to his host brother and father, Segura has a relationship with his host mother and sister. He said, in his second time in the Chambers’ home, he has more responsibilities to be a role model for his 11-year-old host sister.
“At the end of the day, they are my family,” Segura said. “I do consider them my mom and dad. If I ever need anything I know they will be there for me.”
“I had never had a brother, so he taught me what it’s like to have one,” Patrick Chambers said.
Segura will be able to compete starting next week.