From wrestling for fun to becoming a Division I athlete, Max Leete tackles his dreams
“The wrestling program has a rich history and has a great network of support, alumni and brand new coaching staff supporting me in the journey so far.”
From the Newsstands: This story appeared in The Eagle's April 2023 print edition. You can find the digital version here.
For Max Leete, his success and passion started long before coming to American University to be on the wrestling team.
Growing up, Leete had parents who were both in athletics with his mom playing volleyball and his dad playing football. His three other siblings also have been pursuing their dreams with his brother in the marines working to become a police officer, his older sister at a private school for education and his other sister a senior at the University in North Carolina. His family member's success made him want to find something to be passionate about – which he would soon discover.
It all started when Leete joined his brother and started wrestling. Ever since then, he has continued to wrestle through middle school and started to get more serious in high school traveling to national championships across the country. He started traveling to different states in eighth grade, traveling to 55 different competitions in the summer.
In high school, he continued to compete on a national stage, beginning to be recruited by DI schools his freshman year. Towards the end of high school, the recruiting process came down to three schools: Brown, the University of Virginia and AU. Although he said he was happy to go to any of these schools, he ended up choosing AU because it made financial sense and was in a major city. He hasn’t regretted his decision.
“The wrestling program has a rich history and has a great network of support, alumni and brand new coaching staff supporting me in the journey so far,” Leete said.
It can be hard to maintain a balance between wrestling and school, especially with working out and meeting assignment deadlines, but Leete maintains a good balance. In his downtime, Leete likes to do yoga, go to museums in D.C., with the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History being one of his favorites, hiking and enjoying nature.
Looking towards the future of his wrestling career, Leete is currently working to complete a dual citizenship process to train and compete in the Dominican Republic on an international level, trying to perform on the biggest stage possible. Leete also works hard to maintain personal connections with other people on his team and the coaches. He is also a double major in women, gender and sexuality studies and justice and law as he believes both majors compliment each other and through each lens, intricacies can be discovered and applications can be made. He was interested in taking majors that could be useful in the future even as a future athlete, especially in DC.
Leete offers great advice for anyone who is interested in wrestling and this program at American. “I recommend making sure it’s something you love, with some people who don’t enjoy wrestling as much, there is a lot of sacrifice in order to be successful in the sport,” said Leete. He goes on to suggest that people who aren’t in a college athletic program don’t understand the challenges of being a DI athlete and creating a circle of people who will support you and your goals through adversity is an important factor. Leete represents the best of the wrestling program and is the epitome of challenge accepted.