Captain wrestling with engineering solutions to air pollution


Pranati Kandi

Coppell senior Jo’el Hernandez practices sparring with sophomore Dominic Godinez on Friday in the CHS Field House. Hernandez is the captain of the wrestling team and is also a member of the Technology Student Association, an organization dedicated to business education and STEM.

Anjali Vishwanath, Staff Writer

As the boys wrestling team captain and member of the Technological Student Association (TSA), Coppell senior Jo’el Hernandez is no stranger to big commitments and hard work.

I think I just take [my responsibilities] one step at a time,” Hernandez said. “And solve problems as I go. When there’s a lot of stuff going on, I keep a list or a planner.”

Hernandez represents the school on the varsity wrestling team. When he began wrestling four years ago, he did the unthinkable: made the varsity team as a freshman.

“He’s been a varsity wrestler for four years; that’s pretty rare,” Coppell wrestling coach Chip Lowery said. “He earned a varsity letter as a freshman.”

After three years on the varsity team, it came as no surprise to his peers when he was named captain of the team for the 2020-21 school year.

“Jo’el has always been on varsity and always been good,” Coppell senior girls wrestling captain Dorian Villalba said. “So for him, it’s kind of like he was fit for that role [as captain].”

However, it was not just his experience and talent that earned him the captaincy.

“I picked the captain,” Lowery said. “And I pick somebody who is already exhibiting some of those traits. You have to be a leader, you have to be somebody that can encourage others and be supportive of others, and Jo’el has had those traits.”

Hernandez’s counterpart on the girls team also believes that support and encouragement are major parts of being a strong leader.

“Jo’el is a good captain for the boys team,” Villalba said. “He’s a really nice person, and he’s really good at pushing people, knowing their limits and knowing how to encourage teammates.”

One way Hernandez supports his team is by attending every optional practice, spending time every day wrestling.

“As a team captain, it’s not really required for you to go to all the extra practices,” Villalba said. “But you have to go to all the extra practices and you coordinate extra practices because it encourages people to come.”

When not in wrestling practice, Hernandez takes part in engineering competitions as a member of the TSA. In preparation for a competition in May, he is currently working to build an air purifier to combat pollution in third-world countries.

“[Being a member of the TSA] is a lot of work, but it’s fine if you enjoy the engineering aspects of it,” Hernandez said.

A major component of engineering is problem solving, and that is the perspective from which Hernandez manages his busy schedule. He solves problems as they arise in order to keep up with his many responsibilities while experiencing the least amount of stress. It is not Hernandez’s favorite aspect of engineering, though. What attracts him to the field is how essential it is to society.

“[What amazes me is] just how necessary it is for everything around us,” Hernandez said. “Everything in your house isn’t the first draft of what they’re making, it’s been engineered to work perfectly, and that’s the most intriguing part to me.”

Hernandez plans to attend college through ROTC and pursue engineering as a career. Before then, he will complete his final wrestling season, which is set to begin in March.

“Normally wrestling season starts in November, and we would have competed to the end of February,” Hernandez said. “But because of COVID-19 we’re not starting till March, which is way off our schedule. This season is going to be tough because they’ve limited the amount of people that get to move on to the regional and state tournament.”

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