Flash Friday: Jordan Decatur

Wrestler extends Kent State’s foundation of respect and kindness to East Cleveland youth

Welcome to Flash Friday! In this series, we introduce you to fascinating student Flashes from all walks of life.

Meet Jordan, senior sociology major and wrestler, who is helping youth on and off the mat, bringing mentorship and new skill sets to the children of East Cleveland through the Beat the Streets program.  

Jordan Decatur Wrestling Win

Serving 10,000 young men and women annually, Beat the Streets fosters youth success in underserved communities to promote respect, teamwork and leadership through interactive wrestling programs.

Decatur saw the lifestyle of many of the children living in the city and wanted to help make a change.

“The program’s goal is to get the kids off the streets,” Decatur said. “Especially in the summertime when they have a lot of free time. It's right there in East Cleveland, so it's a rough area.”

Jordan Decatur working with youth

With 39% of East Cleveland residents living below the poverty line as of 2021, many households are struggling to keep food on the table, leaving little time to invest in education, mentorship and extracurricular activities for children.  

“It's a good opportunity for not only me to work with them, but for them to get out of crazy environments that they may live in. We can provide some order within all the chaos,” Decatur said.  

Decatur has had career-long sports success, before his time at Kent State, he wrestled four seasons at another university and held a three-time Fargo freestyle national championship title in high school. He hopes to spread his love for wrestling and the skills he has learned over the years among the community.

“I wanted to do something where I can make a difference in the youth,” Decatur said. “I know it brings me joy. I know that I had a lot of guidance in my life as a young kid. I just want to give them some guidance, someone to look up to. A lot of these kids don't have folks in their family who went to college. I want to show them another path they could take.”

Jordan Decatur works with a young wrestler

Decatur believes wrestling serves as the ideal intervention for children in this community.  

“Wrestling is a cheaper sport. You don't really need to pay for a lot of equipment, you just need a pair of shoes and some effort,” Decatur said. “You're learning life lessons through the sport, through the hard work that you're doing. It’s so much bigger than wrestling because we are building those crucial social skills.”

Decatur knows the power of mentorship. He reflects on how his experiences have inspired him to pay it forward. Originally from Akron, Ohio, Decatur attended Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, where he met head wrestling coach Dave Bergan, who played a pivotal role in his life.  

“If I hadn't met that guy, I don't think my career would have gone the direction it did. He kept me out of trouble,” Decatur said. “Things that are bigger than wrestling. Bigger than the sport itself. He is a good guy who really cares about people, not just wrestling. He really inspires me.”  

As graduation approaches for Decatur, he is sure that community involvement and wrestling are in his future.  

“This upcoming summer I'm going to take on a bigger role at Beat the Streets and try to travel with them and oversee competitions,” Decatur said.  

Are you a student interested in being featured in Flash Friday, or know a student who would make a great candidate? Send suggestions with name and contact information to kentstatetoday@kent.edu.

POSTED: Thursday, March 14, 2024 10:29 AM
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2024 03:38 PM
Maddie Goerl, Flash Communications
Courtesy of Jordan Decatur