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Nadeau’s learning curve grows at UNCP


UNC-Pembroke wrestler Stuart Nadeau graduated from Topsail High School.


Over time, the culture of college sports has become big business, with the line between student-athlete sometimes becoming blurred. But collegiate sports still can open doors to opportunity for students to build a foundation of education and leadership.

Topsail High School alumnus Stuart Nadeau has learned that as he competes with the UNC Pembroke wrestling team, exploring new avenues to grow as a student away from the mat.

For a project in his business communications course, Nadeau chose to volunteer at the Pembroke Area Chamber of Commerce, stepping outside the normal path of some of his peers.

“I wanted to get involved in something a little more political,” said Nadeau, who graduated from Topsail in the spring of 2011. “I wanted to see what the chamber is and what it does.”

Due to a struggling economy in both the public and private sectors of the small town of Pembroke, the chamber plays a significant role in community revitalization.

“The chamber’s primary focus is building small business to stimulate economic growth in the community,” said Nadeau. “It is a bridge between the people in the community and local businesses, as well as connecting business leaders to work together. Once I began volunteering with them, I realized how important that organization really was to the advancement of the community.”

Balancing his grueling wrestling schedule and classwork, Nadeau has a 3.7 GPA in the honors college, making the Deans List in his first year.

“I’m not here to just hang out and wrestle,” said Nadeau. “I’m here to go to school and then wrestle. I want to grow up and do things. The opportunity I have in front of me is a bridge to earn a good job and ultimately to the rest of my life.”

Despite being redshirted last season, Nadeau competed in six tournaments as an unattached competitor, meaning he was able to wrestle, but unaffiliated with the Braves wrestling program. He posted a 14-8 (.636) record, tallying four pins and three wins by major decision. He earned top honors at The Citadel Open and finished third at the Appalachian Open.

Moving up to a higher weight class (184 pounds), Nadeau struggled early in his first official season as a redshirt freshman, going 4-4 in his first two tournaments.

“I didn’t feel like myself the first couple matches,” said Nadeau. “But I still have the same mindset that nobody’s going to pin me. I can’t get pinned. ... No matter how much it hurts, keep fighting.”

Nadeau has kept fighting, earned his first career event title with a perfect 4-0 record in the 184-pound tournament at the Central Florida Open on Saturday. Nadeau’s performance helped the 12th ranked UNCP win the team title. It was the first event championship for the Braves since 2008.

“It always feels good to win, especially after a slump,” he  said. “I learned a lot the past two weekends, was happy to fix those problems and was happy to see the results on the mat.”