By Madeline Alvarez, Staff Writer
Thor and Ivan Balavage have shared a love of wrestling from a young age. Now the two brothers have the opportunity to compete together on Newman’s wrestling team.
“I love being on the same team,” said Thor Balavage. “We have been on different teams before, and it was fine, but I am much happier that we are together... It provides some competition which is going to make both of us better.”
Thor said that having this time together in college is helping them to grow closer.
“We do about everything outside of wrestling together: hang out, play Xbox, watch football and other sports,” Thor said.
The brothers said that they were interested in wrestling early in life, and that it was Ivan, the younger of the two, who was first to take it up.
“I wanted to sign up in first grade and Thor thought it was cool and joined, and we’ve been grinding ever since,” Ivan said.
“I copied him,” Thor said. “I came to his first match and instantly fell in love with it.”
Ivan said that he and Thor show support for each other by “constantly pushing each other and cheering each other on.”
Having the brothers on the team seems to have made a positive impact on their teammates as well.
“I think it gives everyone on the team some competition,” said Thor. “They like using our brotherly love against each other, which I think creates a good tough-love atmosphere.”
“I think that when other people see us pushing each other it’s contagious, that everyone wants to work hard and push each other past the breaking point,” Ivan said. He added that if he were not on the same team as his brother, his “motor to keep going wouldn’t be as strong as it is now.”
Thor, who is a junior, said that his decision to enroll at Newman was influenced by his desire to continue wrestling throughout college and by Newman’s nursing program.
“I knew I wanted to be a nurse, so I started looking at nursing schools, and Newman’s nursing school had topped all of the other competitors.... With wrestling and the academics here, I couldn’t pass it up,” Thor said.
Ivan, a freshman, was drawn to Newman because of the opportunity to be on the same wrestling team as his brother and for the “outstanding record of the school itself.”
Though undecided in his major, Ivan said, “I’m definitely leaning towards nursing, just because both of my parents are nurses and Thor is going into nursing as well.”
The Balavage brothers will hit the mat for the first time together on Nov. 4 at the Oklahoma City Open.
Caption: THE BALAVAGE BROTHERS took interest in wrestling from a young age, with Ivan taking it up first. Courtesy photo, Thor Balavage