student / wrestler / sneaker head
'Purple and Gold' is a series of interviews I did at the start of 2018 with high school students from Columbia High in Lake City, Florida. Their portraits and interviews were focused on their self image, perceptions of success and how they plan on achieving that. As with all stories from here interviews, the goal is to establish sense of place. These subjects are unique in that their sense of place has not been fully formed yet, so it's a delightful case study about identity, when it's being solidified. Issac is a senior who is a talented wrestler that has never seen a meal he didn't like and doesn't care much for what color his hair is.
On working for himself
"I hate people telling me what to do. I just don't like it. Like you need to do this with their finger in front of my face. I just don't like it. 

Lively Technically Center, you ever heard of it? You can get certifications in like welding,  installing air conditioners, mechanic work and stuff like that at your own pace. I'm already certified as building construction and so if I go ahead and get some others, I can start my own business or firm. And from then on I won't work for anybody but myself."

On wrestling
"That's one of the hard things about wrestling. When my coach gets in my face like you need to do this or this, I just wait till he walks off and keep doing what I want. I admit he probably knows a thing or two, but my way is more fun.

Last year at regionals, I didn't even end up placing, but I did it my way. I ended up getting my nose put sideways to my cheek and it broke, obviously. It was gushing blood. They had to shove tampons up there, that I bled through, and then change 'em for two more. Cuz not even tampons are used to that much blood (chuckles). 

But, I didn't give up. 

I remember looking at my coach and saying, fix my nose so I can beat this kid's ass.

And so I got back out there and beat him. I've pinned him in front of his girlfriend and everything. I'm smiled at her while I was doing it. I always love smiling at the girls in the stands but this one was extra special. Wrestling is fun as hell.

I got into wrestling in middle school. My buddy Jack used to talk about it and I wanted to try it out. I was maybe 85 pounds? But I loved it. It keeps me busy and out of trouble."
On Juvie
"When I say out of trouble, I mean like actual trouble. I spent 9 months in a juvenile facility. I got lucky because when I was supposed to go away for a while, while but they put me in there instead.

You hear all this stuff like Jail is this, jail is this, but honestly, it's really boring. The way my grandpa put it is, this is a reform school. There wasn't like some crazy amount of insurrection or whatever. The closest it got to that was my first day, I came in and one of the kids, who was about my size now, asked "so you wrestle?" He picked me up with about two of his fingers and said, you ain't no wrestler and just dropped me to the ground. He was stupid strong for his size.

But he was just joking around. There was no like fighting or anything. You just get up and do what they tell you. You can't really run anywhere and escape because its in the middle of no where. And there were bears and stuff out there. If we were good, one guard would bring us bootleg movies. So kept on doing good for him. Even though you weren't supposed to, it actually helped us be good.

It wasn't really what I expected to be honest. It was the same as school. I'd wake up just the same. You'd go eat. You'd make up. You'd go out to the main area or whatever and sit there. We would break up into groups, one group would go work on their certifications in either welding or construction, that's how I got mine, and the other one would go to class and then lunch and you'd switch. After a month then you would work for the state a few times a week, weeding on the highways. We'd work from 6 am to 2 pm or so and then go play football on the rec yard. It was alright, but I'm not trying to go back, it's too boring and I've got better stuff to do."
"What defines good to me is all attitude. it's someone that doesn't give up. You're getting beat and you're like fuck that. I'm going, I'm doing it, doing it."
On working with his hands
"I've always loved working with my hands from when I was little. I've always loved taking stuff apart, building stuff. I remember having this little toy vacuum that I took apart and put PVC pipe on it and turned it into a rocket. It didn't go no where, but to me it was a rocket so I thought I was gonna fly away.

I still buy Legos. My girlfriend just got me some more for Christmas. I just play with them all day because I love building stuff. Sometimes when I get bored I'll start drawing blueprints or reading a chemistry book. I really want to be a chemical engineer because I love chemicals and engineering. putting both of those both together and getting to use my hands would be a dream."

On poetry
"I write about government corruption, my mom and some of my friends. My friend Jack that I mentioned, he was always getting in trouble and stuff, doing drugs. He happened to OD on Xanax. He was at a party and just didn't wake up. He was just cold. That was when I was 13. Jack was October and my mom died in November and before that my friend Dayveon had killed himself because he was getting bullied. He was actually my wrestling partner.

That's when I started getting in more trouble. Maybe I was trying to get into more stuff so I wouldn't remember? I don't know. I just kept getting in trouble from there. I've always been told that I've been angry since I was a little kid so I guess all that fueled the fire. It has gotten a lot better for me this past year. Last year, I started to just demolish my competition and it felt good. I was a dark horse, coming out of nowhere wrecking kids. Oh and I've neen doing Method Poetry to write about all of this junk (chuckles.)"
On family
"My grandparents take care of me. On account of me not knowing my dad and my mom dying. Everyone thinks my granny is my mom because she looks so young, she's like 60 but looks like she's in her early 40s. My grandpa loves to fish, I got that from him. He's not my biological grandpa but I don't think step-grandpas are a thing.

I love food, it's my life and its a big part of our family. My aunt Lori is a manager at a Taco Bell so she always gets me loaded up. My grandpa grills steak or fries pork or chicken loaded up with seasoning. We don't do veggies, forget that, it takes up room for dessert. Everyone brings two desserts to family dinners. During wrestling season I can't have any of it but in the offseason, (smiles) I can't be stopped."
"Food is my life. If I'm not sleeping, I'm eating."
​​​​​​On success
"For me success would be not falling short of what I want to do or second guessing my decisions. I never want to say, I wish I would've done this, or that. I don't want to be that person who is a senior wishing I would have done stuff. I don't want to be afraid of something and regret it later. I'd rather just be myself than let all that drag me down."
From Lake City, FL
Lives in Lake City, FL

*other stories to consider

Back to Top