Growing Toward Greatness

by Alyssa Haduck

In an apartment in Queens, New York, more than a decade ago, Youssif and Yasmine Hemida sat on their respective bunk beds concentrating on a single goal: to save Princess Peach.

 

“When I was younger, we used to play video games,” Youssif, Maryland’s top-ranked heavyweight wrestler, said of spending time with his older sister, Yasmine. “I used to love watching her play ‘Super Mario Sunshine.’ It was just really fun seeing her play.”

Lein Holsboer posing taking a shot.

Today, the Hemida siblings each focus on much more than video games. Both Youssif and Yasmine are pursuing studies in the medical field while having participated in Division I athletics. These similarities, however, are not a coincidence. Youssif has been looking up to Yasmine for years, emulating her accomplishments and growing from her failures.

 

“That was almost like a metaphor; she went through things first,” Youssif explained of how watching his sister’s video game quests mirrored his life growing up. “If she messed up, I would see the mistakes she made and I was like, ‘Ah, don’t do that.’ I watched the things she did wrong, and I learned from them.”

 

Yasmine, about three years Youssif’s senior, embraced her brother’s attention and still views the position of older sister as a privilege.

 

“As an older sibling, I was automatically given the role to be his role model,” Yasmine said. “As I got older, I paid more attention to my mistakes and things I wish I could've done differently, and I would always share that with Youssif. He has learned from my mistakes and I'm always there for him when he needs help in anything, especially the things I have already gone through.”

"I would try any sport. I was open to anything, really. For wrestling though, I loved it. I loved being physical. It was so much fun."

Youssif Hemida

Yasmine has chosen to pursue studies in biotechnology at Syracuse University, while Youssif is a junior kinesiology major at Maryland considering pre-med and physician’s assistant paths. From applying to college to completing challenging biology courses, Yasmine has helped Youssif navigate his educational endeavors. She expected that her brother would have medically-related aspirations because the two siblings, she explained, share a passion for helping others.

 

“I wasn't surprised,” Yasmine said of Youssif’s choice to study kinesiology. “I was actually so proud of him. We definitely both have similar mentalities with what we want in life, which is to help people become better versions of themselves. Practicing medicine, in my opinion, is the best and most rewarding field out there to help someone in need. And it also combines intellectual curiosity as well as compassionate care all in one, and I can say Youssif and I both love that about medicine.”

 

In addition to complementing career paths, Youssif has looked to Yasmine for guidance in athletic pursuits as well. The difference, however, is in sport. Because Yasmine was recruited for Syracuse’s crew team, she had already mastered the balance of collegiate academics and athletics before Youssif became a part of the Terrapin’s wrestling roster. While Yasmine was deeply devoted to rowing, she could never persuade Youssif to be the same.

 

“Of course I wanted my brother to do rowing too. I wanted us to be the unstoppable, dynamic rowing duo,” Yasmine said. “We did actually row in a two-person boat once, but he didn’t enjoy it at all. I still tried to convince him to do it after that, because he has the perfect rowing physique to do well in the sport, but he told me it was too boring for him and that he needed to do a sport with more action.”

 

Youssif remembers the scenario similarly.

 

“[Yasmine] always wanted me to row because I had a tall build,” he explained. “I would go to her regattas and would always be with her on a lot of weekends, and coaches would be like, ‘Oh, you’re a rower, you should row in college,’ and I was like, ‘No, I’m a wrestler.’”

 

Though he was able to confirm his commitment to wrestling with conviction when tempted by crew coaches, Youssif did not always take wrestling so seriously.

 

After seeing his peers participate in various sports growing up, Youssif was eager to join.

 

“One time, we got a flyer in the mail – it was called Tiger Cub Wrestling – and I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ I would try any sport. I was open to anything, really,” he said. “For wrestling though, I loved it. I loved being physical. It was so much fun.”

 

When he started wrestling, Youssif was more focused on enjoyment than achievement, and even split his winters between the mat and the court, participating in travel basketball. As his commitment to wrestling intensified, however, his abilities improved.

 

“It was just the one-on-one, that’s something I really liked about it,” he explained of what drew him to the sport. “I put in the work, I got better. That was a big for me.”

Lein Holsboer posing with her stick across her shoulders.

Just as Youssif grew to love wrestling over time, his parents also developed an affection for the action, but they were not always so invested.

 

Though Youssif and Yasmine are from New York, both of their parents were born in Egypt. Operating as a traditional Egyptian household influenced the family’s focus and values.

 

Originally, Youssif’s parents were not very familiar with wrestling, and often worried when their son got hurt or lost a match. They, like Yasmine, encouraged him to pursue rowing, an activity that would not expose him to as much exertion and force. Once Youssif convinced his parents that wrestling could help him through college, though, they began to share his vision.

 

“My parents were never really athletes, never really pushed me in sports. They always pushed academics. A lot of times, foreign parents value academics very strongly, so they never really pushed me in wrestling,” he explained. “That was, I think for me, great, because it had to be all self-motivated, self-driven.”

 

The combination of Youssif’s academic and athletic ambition, paired with Yasmine’s guidance, made him appealing to college scouts. Many universities were interested in adding Youssif to their wrestling rosters, but he had ultimately decided to make Maryland his new home. After an undefeated season his senior year of high school that led to a New York state championship title, Youssif was prepared take his talent to the Terps.

 

This year, Youssif is a captain of the 34-man team. Learning leadership from his sister, as well as from coaches and older teammates, Youssif is ready to guide the group through the remainder of the season.

 

“I was a captain last year, too, but now that I’ve had a little more success, my words hold more value, so when I say things, people listen,” he said of advising his peers. “One thing is leading by example – I think that’s something I do well. People see me having success on the mat and they think, ‘Well, what’s Youssif doing? Maybe I should do that,’ instead of questioning it.”

 

Just as Youssif looked to Yasmine for guidance growing up, the team now looks to Youssif to direct them toward success.

 

As the Big Ten and NCAA Championship tournaments approach, Youssif’s immediate attention is focused on finishing the season strong. No matter the outcome, the Hemida family is proud of Youssif’s accomplishments, and, looking forward, Yasmine knows that her brother will thrive in all of his future pursuits.

 

“He's going to do great things in anything he sets his mind to,” she said. “He's fighting hard out there to be the best version he can be, and I know with the way he carries himself – with such discipline, confidence, and constantly being humble – he won't let anything stop him from getting what he wants.”

Growing Toward Greatness is a special presentation of umterps.com.

 

Alyssa Haduck is a senior majoring in communications and romance languages at the University of Maryland and is a contributing writer to umterps.com.

 

All rights reserved.

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Lein Holsboer posing taking a shot.

Just as Youssif grew to love wrestling over time, his parents also developed an affection for the action, but they were not always so invested.

 

Though Youssif and Yasmine are from New York, both of their parents were born in Egypt. Operating as a traditional Egyptian household influenced the family’s focus and values.

 

Originally, Youssif’s parents were not very familiar with wrestling, and often worried when their son got hurt or lost a match. They, like Yasmine, encouraged him to pursue rowing, an activity that would not expose him to as much exertion and force. Once Youssif convinced his parents that wrestling could help him through college, though, they began to share his vision.

 

“My parents were never really athletes, never really pushed me in sports. They always pushed academics. A lot of times, foreign parents value academics very strongly, so they never really pushed me in wrestling,” he explained. “That was, I think for me, great, because it had to be all self-motivated, self-driven.”

 

The combination of Youssif’s academic and athletic ambition, paired with Yasmine’s guidance, made him appealing to college scouts. Many universities were interested in adding Youssif to their wrestling rosters, but he had ultimately decided to make Maryland his new home. After an undefeated season his senior year of high school that led to a New York state championship title, Youssif was prepared take his talent to the Terps.

Lein Holsboer posing with her stick across her shoulders.

This year, Youssif is a captain of the 34-man team. Learning leadership from his sister, as well as from coaches and older teammates, Youssif is ready to guide the group through the remainder of the season.

 

“I was a captain last year, too, but now that I’ve had a little more success, my words hold more value, so when I say things, people listen,” he said of advising his peers. “One thing is leading by example – I think that’s something I do well. People see me having success on the mat and they think, ‘Well, what’s Youssif doing? Maybe I should do that,’ instead of questioning it.”

 

Just as Youssif looked to Yasmine for guidance growing up, the team now looks to Youssif to direct them toward success.

 

As the Big Ten and NCAA Championship tournaments approach, Youssif’s immediate attention is focused on finishing the season strong. No matter the outcome, the Hemida family is proud of Youssif’s accomplishments, and, looking forward, Yasmine knows that her brother will thrive in all of his future pursuits.

 

“He's going to do great things in anything he sets his mind to,” she said. “He's fighting hard out there to be the best version he can be, and I know with the way he carries himself – with such discipline, confidence, and constantly being humble – he won't let anything stop him from getting what he wants.”

Lein Holsboer posing taking a shot.
Lein Holsboer posing with her stick across her shoulders.
Lein Holsboer posing taking a shot.
Lein Holsboer posing with her stick across her shoulders.