COLUMBIA — Jake Cyr says he doesn’t care what people think of him.
"I don't think anyone should really care what people think," he said.
Cyr, a 141-pound freshman on the Missouri wrestling team, is a nursing major at MU, a relatively rare career choice for a man. According to 2009 information from the U.S. Department of Labor, 93.3 percent of all licensed practical nurses are female.
It's the same story at MU's nursing program.
"When I went for summer welcome, there weren't that many (males) at all," Cyr said. “Most people laugh."
But that doesn’t stop him from pursuing his goal.
“I know it’s going to be a good job later in life,” he said. “I just like helping people in need of help.”
That Cyr is even on the Missouri wrestling team is another testament to his willingness to follow a different path. He and his older brother Josh Cyr walked on to the team before this season, despite resistance from Missouri coach Brian Smith.
“I kind of chased them away,” Smith said. “I told them I wasn’t going to keep them.”
Smith's honesty about Cyr's chances of walking on to the team didn't stop Jake Cyr from being persistent.
He ignored Smith's initial impression of him, just as he ignores what people say about men in nursing programs.
"I'm just trying to do the things I want to do," he said.
Smith was worried about having too large a roster if he allowed the Cyr brothers to stay on the team. He said they were angry about his decision but they didn’t give up, and they went to practice the next day.
"We just came back anyway," Jake Cyr said. "Maybe he'd change his mind or something."
“After the practice I grabbed them, and I said, ‘All right, you guys just won’t go away, and I like that,’” Smith said.
The Cyr brothers were never state champions at Waynesville High School, but they do have five state tournament appearances between them. Jake Cyr went to the tournament each of his last three years in high school and Josh Cyr made it after his junior and senior seasons.
After battling their way onto the Missouri wrestling team, they became workout partners for starters during practices. The brothers got some experience with college wrestling in tournaments at the start of this season because multiple wrestlers from each school can compete in a given weight class.
Jake Cyr often works out with senior 141-pounder Todd Schavrien during practices, but he and his brother work out with whoever happens to need a partner on any particular day.
Jake Cyr will need to continue his persistent hard work if he wants to start for the Tigers next season.
Schavrien will graduate after this season, so his starting position will be open. Jake Cyr will be competing for the spot with sophomores Nicholas Hucke and Cody Farinella, among others.
“He works hard and he’ll be challenging for the spot,” Smith said of Cyr. “His moment will come. Everyone gets a chance.”
Jake Cyr said he will continue working to improve during the offseason and come back in the fall ready to compete.
“Of course I want to start,” he said. “I didn’t come here not to start.”