With Guts and a Golden Smile: David Grannis-Vu


Ellie Chan

STRIKE A POSE: Junior David Grannis-Vu steps onto the dance floor with moves he choreographed himself at the “Extensions” show.

Ellen J. Wang, Staff Writer

There’s an assumption that wrestlers are giant, muscular dudes who grapple each other to near-death without flinching. That’s only partially true for junior David Grannis-Vu. The varsity wrestling captain and un-defeated League Champion looks like he can shatter walls with a punch, yet anyone who knows him will say his heart is softer than a golden puppy’s.

Grannis-Vu’s large brown eyes and ear-to-ear beam emanate friendliness, intelligence and humility, yet most of all show a unique soul who’s unafraid to be himself. Whether fist-bumping his Dance 3 classmates or raving about Taylor Swift’s newest album, he treats everyone with humor, sincerity and kindness—defying the hardcore muscle-man stereotype with his personality and gracefulness in dance.

At the end of the day, you know every- body will accept you for you. They don’t care who you are, race, gender, nothing like that. All they care about is, can you beat people up? If you can, cool.

— junior David Grannis-Vu

Surprisingly, Grannis-Vu had been homeschooled his whole life until he started his sophomore year at Northwood.

“When I came here last year I had no social skills, was very quiet and pretty much scared of everybody and everything,” Grannis-Vu said. “I was that kid walkin’ around like–hmm, scary new people! I started school sad, lonely, with no friends and not good at wrestling.”

Wrestling gave Grannis-Vu a second home. The group of guys who sweat, cry and fight together helped shape who he is today—from a shy homeschooled kid to a confident and happy star.

“A bunch of super tough misfits come together–yes, that’s the best way I would describe it,” Grannis-Vu said. “At the end of the day, you know everybody will accept you for you. They don’t care who you are, race, gender, nothing like that. All they care about is, can you beat people up? If you can, cool.”

Grannis-Vu’s co-captain senior Aiden Tak was his first school friend. Besides coaching him, supporting him through defeats and rejoicing together at triumphs, Tak taught Grannis-Vu to come out of his shell.

“Strangers are just friends you haven’t gotten to know yet,” Grannis-Vu said. “I have nothing against shyness. However, I think it stems from fear. This ties to ‘High School Musical.’ In the rooftop scene, Gabriella’s talking about how in kindergarten, you can talk to anybody and suddenly you’re friends. No worries, nothing like that. So you know at their core people aren’t born that way—being shy is a learned behavior. So, unlearn it. ”

It took guts and gumption to start a new sport at age 15. As a competitive gymnast and karate black belt, wrestling was quite a change for Grannis-Vu and his thrilling journey began with a rocky start. From the low, compressed stances that explode into powerful, direct-contact movements, wrestling required him to change his every instinct. Yet Grannis-Vu persisted through tears, fractured bones and dislocated shoulders, gripped by something irresistible.

“It’s an alpha sport,” Grannis-Vu said. “You get to push your limits and see what you’re capable of. I guess it boosts confidence because you know for a fact that your opponent is giving you 100 percent. It’s like, ‘This person really did just try to take me down and I just totally showed him who’s boss!’”

While wrestling may seem like a sport dependent on strength more than strategy, the mental aspect in wrestling is crucial. Its direct contact, intensity and risk of an injury wrack nerves—but Grannis-Vu has his own pre-match routine to de-stress, including blasting Taylor Swift or Blackpink in his headphones.

“I don’t worry about my opponent,” Grannis-Vu said. “If you trust your wrestling, they’re just another body: just another arm to grab, another leg to shoot on. And if you have that one second of hesitation, you’re out. Shoot first, ask questions later. Go in there. Just do it.”

In a short time at Northwood, Grannis-Vu unlocked incredible potential and embarked on a path he wouldn’t have dreamed of five years ago—along his way, he encouraged others to overcome their fears and failures. Although he’s not sure what the future will look like after high school, Grannis-Vu has an idea.

“I’d like to help people—just know that I’m doing something good and making their days better—which might sound weird because my sport is shoving people’s faces into the ground,” Grannis-Vu said. “But, you know, on the mat you shove people down, but off the mat I like to lift people up.”