M Stories Senior School

M Stories:  Jared Ignacio Turns Grief Into Grit


11th-grader Jared Ignacio has an atomic habit:  You can find him each morning starting his day at the water fountains filling up a 2-liter water jug.  He patiently waits 3 or 4 minutes, listening to music and watching the jug fill before heading off to his first class. Although most people might feel it's a workout in itself to carry around 2 liters of water everywhere, Jared will tell you that's just the beginning of his athletic lifestyle. 

A native of Hawaii in his 3rd year at MIS and son of an expat mother, Jared is no stranger to the challenges of national and international transitions and mobility.  For Jared, ‘home’ is family.  “My family is my hale (meaning ‘home‘ in Hawaiian) because they nurture me with all the good they provide me. I have many aunties, uncles, and cousins. We’ve got a huge family. My mother is a widow and so my life without a father figure was a struggle for her; but through it, I became this resilient and respectful person“.   

Jared’s father was his first basketball coach.  After his father’s death in 2012, grief began to slowly overwhelm Jared to the point that “by age 14, I was big, lazy, with zero motivation, and feeling depressed.  The pain of losing my father really dragged me down. But then, my mom signed me up for a basketball team. When I joined, I had so many issues on and off the court:  having cramps, soreness, and feeling this awful pain running down my chest. My coach would push me each day until I could no longer run. It changed me, mentally and physically. It made me ask myself what my purpose is.  I began to take basketball seriously and began to feel more energetic and more confident about myself“.  

Jared trains every day with the ambition to play college basketball. “So, that’s why I have this 2-liter water bottle with me each day," he explains. Playing basketball has helped Jared to overcome many other challenges, including the challenge of transitioning from Hawaii to Germany as a 15-year-old.   

“Coming to this country was a big shift for me because of its colder climate, rainy days, and the many different things I needed to know just to fit in with the community“.  After the initial culture shock, Jared regained his footing through varsity basketball at MIS.  “Coming into varsity, it really shaped the way I play now.  I‘m looking at competition at a higher level, and I really try to push myself to the best of my abilities to get up and get to work. MIS has nurtured my skills because of the coaches and players they provide. One of our coaches is a D1 point guard and another coach is an expert at fundamentals.  They share so much of their knowledge about what it’s like to play at a higher level. They give me so much feedback and insights into small details of the game“. 

Jared’s words for the MIS community are: “I‘m really just an athlete trying to wake up very early at 4:00 AM just to work out. I listen to David Goggin and Kobe Bryant on the mindset of a winner. I want this just because I know that I can do it.  People should understand that if you can’t work for something or just wait for it, it’s not gonna get you anywhere. So for many people who are not working on themselves, I suggest that they start“.   

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