9 who shine: Wrestler mentally strong too

There’s no doubt Matthew Pettibone is physically strong.

The Pelham High School senior is a member of the school’s J-ROTC and wrestling team.

But Pettibone says those organizations were more than drills, practices and workouts … they taught him how to be mentally tough.

“The mental strength and the self-discipline you develop with the ROTC is very similar to wrestling,” said Pettibone, 18. “They teach you responsibility and how to keep yourself on track.”

Pettibone got involved with Pelham’s fledgling Navy J-ROTC program because of family history and the chance to learn something new. His dad, Timothy, was a lieutenant commander in the Navy.

Pettibone has taken classes in naval science as well as military history and leadership. He has also competed in various drills and contests, including the physical fitness, academic and exhibition teams.

He also carries the same competitive spirit into the wrestling mat, finishing third in the state in his weight class earlier this year.

After graduation, Pettibone plans to go to Auburn to study nutrition and sports science and eventually join the Marines. Pettibone is the son of Timothy and Michele Pettibone.