Cash is obviously at home on the mats, where he sits barefoot and cross-legged as he talks about the sport he lives and breathes: Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
The high school sophomore is at the gym in the middle of a Wednesday, the day of the week that he typically packs in about 10 hours of lessons, workouts, and some teaching. And today’s hours are just a portion of the time he spends at SBG Idaho, his home away from home, each week. (Luckily, he has a flexible school schedule.)
“I’m usually here 20 to 25 hours a week,” says Cash. “I’d rather be here than anywhere else, so I’d actually be open to going to even more classes.”
Early on, nearly three years ago, Cash wasn’t so sure. His older brother had signed him up for classes for his 12th birthday, and he definitely wasn’t feeling it. Jiu-jitsu is a grappling-based martial art in which a lot of the work takes place on the ground; to the untrained eye, it may look a bit like wrestling.
“It was a little close for my comfort at first—it didn’t seem normal to get that close to someone you don’t know,” Cash laughs. Nevertheless, he dutifully attended the classes his brother and it didn’t take long to get the feel for it.
“After a few classes, I realized I had a knack for it, and I started to like it,” he recalls. “I did my first tournament, and it just took off from there.”
After losing his first competitive match, Cash brought home gold in the next. “After that, I wanted to go to more tournaments. It really boosted my confidence to get a gold, and I started thinking, ‘Hey, this is cool.’”