J.J. Schroeder, a 7-year-old fighting leukemia, coaches Hancock at U23 World Team Trials

By Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling | Oct. 19, 2017, 1:47 p.m. (ET)

Photo: J.J. Schroeder helping dry off Greco star G’Angelo Hancock during U23 Trials. Photo by Mark Lundy (LutteLens.com).

At the U23 World Team Trials in Rochester, Minn., earlier this month, G’Angelo Hancock, who had already made the 2017 Junior and Senior Greco World Teams, had a new coach in his corner, 7-year-old Josiah (J.J.) Schroeder.

Schroeder, a native of Minnesota, was diagnosed with T-Cell Accute Leukemia Lymphoma on Sept. 13, 2017.  

With several family members involved in sport, Schroeder has wrestling blood flowing through his veins and has been a fan nearly his whole life. His uncle, Jarod Benrud, is a well-known referee on the USA Wrestling circuit and was officiating the tournament, when he told Hancock about his nephew.

Hancock met up with Schroeder later that day and told him to make sure he came the next day when Hancock would wrestle for a spot on the U.S. U23 Greco-Roman World Team. Schroeder agreed.

“He was pretty shy, but he told me that he wanted to watch me wrestle,” Hancock said. “So I got the idea overnight, why don’t I just put him in my corner? No one would mind, and I’m sure if I put J.J. in my corner, he would love it. No one is closer to the wrestling mat than the coaches, so I wanted to let him be right there on the mat and make it exciting.”

Not only did Schroeder get to sit in the coaches’ corner but he was also handed a towel and was told he would get to help towel off the young Greco star in between periods of his semifinals match.

“I made it a goal during my semifinals match to take it to the second period,” Hancock said. “Sure enough, between periods, he toweled me off and one of the coaches showed him how to use the towel and all that. He’s going through something a lot bigger. He’s battling leukemia and he was just on my mind. I thought making him a part of the match would mean a lot to him and take his mind off the other stuff.”

In the stands looking on as J.J. coached was his mother, Jana Schroeder.

“As a parent, I was in awe of the class act that G’Angelo was that day. It brought tears to my eyes and lifted my spirits to see someone so talented be so selfless. What a huge blessing it was as a parent to watch,” she said.

The weekend of fun didn’t stop there. Schroeder got to see his friend Hancock make another World Team and also got a chance to meet 2012 Olympic champion and four-time World champion Jordan Burroughs, who took time to talk with J.J.

“J.J. kept saying how nice everyone was to him,” Jana said. “He sure felt like royalty. He was pretty excited about meeting all these famous wrestlers. Our faith will get us through this little stepping stone in J.J.'s life. God is amazing and blesses us so, just like that weekend with all the wrestlers and refs. They were phenomenal!”