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Jiu-jitsu helps Hellervik change his course in life

Former NHS student overcomes substance abuse to earn diploma through Catalyst Program


As an alternative high school, the Catalyst program’s model is to empower students who have struggled in the traditional school setting to help themselves.

That was definitely the case for Brandon Hellervik, who turned to exercise and the Brazilian martial art jiu-jitsu to overcome his substance abuse problems and took advantage of the opportunities Catalyst offered to get his life back on track.

On June 5, Hellervik received his diploma to complete the journey.by: SETH GORDON - Grappling with life - Brandon Hellervik, who committed to           fitness and jiu-jitsu to help overcome substance abuse problems, stands with Catalyst principal (and sometimes jiu-jitsu training partner) Bill Rogers at graduation ceremonies June 5.

“When he came to Catalyst, like most of our students, he was behind in credits and he just really caught on,” Catalyst principal Bill Rogers said. “He kicked it into gear when he got here.”

When Hellervik entered Newberg High School, he battled strong feelings of social anxiety, but after a falling out with a friend and his girlfriend during his sophomore year, he began to feel depressed and turned to alcohol.

“I was already drinking at the point,” Hellervik said. “But once that happened, I started drinking a lot. I basically started drinking all the time. I used that to cope with any kind of pain I had.”

By his junior year, Hellervik had lost all interest in school and lashed out against authority at the high school.

“I was just angry, angry and depressed all the time and had no idea why,” he said. “I had no idea what to do with myself at one point. I was just drinking all the time.”

Hellervik hit bottom during the first semester of his junior year. After drinking before school, his whole body turned completely red. He left school that day and it took two more days for him to get back to normal.

“I was drinking and doing other stuff and I realized it wasn’t getting me anywhere at all,” Hellervik said. “Even at that time when I was doing all that stuff, I had plans to be a personal trainer. I knew I couldn’t do both.”

Hellervik also credits his father, who told him to just focus on finishing school, for inspiring and encouraging him.

With more free time on his hands, Hellervik needed something to do, so he started working out.

“I had heard about other people kind of getting addicted to exercise that way, too. They just get addicted to that burn,” Hellervik said. “So that’s kind of what happened to me.”

Hellervik had been introduced to jiu-jitsu by a friend who trained in mixed martial arts, but it wasn’t until he went to Impact Jiu-Jitsu as part of Catalyst’s P.E. class the second semester of his junior year that he got hooked.

The class was taught by Rogers’ son, Cole, and two weeks after the class ended, Hellervik joined the gym himself.

“I realized I didn’t want to stop doing it,” Hellervik said. “It’s awesome. That changed everything. It made me quit doing everything. That made me quit smoking cigarettes. I literally quit doing everything bad.”

A little more than a year later, Hellervik took over for Cole Rogers in teaching the class, which was relocated to the Springbrook Education Center, for his senior project.

Hellervik says it was both fun and overwhelming to take on the role of teacher, but jumped in feet first, thoroughly preparing for each lesson and managing the equipment.

“He was a super senior, but he stepped up in that leadership role,” Rogers said. “It was so cool to watch him teach because he took his job so seriously.”

One of the perks of training at Impact outside of class was grappling with his principal.

“It’s not like karate where you punch and kick in the air,” Rogers said. “We go live, so he’s the only student I have — I have one more now — who’s been able to choke out his principal and not get in trouble for it.”

Hellervik also picked up the habit of walking almost every

They just get addicted to that burn,” Hellervik said. “So that’s kind of what happened to me.”

Hellervik had been introduced to jiu-jitsu by a friend who trained in mixed martial arts, but it wasn’t until he went to Impact Jiu-Jitsu as part of Catalyst’s P.E. class the second semester of his junior year that he got hooked.

The class was taught by Rogers’ son, Cole, and two weeks after the class ended, Hellervik joined the gym himself.

“I realized I didn’t want to stop doing it,” Hellervik said. “It’s awesome. That changed everything. It made me quit doing everything. That made me quit smoking cigarettes. I literally quit doing everything bad.”

A little more than a year later, Hellervik took over for Cole Rogers in teaching the class, which was relocated to the Springbrook Education Center, for his senior project.

Hellervik says it was both fun and overwhelming to take on the role of teacher, but jumped in feet first, thoroughly preparing for each lesson and managing the equipment.

“He was a super senior, but he stepped up in that leadership role,” Rogers said. “It was so cool to watch him teach because he took his job so seriously.”

One of the perks of training at Impact outside of class was grappling with his principal.

“It’s not like karate where you punch and kick in the air,” Rogers said. “We go live, so he’s the only student I have — I have one more now — who’s been able to choke out his principal and not get in trouble for it.”

Hellervik also picked up the habit of walking almost everywhere he went, including to school and to Impact from his home in Dundee.

With a new lifestyle and diploma in hand, the world seems to have opened up for Hellervik, who has a job lined up at a gym in Portland and is considering taking college classes in graphic design.

“Even now, it’s hard for me to get depressed,” Hellervik said. “I’m pretty much happy all the time now.”




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