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The Voice of the Tyrone Area High School

Tyrone Eagle Eye News

The Voice of the Tyrone Area High School

Tyrone Eagle Eye News

“The Spaniard” Brings Message of Resiliency to TAHS

Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman grew up in Hollidaysburg, was a two time silver medalist at the PIAA wrestling championships in high school, wrestled collegiately at Lock Haven University and went on to a career in MMA with the UFC.

Former mixed martial arts fighter and motivational speaker Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman delivered his perspectives on the meaning of resiliency to the TASD students on Thursday, January 18.

Tyrone principal Chad Packer invited Brenneman to speak with the students for the first all-school assembly in the auditorium in over three years. There were no assemblies in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, and the space was closed from 2022 to early 2024 for renovation.

Packer said he was inspired by Benneman’s message that life is a fight and what’s important is not how many times we get knocked down, but that we get back up again.

“There are fights that young people face regularly and I wanted our school to know that there is always someone here for them if they need help,” Packer said.

Brenneman grew up just 25 minutes away in Hollidaysburg and was happy to be back in Blair County.

My visit to Tyrone was awesome. It’s always special for me to return home to Blair County. I grew up there, and to be able to impact students in that area is a very special thing to me.

“My visit to Tyrone was awesome,” Brenneman said, “It’s always special for me to return home to Blair County. I grew up there, and to be able to impact students in that area is a very special thing to me. I thought the students, staff, and administration were extremely kind and welcoming.”

Many Tyrone students found his message to be both entertaining and inspiring.

“The Spaniard was a cool guy, and he understands what many high school students are going through. I think he was able to influence us to be better people,” senior Elijah Knarr said.

In his MMA career, Brenneman fought against some tough opponents such as Anthony Johnson and Danny Castillo. He took the nickname “The Spaniard” because he was a high school Spanish teacher before he was involved in mixed martial arts.

The Spaniard’s message to the students is that resiliency isn’t about how many hits you can take before you fall, but just like his fictional hero Rocky Balboa, it’s the recovery coming back from the hit.

“[His] message that life’s a fight, and how you fight that fight determines where you go in life is advice that you can use forever,” Packer said. “His message was an authentic, humble, and honest example of how to cope with mental health, bullying, drug and alcohol choices, and lack of motivation.”

Brenneman shared past experiences about being bullied in school when he was younger and how he never thought he could be what he is today, but he was inspired to get into wrestling, where he became a two-time PIAA runner-up in high school. After graduating from Hollidaysburg High School in 1999, he wrestled at Lock Haven University.

Senior Jake Rice said that he also enjoyed the presentation.

“I thought he was really enthusiastic and he kept my attention the whole time,” said Rice.

Brenneman emphasized that although his visit was short, he has lots of resources designed to help students navigate the world they live in. He has an active presence on social media and produces  a podcast to inspire young people to reach their goals.

The Spaniard was a cool guy, and he understands what many high school students are going through. I think he was able to influence us to be better people

— Tyrone senior Elijah Knarr

“My student books and podcasts are meant to be tools to help students fight through adversity and challenge. To help guide them in their young lives. They’re easy and fun to read and listen to. The topics are relevant to your lives,” said Brenneman.

His books, podcasts, and videos can be found on his website as well as on Spotify and on most social media at @charliespaniard.

He also encouraged any students who liked what they heard to stay in touch.

“If you reach out to me on social media, I promise to respond. I can’t have a long conversation with everyone but I will do my best to help or direct you to those who can,” Brenneman said.

Brenneman said that he sincerely appreciated the welcome he got at Tyrone and he hopes to hear from students who were inspired by his message.

“You live in a special place, and I’m thankful to be a part of your school year. If you’d like to connect with me, you can contact me at @charliespaniard on Instagram.”

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About the Contributor
Alex Shock, Staff Writer
Alex Shock is a senior entering his first year in Eagle Eye Newspaper. This year, he is going to be active in multiple different clubs and groups. These groups consist of Youth Action Network (YAN), Golden Revolution, and the Ski Club in the winter season. All of the said clubs will surely look great on his resume when he applies for PennWest Clarion University, hoping to achieve a Master's degree in Psychology. Alex enjoys watching and playing basketball in his free time, as well as hanging out with friends and family. A fun fact about Alex is that he was born and spent the majority of his childhood in none other than Bellwood, Tyrone's biggest rival!

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