Most people don't know what a day in the life of a wrestler looks like. Wrestlers, of course, have hard practices and workouts. Then, they also have a heavy schedule of classes.
Sophomore wrestler Jesse Vasquez is trying to show the world what those days can look like.
A dominant force on the mat, Vasquez is using his multitude of passions to build wrestling's notoriety, as well as his brand through his YouTube channel and a series of vlogs he posts.
"Wrestling isn't a huge sport, so we don't get as much recognition," Vasquez said. "It has never been a huge platform like football or basketball in terms of popularity."
Vasquez, a 141-pound sophomore from Corona, California, has always had a knack for wrestling. In 2019, he was the second-ranked wrestler in the nation.
Last season, Vasquez went 7-1 in his first season on Varsity before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury. Although Vasquez found early success on the mat, he was disappointed by the lack of popularity of collegiate wrestling.
During the 2021-22 season, the average wrestling attendance was 1,411 compared to the average basketball attendance of 7,973. Despite the numbers, the wrestling team had a memorable 2021-22 season, winning their fifth PAC-12 title in six years.
However, the lack of eyes on his craft prompted Vasquez to help grow the popularity of wrestling in his own way by becoming a YouTuber.
"Music and film have always been huge passions of mine. When I was in middle school, I wanted to take the time to learn how to edit," Vasquez said. "At first, I didn't know what I was doing, but over time I self-taught myself how to edit and use a camera."
Just three years ago, Vasquez put his skills to the test and uploaded his first YouTube video. His channel is a mix of short clips and vlogs highlighting his time as a student-athlete. In just a few years, the channel amassed 1,980 subscribers and serves as a platform for Vasquez to build his brand. It also helped boost Vasquez’s Instagram following to 8,453 as well.
"What made me really want to start YouTube is the fact that it is an independent career," he said. "I always wanted to market myself in a way that people interested in wrestling can understand what it takes to be a wrestler and everything that goes into it."
By growing his brand and the wrestling team, he has been able to make extra money, while also putting him in the picture for potential name, image and likeness (NIL) deals over the summer.
"Now brands reach out to me via Instagram because the engagement on my platform is off the chain. I've got so many deals over the summer and a lot more money in my pocket just through Instagram and YouTube," Vasquez said. "That's kind of the reason why I want to continue doing YouTube because it's bringing in multiple sources of income for me."
Although YouTube is one way for student-athletes to take advantage of NIL deals, head coach Zeke Jones believes it is a great way to build team chemistry in the locker room.
"I've seen some of his video work, though. It's really good," Jones said. "He praises others, and he doesn't make it just about himself. He cares about his team, and I think the guys like him and respect him for that. He's truly a team guy, and he motivates the others on the team because of it."
Vasquez’s latest vlog from Wednesday, August 21 currently has over 200 views and features clips from practice and of redshirt senior Michael McGee, who is a two-time All-American and his best friend.
"You're more comfortable with someone who's actually your friend," McGee said. "Jesse is my best friend, so when he has a camera out, I don't really think too much of it because it's normal at this point for me."
It is no mystery that Vasquez will continue to document his career as a Sun Devil. He plans on diversifying his content from vlogs to skits and believes YouTube to be a platform where he can actively pursue all his hobbies.
"This year, I want to evolve my content from just vlogs to Skits and other kinds of videos. I'm kind of using YouTube as a universal platform to achieve all my hobbies," Vasquez said. "I have hobbies in music, film, philanthropy and just giving back to people. I can do so much with it, which is why I enjoy it."
Edited by Walker Smith, Wyatt Myskow and Kristen Apolline Castillo.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com.
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