Call him State Champion, call him YouTuber, call him a future All-American, call him UW Parkside’s Cayden Henschel.
As a sophomore in high school, Henschel found his life centered pretty strictly around two things outside of eating and sleeping: watching YouTube videos and wrestling. He was yet to reach State champion status, but he was excelling at the sport, and he was too young to have career goals in mind, but he sure did love the idea of a YouTube channel and supporting the wrestling community.
“I always kind of wanted to do YouTube because I’d always be watching it and all of the creators that I’d watch and loved their vids, so I thought, why can’t I do this?” Henschel asked. “I knew that you picked up a camera, you edit, and I was into wrestling at the time - I’ve been wrestling for 14 years now - and I thought it would all link together. Through that, I obviously want to make that into a career because I do enjoy it; I love making videos and I love building that community.”
Now in his second year at UW Parkside, Henschel is still one of the few YouTubers strictly focusing on collegiate wrestling content. Sure, Roman Bravo-Young and Jesse Vasquez, among others, have started channels of their own, but Henschel has been the most consistent content creating wrestler for over five years now.
“It started off slow, like anything, and I’d always get looks being at meets holding a camera and talking into it and whatnot, but honestly, I didn’t even care,” Henschel said. “I love doing it. Eventually a lot of regional teams took notice, and they want to be a part of it. Everywhere I go, it’s like someone has seen the vids. It’s kind of cool to make a connection with people.”
Receiving looks from coaches, parents, teammates and other wrestlers has always been the norm for Henschel, and it was almost expected going into it. Wrestling mats in the Midwest are a long way from the bright lights of LA.
It may be an individual sport but it has never been much of an individualistic sport.
“It’s definitely challenging, that’s for sure, but I’m nonchalant with it,” Henschel said. “I’ll set my camera up in the corner of the room and leave it recording. I’ll go in and cut out all the extra stuff I don’t want. But it is weird vlogging with the whole team and coaches there.”
The content of Henschel’s channel varies from trips to foreign countries, being in attendance for Edson Barboza’s defeat of Dan Hooker, workout sessions, deep dives into wrestling news, and more. He strategically sprinkles sub-60 second videos in with longer content and he’s never short on ideas for his favorite content.
“The majority of my content that I love making the most is my personal journey in recording dual meets, preparation, things like that,” Henschel said. “I have done some videos where I go into other wrestlers and I make stories about them and stuff like that but it’s definitely a lot harder to do stuff like that and those stories when I’m in season, but when I’m out of season that’s what I’m doing.”
As an active wrestler for the number eight ranked D-2 school, UW-Parkside, Henschel may have a pretty good thing going on YouTube, but there are heights he’d like to reach far beyond subscribers and content.
So don’t get it twisted; it’s still about the wrestling for him.
“My next goals for wrestling are to qualify for this year’s National Championship and we’re going to work to get on that podium and All-American this year,” Henschel said.
After not qualifying for State his sophomore year, he won it as a senior, he’s on a contending school’s roster with some of the best D-2 training partners around and he’s got plenty of time. There aren’t a lot of goals he hasn’t managed to check off and, fortunately for us, his subscribers will get to watch every step of the way.
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