Fiordirosa Shines In All Aspects of Life

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Fiordirosa Shines In All Aspects of Life

Image courtesy of Chicago's MMA.

Image courtesy of Chicago's MMA.

Image courtesy of Chicago's MMA.

Image courtesy of Chicago's MMA.

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Wrestling coach Matt Fiordirosa has long-been referred to as “Sunshine” within Lake Forest High School. However, many of the students here have no idea how the nickname originated or the fact that he disliked the nametag upon its beginning. “When I was wrestling in the MMA, I still had the long blonde hair, similar to the Remember the Titans quarterback, and my last name is Fiordirosa which is a little long from a marketing perspective. I was always smiling and having fun and most of the nicknames were typically more on the violent side, so Sunshine was a way for the fans to remember me,” former MMA wrestler Matt Fiordirosa responded while seemingly a bit annoyed: “I hated the nickname at the time too.”

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“That’s definitely up there,” Fiordirosa said in regard to whether or not becoming a father was the happiest moment of his life. “Everyone was telling me that it changes you and I was just like ‘Nah, I’m still gonna be me: why would I change.’ But it unexpectedly changed me for the better. I went from things were kinda all about me but now it’s what can I do to make him as happy as possible.” Luca Fiordirosa was born in April of 2018 and Fiordirosa says he’s having more fun than ever: “He’s getting more mobile and he only says ‘Dad,’ I love it,” the popular figure within the school said with a big smile.

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“Awesome.” Without hesitation, the always joyful Fiordirosa quickly and wholeheartedly answered the question over what one word would be to describe his MMA career. “It was a really cool experience; I was young and didn’t have many commitments yet.” After burning out of wrestling and dropping out of college, “Sunshine” picked up a new gig. “MMA was so cool because after getting tired of wrestling, I got punched in the face and I liked it. I was finally able to do all those type of things,” he said while laughing. “There’s just much more to MMA than strict wrestling. I could take my wrestling talents but then also learn jiu-jitsu and a few more techniques, and it was a blast.”

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Knowing he was a highly-touted wrestler at a younger age, I (kinda) jokingly asked him how soon Luca would pick up the sport. “Soon as he can walk,” Fiordirosa said with a straight face. “If it were up to me every single person in the world should have to train for a fight and have to hop in the ring. People learn a lot about themselves with discipline and all; it’s a scary thought to train for eight weeks while your opponent is trying to beat you too,” Sunshine answered in as sincere a way possible. “It’s all on you to go in the cage with nowhere to run. You have to execute and there’s something to learn about yourself from either a win or a loss.”

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Late in his career, Fiordirosa suffered a serious knee injury and had to take some time off from MMA. In order to find another cash flow, the current Lake Forest wrestling coach became a referee. In some sort of meant-to-be, fantasy story, Sunshine wound up at Deer Path Middle School for a tournament. “I had some guy come up to me who recognized me and I was told there was an opening at the high school and now I’m here.”

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That aforementioned injury ultimately was the downfall of one career and sparked the rise of another. Fiordirosa was gearing up for a fight for which he had lost 45 pounds. Sunshine trained hard for the fight and his opponent ended up not showing up. In the MMA world, this was devastating. The organization would not owe you the same cash for winning or even competing so a big cash flow was lost for this match. “So I booked a fight for the next week and tried learning a new submission only a week in advance. While I was trying the move, I pulled my leg back and I heard a pop. Turns out my PCL, MCL, and meniscus were all injured in the process and I was out for eight months.”

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Wearing his famous “Never Mistake Kindness for a Weakness” sweatshirt, Fiordirosa clearly loves his role as head coach for the Boys’ Wrestling Team at Lake Forest. When asked what his favorite part about coaching was, he jokingly responded with a grin on his face: “Winning.” The now-serious Fiordirosa added: “Actually though, just being able to instill values in these kids that they’ll have for the rest of their lives and being able to make a difference is truly special. The fun part is having kids who are willing to grow and compete. I don’t care how well we do as long as they’re going 110%.” The former Naval Academy student and highly-touted wrestler is no stranger to hard work: “By far the best thing is when you get that kid come back to you, someone who was skinnier in high school when he started, and he tells you that wrestling changed his life.”

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The always-upbeat coach thankfully leaves a profoundly positive impact on his athletes as well. Sophomore wrestler Alex Pasinato, a skilled member of this year’s impressive squad, shared only kind words when asked about “Fede’s” influence: “He’s an awfully hard-working coach. He looks out for all of us and deeply cares about each one of us as an individual.” Pasinato then commented on Sunshine’s innate ability to focus on the team’s goals too: “He turns his emotions around when he gets into the wrestling room and he gets into coaching mode: Coach Fiordirosa just wants to make us better.” With a 29-1 team record, things have certainly been working. The gym students will also repeatedly offer great things about “Mr. Fiordirosa” too. Senior George Schoettle who has been lucky enough to have numerous strength and conditioning class with “Fede” said, “At this point I consider Sunshine more of a friend. Whether it’s talking trash over college football, (Fiordirosa’s an avid Florida Gators fan) or his giving me workout advice–he’s just the man. His classes are always a blast and he encourages all his students to go 100% and meet our goals for the semester.”

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“So what do you think about the nickname now?” I asked in regards to the now universal “Sunshine” name, “As much as I didn’t like it at the time, I like it now. It sticks and as a teacher it’s awesome to be portrayed as this nice and happy guy,” Fiordirosa mentioned while chuckling. The former MMA wrestler had seen his career take all sorts of unexpected turns but just like everything else in life, he’s smiling with where he’s at: “I lucked out man, I’m so happy here.”