From Kean Football Team to WWE
Orlando (standing in the ring to the left) during a match.
By Lauren Spain
Balancing being a college athlete and a full-time student is difficult enough, but for senior football player Mike Orlando, it’s just the beginning. He balances being a student, a college athlete, while also pursuing his dream of becoming a professional wrestler.
Orlando began playing football his sophomore year of high school and went on to becoming a valuable asset to Kean University’s football team’s offensive line. Football gave him an outlet and a focus, as well as the opportunity to succeed in school.
Despite playing football for so long, Orlando enjoyed wrestling more. He began wrestling his freshman year of high school, and with the support of his friends, family and coaches, he continues to advance with the sport.
“My dad was a fan as were my brothers too, so I kind of was born into it and it was always something that I wanted to do,” said Orlando. “When I came to college is when I decided to actually go and pursue it.”
Orlando said that even though NCAA rules made it difficult to maintain his image in the wrestling world during season, his coach, Dan Garrett, supported him throughout his journey.
“Coach always stayed on top of what I did and convinced me to take the chance and actually go and do it,” said Orlando.
Balancing school, football and a professional career is not easy for the 23-year-old.
Orlando is set to graduate in the spring of 2015 with a degree in criminal justice. However, his main focus will continue to be wrestling for a while.
“Criminal justice is kind of my backup,” Orlando said. “Believe it or not, you do need a degree to succeed in the wrestling world. It is a business and criminal justice is something I have to fall back on.”
Outside of sports, Orlando enjoys his downtime. He described himself as being calm and relaxed, and when he is not focused on sports, he’s either at the beach or spending quality time with his family.
With his use of social media outlets, he is able to keep his image in the focus of companies and potential sponsors. Orlando plans to forward with his wrestling career after graduating. He’ll continue training with Old Time Wrestling in Atlantic City and work on establishing his independent contract.