Matt "Sunshine" Fiordirosa has always been a winner.
He was a four-time state wrestling qualifier for the Grant High School Bulldogs, in Fox Lake, racking up an amazing 154-13 record. His career in the octagon as a mixed martial arts fighter was 13-1. Now, he's taking that bulldog-like mentality to the coaching realm.
At 26 years old, he is the head varsity wrestling coach at Lake Forest High School and may be the youngest head wrestling coach in the area.
Fiordirosa was an assistant coach for two years.
"I applied for the head coaching job, basically, it was that I have the credentials to be a head coach," he said. "But I still looked too young to be a head coach."
Coaching at Lake Forest has been an experience in rebuilding for him.
"When I got to Lake Forest it was like starting from scratch, trying to get rid of some of the bad habits that kids had developed. My philosophy with anything is you have to work for it, no matter what," he said. "I know how to go hard, I know how to do the fundamental things and to stay on the grind."
Fiordirosa is finishing up his teaching degree at Trinity International University in Deerfield. He is student teaching at Big Hollow Middle School in Ingleside and wants to be a P.E. teacher. The kids at Big Hollow have seen videos of his fighting career and ask to call him "Mr. Sunshine."
"I promised myself that before I ever committed myself fully back to fighting again, I'd finish my degree. The main thing I wanted to do was teach. Some of the most influential people in my life have been teachers," he said.
Fiordirosa graduates in May, and hopes to take his degree and his coaching experience and do what he's done his whole life -- go to school and coach.