Escaping the Pin

By Hasti Ghasemi Vaghar, Current Staff

To this day, Cayden Henschel still doesn’t know why his life’s work vanished overnight.

Before graduating in 2020 from West Bend East High School as a state wrestling champion, Henschel maintained a popular YouTube channel dedicated to wrestling videos and tips. But in the summer of 2018, about a year after its inception, the channel was abruptly terminated by YouTube. Henschel responded by immediately creating a new channel. Now more dedicated than ever, Henschel has rebuilt his channel and currently has over 180,000 subscribers.

Henschel has always had a passion for making videos, and before his wrestling channel started, he posted videos on other channels. However, he soon noticed that not many people on the YouTube platform were vlogging their wrestling experience. Therefore, he decided to be the one who would reflect on his wrestling and share his journey and goal to compete at the state championship.

Cayden Henschel at his final high school wrestling match. Henschel won the 138-pound Division 1 title at the WIAA Individual State Wrestling tournament on Feb. 29, 2020 in Madison.

He started posting videos his sophomore year, and by the last day of the academic year, he had posted around 100 videos. He had earned a Current article and a sizable following of hundreds of subscribers before his channel was shut down on June 6, 2018.

“That was one of the hardest days I remember,” Henschel said. “It was something that every day I woke up to, and I loved tracking to see how I was doing. I loved seeing how people would respond to what I’m posting. It was almost like caring for a kid in a sense.”

Henschel never received an email from YouTube regarding the termination of his channel, and even now he does not understand the reason behind it.

However, this incident did not cause him to give up. Picking up where he left off, he posted a video on his new channel that same day, explaining his sudden disappearance. He believed he had started his channel in the first place for no other reason but to have fun and have something to look back on when he was older.

Having started wrestling in first grade, the sport has always been part of Henschel’s life and family history. Henschel’s father, Brent, was the head coach of the East wrestling team during Cayden’s high school years and continues to serve as an assistant coach. Cayden’s grandfather was also the assistant coach during the years Brent was in high school. Cayden’s older brother, Bryce, also joined him on the same wrestling team.

The Henschel family at wrestling practice. Left to right: Cayden, his father, his brothers and his grandfather.

“We had three generations working together to help him reach his goals on the mat,” Brent said. “Watching him overcome set-backs and achieve his goals, especially in dramatic fashion, is just amazing. It’s been an honor working with him all those years and watching him develop into the man he is today. We are very proud of him.”

One of Henschel’s favorite videos is a three-part video series where he vlogs about his last high school wrestling competition at the 2020 WIAA state championship. Having reached his goal of being a state champion, this video series summarizes Henschel’s prior years leading up to his ultimate goal. It is a video that hundreds of people still go back to and rewatch to be inspired. 

Henschel is continuing his wrestling journey at the University of Wisconsin–Parkside, where he is in his third year of working toward a marketing degree. Despite his future plans to make videos focused on lifestyle and fitness, he believes that no matter what, wrestling will always have a special place in the channel.

(Photos courtesy of Cayden Henschel.)

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