Robert Colon is the physical education paraprofessional at Westbrooke Elementary School. His job duties include helping conduct lessons throughout the school day while maintaining the safety and discipline of the students. He also helps evaluate students upon participation and their behavior in class toward others. And when he’s not working at Westbrooke, he can be seen in the squared circle as a professional wrestler.
What brought you to your school?
Shortly after COVID-19, many staff and faculty members got let go from the school (where) I was working at the time due to low funds. Unfortunately, I was one of them. I transferred to a different school just before I applied to Westbrooke. I originally wanted to be here, thanks to a good friend and colleague who suggested I apply, but also because it’s closer to my other job, and where I want to move in the near future. So, I am always looking ahead. Always forward, never backward.
What do you love most about your school?
It’s really hard to pick one thing, so I’ll say two. Being able to work with kids who genuinely want to learn about physical education, when they are interested in knowing more about me or when I get challenged for a push-up contest. No. 2 would be being around my peers, making them laugh with my quirks, feeding off (one another’s) energy and making every moment count. And I lied, there’s a No. 3, and that’s the Parent Teacher Organization. They do so much for this school and for others that one can’t help but be humble and appreciative of all they do and bring to the table.
What motivates you?
One of my biggest motivators would be seeing students look forward to participating in physical education. It reminds me of when I was their age — always eager and excited to see what we would do next. Also, the students know that I wrestle some weekends out of a month; they always ask me how I did, if I won, if I am hurt and when my next show is so they can come watch. My motivation is to motivate them to be the best version of themselves they can be. To be more than average.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I would have to say when students tell me, “See you tomorrow, Coach.” It makes me feel that they want to come back, and it makes me feel appreciated.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Spending time with friends and family. I enjoy when my girlfriend persuades me to go to the theme parks. Even when I am exhausted, I still enjoy having that bit of down time. All in all, just enjoying the company of those I love and care for.
Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?
This is a tough one, but I have to say that my favorite teacher in high school had to be Mrs. Magglio, aka Magz. She is one of a kind and so pure-hearted. Magz and I would talk about wrestling all the time. Definitely one of my biggest supporters since Day 1, and to this day, she always tells me how proud she is of me, showing my matches to her kiddos.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
I wanted to be a professional wrestler. Yes, the stuff you’d see on TV. I fell in love with it and didn’t want to do anything else but that. I just love the physicality and the ability to entertain people. One of the biggest factors for me to do it was all the doubters and naysayers telling me that I would never be cut out for it. … And yet I have accomplished more than expected with it.
What is your favorite children’s book and why?
I would have to say “Holes” by Louis Sachar. I loved the story and how Stanley Yelnats’ family history, how the actions from characters in the past affect his life in the present.
What are your hobbies?
I have way too many, so I’ll just mention a few. Going to the gym, which is every morning at 4 a.m. before going to work. I also enjoy playing video games with friends, underwater hockey, lovingly forced to go when a good buddy of mine comes to town, and if time permits, I love going to the beach and bodyboarding, boogie boarding.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Is professional wrestling not a superpower? My students would beg to differ. But no, if I had to have a superpower, it would be superhuman strength. The Incredible Hulk has been a favorite of mine, and I can relate to the Bruce Banner character.
If you could only listen to three bands or artists for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
Frank Sinatra, because I am an old soul; I love oldies music. John Williams … I love listening to movie scores. I would listen to those to calm the mind. And NF: His music motivates me and speaks to me. He’s one that I’d listen to just before working out or before a match.
What was your go-to lunch as an elementary student? Any favorite snacks or special treats you remember?
My favorite lunch in elementary school was pizza and chicken tenders. Favorite snacks would’ve probably been holiday cookies with chocolate milk.
What is your favorite holiday and why?
My favorite holiday is Christmas, because I love decorating the house and trees. Especially going to the theme parks and seeing everything being transformed for the holiday season. Oh! Can’t forget the peppermint barks and coquito!
Who was your best friend when you were in school and why? Are you still in touch?
My best friend, the first kid I met in kindergarten — yes, kindergarten. My friend Daniel. We met each other when we were 5 years old in our former school in Puerto Rico, which is where I am originally from. I just remember that everyone wanted to be friends with him, and I, too, thought he was the coolest kid. To this day, we still keep in touch from time to time. Granted, we both live very different lives and are busy, but we never lost touch with one another. He is a true brother, and I am blessed that our bond is strong.
What were your extracurricular activities as a student? Did you win any accolades or honors?
I played soccer and basketball in middle school. I had played baseball since I was 7 years old all the way up to my sophomore year of high school. I played four years of varsity golf, competed my junior and senior year in varsity wrestling, as well as for track and field. I earned the Most Improved Award for golf in 2006, 2007 and the Coaches Award, as well as the Most Improved Award for track and field in 2009 and 2010. I also competed for the UCF Men’s Rugby Club and UCF Judo Club in 2016 and 2017, medaled in second in my first tournament.