Holding a total of 19 world titles and globally known as the face of the WWE, John Cena loves nothing more than coming back to his alma mater, Springfield College. The local Massachusetts resident graduated from Springfield with the class of 1999 and has since then accomplished more than he could have ever imagined.
The now 36-year-old superstar travels the world year-round as a full-time representative and participant of the World Wrestling Entertainment industry. Having started in 2000 at Ultimate University of Ultimate Pro Wrestling based out of California, Cena wasn’t sure where this new adventure would take him. Now—13 years later serving as a role model and hero to scores of individuals all over the world—Cena returned to his roots at Springfield College to reminisce, share and inspire current SC students.
Whenever passing through town, the celebrity always seems to find time to swing through for a quick workout with the football team in the varsity weight room. Cena played center for the team during his time here, and he earned Division III All-American honors.
For junior right tackle Sean Degnan, the WWE superstar was a familiar face. Degnan first met Cena in his 2011 visit to campus. This past Friday, March 29, Degnan experienced his second personal interaction with Cena as the celebrity lifted in the SC weight room as preparation for a show in Springfield later that night.
“Last Friday was a great opportunity to work out with a Springfield legend and celebrity as popular and current as John,” Degnan shared. “The fact that he’s come to work out with our football team twice since I’ve been a part of the program is unbelievable and surreal.”
As a previous SC football player himself, this is always something Cena enjoys doing for the team, as head coach Mike DeLong was his former coach and football was a huge part of Cena’s life.
“His speech to us was very inspiring and motivating,” said Degnan. “He is such a humble and giving guy, and it’s great to see that he never forgot where he came from. My team and I idolize him and are so thankful that we had yet another opportunity to hang out and learn from such a down-to-earth Springfield football alum.”
Cena shares the same motivation that the team expresses from their encounter with the superstar. As Cena is getting older, he enjoys coming back and feels motivated by the team to continue striving for his best. Coming back and working with the team directly serves as a “fountain of youth” to Cena. It brings him back to his own college football days and makes him feel young again.
“I really truly enjoyed the time I spent as a part of the Springfield College football team,” Cena shared. “I’ve been able to do a lot in my career and I’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of things, but those are not only my favorite times at Springfield College, those are my favorite memories of all time.”
As the football team suited in their jerseys huddled around Cena in his own No. 54 SC jersey, the team indulged in his every word and embraced the amazing opportunity before them.
To some modern students, Cena’s name is right up there with other SC legends like James Naismith, Amos Alonzo Stagg and William Morgan. For many football players, last Friday’s night’s brush with the sporting celebrity will hold its own spot in their personal history book.