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Michigan State wrestling star Chase Saldate makes social media work for him

Chase Saldate / Instagram

Saldate, one of MSU’s most popular athletes on social media, changed his posting strategy to boost his spirit and brand this season. And it worked.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Junior Chase Saldate is in the midst of a breakout season on the mat for Michigan State wrestling, but the biggest change that helped him reach these new heights might be surprising.

His social media.

Saldate’s popularity has risen over the years to nearly 400,000 followers on TikTok and over 100,000 on Instagram after starting his accounts in high school.

The Gilroy, California native wrestles at 157 pounds and compiled a 15-1 dual record this winter for the Spartans. Saldate shifted his focus on social media towards motivation and mental tips and it has made a major impact on his performance.

“It has been like a completely different Chase on the mat,” Saldate said. “My career is way better this year than the past two years and I believe I am the same wrestler that I was two years ago. The only difference is the motivation.”

While some athletes were scrambling to take advantage of new Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) laws in June 2021, Saldate had already been preparing for the moment.

“I heard about NIL a year before it was officially said and done,” Saldate said. “So that year going into it, I pushed hard on content. Really try to drive up my followers, drive up my engagement because it’s really a life-changing thing. You could give $10… any $10 is huge compared to what we were able to get. The fact that we’re allowed to legally get paid now is huge.” Through his social media, Saldate has earned NIL compensation in many forms ranging from free products to cash in exchange for promotion on his accounts. At first, he was open to any NIL opportunities that came his way, but recently he has started to focus on his brand.

“At the beginning it was really random,” Saldate said. “I was accepting a lot of stuff, but now I’m really solidifying it’s workout stuff. I try to stick with four or five things for three months at a time. I don’t want to be one of those accounts that just posts a bunch of ads.” Saldate isn’t just looking to keep that spotlight to himself, he’s focusing on sharing the love.


“If I’m wrestling with (the team), then I like to tag them because it’s helping everybody out. I’d like everybody to get NIL deals and do good.” Saldate said.

Saldate’s push goes behind tagging his teammates in his own posts, he’s trying to push their accounts as well.

“Whenever I have the chance, I always try to support,” Saldate said. “(Cameron) Caffey started live streaming on Twitch, so I posted it on my Instagram story two times to go check out my boy’s Twitch.”

Caffey also understands the importance of social media when it comes to NIL and while he admits that he isn’t the greatest social media expert, he still makes sure to utilize the tool.

“I’m definitely nowhere close to Chase’s level,” Caffey said. “He’s really good at what he does, but I’m better than a lot of people.”

While followers might seem like the most important aspect of the social media trade, it’s engagement that matters in the end.

“Engagement isn’t really a metric that most people track, but it’s pretty important,” Caffey said. “If you don’t have people actually liking the post or commenting on the post, it’s like ‘Who are you really reaching?’”

Today, the majority of companies working with these athletes are using social media and their platforms to not only find their customers, but also find the athletes to promote them.


“Social media is the whole thing,” Caffey said.”Your social media presence dictates your NIL marketability, so if you don’t have a social media presence, it doesn’t matter how good you are.”

While success in the sport isn’t the only factor of growing on social media, it certainly doesn’t hurt, especially when it comes to the motivational content that Saldate thrives with.

“People buy into it more when they see me preaching it and then actually using it in a match.” Saldate said.

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