From Behind The Camera to Jiujitsu

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Senior Kole Valignota has started to make a name for himself with his videography. His popular football Instagram videos have been seen by students from Batavia, Geneva, Yorkville and Oswego. Besides filming and editing, Valignota participates in wrestling and uses some of his Jujitsu skills to take on challenging opponents. Valignota is the oldest of his family and he has a supportive sister that goes to the Kaneland Harter Middle School.


“She pushes me forward. She likes my videos. She brings more support from the middle-schoolers,” Valignota said.


Valignota’s career goal is to become a videographer. He has a passion for videography which has grown from his past experience in video editing.


“Around fifth or sixth grade I used to make gaming videos, then I used to go through skits with my buddies in middle school. It became more of just making vlogs. I didn’t really like the video part but I liked the editing part so I worked on doing more music videos toward my sophomore year,” Valignota said.


Videography is expensive. Valignota had to work hard and sell things in order to save a good amount of money to afford a good recording setup and feel comfortable with his savings. Valignota used to work for the fast-food restaurant Culvers but he questioned himself. He asked himself if this was the job he saw himself doing in the future. He wanted to do something he enjoyed doing. One of his teachers, Kenneth Paoli, gave him some advice.


“I do remember Mr. Paoli telling me that, if you do what you like, the money will follow, and I think that’s something key,” said Valignota.


Valignota’s career goal is to become a videographer. He is motivated by the current popularity shift.


 “One day I can get really big. Right now at this time, videography is getting super huge and really crazy. Everyone is blowing up right now,” Valignota said.


Valignota focuses on Instagram to post and get his work some attention and maybe some job opportunities.  As much as he enjoys it, he works hard at creating and editing videos for people and school events. Senior Derek Vaca gave a jump start to Valignota’s videography career goal. 


“He’s more of an outsider in the school. He knows more people in Aurora, wherever the hip-hop culture lives. He got my name out there and he got me people to do videos for,” Valignota said.


They’ve known each other ever since third grade and are still good friends.


“We go to Jalisco’s a lot in Aurora … We just find something to do whenever we’re together,” Vaca said. 


Vaca describes Valignota’s character as “goofy” and “never serious”. Besides hanging out with friends and creating videography, Valignota likes to wrestle. Valignota is in the school wrestling team and he competes against many challenging opponents. He joined the team and took Jujitsu classes because of a bullying incident that happened when he was a freshman.


“I was a freshman and there were seniors. They stole my food one time and it just sucked being skinny …  I was small and I knew seniors could pick on me. I took Jujitsu classes, mainly focusing on the ground of self-defense … wrestling just makes my Jujitsu even better,” Valignota said.


His wrestling training and his Jujitsu skills take him far when competing.


“Coming from Jujitsu his matches were very interesting and entertaining because he would get into some weird positions that you don’t traditionally see in wrestling,” wrestling coach Paoli said.


Valignota wrestled in a lot of tense matches and coach Paoli remembers a lot of them. One of the more memorable matches is one of his first varsity wins at a Sycamore tournament.


“It was kind of like a back and forth match, and it was close. He used a lot of skills that I taught him that I thought would be beneficial from transferring over from Jujitsu. He ended up getting a nice victory,” Paoli said.


Today, Valignota likes to compete as a wrestler and he still works as a passionate videographer who sees himself living nearby urban hip-hop culture.

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