This feature appeared in the Nov. 17, 1993, issue of the Aztec Press, Pima Community College’s weekly student newspaper.

Marine brings discipline to wrestlers

By Ed M. Odeven

How many 28-year-old guys do you know that have served nine-year stints in the military and then come back to school?

How many 28-year-old guys have traveled to Bogota, Colombia, Mexico City, the Philippines and Algiers, Algeria?

Well, such is the case for Pima Community College wrestler Alex Catalan. He has served in the United States Marine Corps and now wants to try something different.

Currently, Catalan is on reserve with the Marines, but is now concentrating on school.

He works out in the 142-weight class on the Aztec wrestling club.

Catalan is hitting the books for six-credit hours this semester and plans to double his load next semester.

His time is spent between school, work and volunteering as a wrestling coach at Salpointe Catholic High School, he said.

Catalan is a 1983 graduate of Sunnyside High School. His tandem partner throughout practice is Chris Murray. The twosome thrive on each other’s competitive nature.

‘He’s a tough guy to wrestle. Chris and I learn from each other,” Catalan said.

Catalan plans to earn an associate’s degree in business at PCC. Eventually, he would like to transfer to the University of Arizona and major in early childhood education.

“Wrestling is a motivational activity that will help him in life,” said wrestling coach Federico Sanchez.

Growing up, Eddie Urbano, a longtime friend of Catalan, proved to be a positive factor. The two wrestled together in high school.

“He’s been the biggest influence on me. He’s the hardest worker I know,” said Catalan. “He’s the best wrestler to come out of the state.”

Urbano was a state champion coming out of Sunnyside High School and repeated that feat up at Arizona State University.

Wrestling has been an enjoyable activity for Catalan.

According to Catalan, the sport is great to build character and self-discipline.

“Wrestling is a one-on-one sport. You make mistakes, people know it. You take the glory or the heat,” said Catalan.

Being a 28-year-old freshman doesn’t bother Catalan. He doesn’t feel out of place or old.

When he left active duty, Catalan was ranked as a sergeant. The military gave him experiences to apply to his new academic career.

“I had some opportunities other didn’t have. I saw, first-hand, many cultures,” he said.

Marine experiences have given Catalan a chance to bring his wrestling and educational training to help others.

Catalan wrestled in the past two years for Fila, a freestyle wrestling team based in Phoenix.

As a Marine, Catalan wrestled and stayed in shape by studying Aikido, an Oriental form of self-defense.

Today, Salpointe Catholic High School gets the benefit of having Catalan as a volunteer wrestling coach. Other members of the PCC men’s wrestling team give time and effort to represent the community in other high schools.

“We let students know that we have a wrestling program. Hopefully they can get scholarships,” Catalan said.

“Youth lack self-esteem and discipline,” he said.

Wrestling is an alternative to aggressive gang activities, he said.

Wrestling is an all-year activity for members of the PCC wrestling squad. November through March, the wrestlers concentrate on college wrestling. Another former of wrestling, free-style wrestling, goes on during the rest of the year.

Running and cycling are good training activities, said Catalan, who also lifts weights.

Besides the opportunity to see the world and learn a variety of things, including attending meetings in Washington, D.C., with Dan Quayle and Ronald Reagan, Catalan has other long-range goals.

“I would like to work for the Tucson Fire Department,” said Catalan.

Meanwhile, the wrestling team has the chance to be successful if it concentrates on techniques and works hard, he said.