Where are They Now: Terry Tuzzalino

Posted: November 2, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

We recently caught up with one of Capo Wrestling’s all time greats, Terry Tuzzalino.  He was a state runner-up for Capo in the mid 90’s under Coach Joe Zeller:

Terry Tuzzalino and wife Desiree, after he competed at a Fire and Police MMA competition.

Terry Tuzzalino and wife Desiree, after he competed at a Fire and Police MMA competition.

1) What years did you wrestle at Capo, and how did you do during your wrestling career?

The years I wrestled are from 1990 – 1994.

During those years my accomplishments included the following:

-3rd place South Coast League (Junior)

-1st place South Coast League (Senior)

-5th place CIF Div 1 (Junior)

-1st place CIF Div 1 (Senior)

-State Qualifier CIF Masters- Southern Section (junior)

-State Qualifier CIF Masters- Southern Section (Senior)

-California CIF State Runner-up (Senior)

-State Runner-up for Freestyle State Championships.

-Traveled to Fargo, North Dakota for the Freestyle Junior National Championships Representing California.

2) What was your best memory of high school wrestling?

Being in the championship round of my senior year at State.  After the consolation rounds were completed, I returned back to University of Pacific in Stockton and my coach, Joe Zeller, brought me into the main entrance together to show me where I was going to be wrestling that night. When we walked in up to the railing at the top floor of the arena, it was breath taking. The tournament directors had brought in more seats for the fans where all the other mats used to be.  There was now only one huge mat in the center with all the lights on it. I was thinking to myself, “that is where I’m going to perform tonight, and I’ll been seen by hundreds of people.”  It gave me chills.

3) Where has life taken you since then? What is your vocation now, and what path did you take to get there? Family?

Life has taken me in many directions. I’ve made good and bad choices throughout my life. I have learned from the bad and have been successful from the good. From highschool I continued my wrestling career at Santa Ana Junior College where i studied Fire Science. During those two years I was state Runner-up two years in a row. Following my junior college accomplishments I recieved a few calls from numerous colleges offering me different scholarships. I chose to take a year off and work. I don’t know what I was thinking but things happen for a reason and the following year I decided I wasn’t satisfied with second place all the time. I just happened to get a call from SFSU head coach after their victory at the NCAA Div II championships. He told me they had won the whole thing and would like me to come to their school to be a part of the team next season. I was sold at that point.

So for the next three years I endured injuries and a real tough time keeping up with my grades. I discovered during my time in college after some tests, that I suffer from a mild learning disability where I have a difficult time retaining information verbally, so lectures in college were killing me.  After I got the proper help, school wasn’t an obstacle anymore. My third year I was ranked #1 in the country for DIV II and was on a vengeance to win my title. I had been working so hard for it. I had been undefeated all the way to the NCAA DIV II Championships held in Brookings, South Dakota.

I left that meet an NCAA DIV II National Champion and had officially reached my goal.

I was content and happy, I felt that Ihad done what I had to do to get where I needed to be. I was ready to move on with a career and start my life.

During college I had worked three jobs, made it to my classes, and wrestling practice everyday. I was so busy that I didn’t have time to get into trouble. Life brings you choices and the choices we make shape us. These choices we make (whether good or bad) are how we learn what is right and wrong. I have no regrets with my life. I have made choices that have made me who I am today and I am happy with who I am.

After college I came back home to Mission Viejo to go through the Fire Academy, and then went to Paramedic School all while working as an EMT for a private ambulance company. After completing paramedic school I worked for AMR in Hemet, CA for a few months before I was finally picked up by the Los Angeles City Fire Department. This is the same Fire Department my father just retired from. I was hired in Dec 2003 and during my 9 years with the department I have met my pride and step-son, had two more children, and bought our first home in Torrance. We are happy and healthy and my wife and I enjoy watching our kids grow.

4) How did wrestling prepare you for life after high school?

I believe wrestling has played a huge part in my life. I was a very shy and timid kid throughout life. I didn’t have many friends and my self esteem wasn’t the greatest. When I got to high school I played on the football team where I learned what hard work was all about. After football my freshman year I discovered wrestling. I tried out for the team and I fell in love with it. I put on more weight and grew a few more inches. I had friends come to me and ask me about the sport and I was proud to share with them how awesome it is. Not only was this a team sport but you were out there one on one trying to be the king of the mat. It felt good to go home with a medal to show your family and friends.

Wrestling taught me respect, confidence, pride, endurance, sportsmanship, and the concept of setting short and long term goals. I had set my life goals and reached everyone of them so far. Goals setting has been a huge part getting through life. It gives me purpose and something reachable.  It gives me a sense of accomplishment.

5) What are two pieces of advice you have for current Capo wrestlers?

Take a moment to yourself and think about where you want to be in 5, 10, 20 years from now. What do you want to do, where do you want to be, how are you going to get there? Wrestling showed me how to get there. Believe in this sport.  Understand the values you gain from working together as a team and the hard work you as an individual must put in to be successful.

Understand that life is full of challenges and they seem never ending. Take them on one day at a time and don’t give up till you reach your goals.

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