Josh Nolan is a superstar. Just ask his former classmates.
Nolan was voted “most likely to be a superstar” at his alma mater Quincy High School, where he graduated in 2007. Four years later, he’s living up to his title.
Standing at a modest 5’10, Nolan has the gracious, cheerful appearance of a small-town guy, true to his hometown of Quincy, Calif., a small mountain town just west of the Nevada border.
In what he has dubbed one of the highlights of his wrestling career, Nolan recently captured the individual championship in the 157-pound weight class at the regional championships, propelling him to the national championships in Kearney, Neb., and a promising finish to his final season as an SF State Gator.
Although Nolan has been wrestling since fourth grade, it took him until his junior year of high school to take the sport seriously. When it came time to decide on where to go to college, SF State seemed to be right on his level.
“I came here because I felt like it was right for me,” Nolan said. “I wasn’t too sure how I would fit in at some of the bigger schools and I felt like SF State was a good fit for me.”
Described by assistant coach Mauricio Wright as “humble,” “generous,” and “personable,” Nolan is the kind of person who gets along with just about everybody. Not to mention, he’s a capable athlete.
Wright, who outweighs Nolan by 80 pounds or more, admits that when the two face off in practice, wrestling Nolan is no easy contest.
“He’s incredibly fast and I really have to try and wrestle,” Wright said. “He’s fast and he’s resilient. He’s a talented wrestler and he’s going to be hard to replace.”
Reaching the glorious finish that was a regional title was no easy task for Nolan. He suffered numerous injuries throughout his career and underwent serious shoulder surgery, all of which Nolan refers to as “a few bumps and bruises.”
After undergoing surgery in the offseason of his sophomore year, Nolan confessed that he struggled to bounce back.
“When I came back, I wasn’t the same,” Nolan said. “I wasn’t enjoying wrestling as much as I was in the past. I kind of got to the point where I thought I needed to make some adjustments, on and off the mat. I needed to go back and figure out why I was doing this and what I wanted from it.”
Despite the difficulty of such an overbearing physical obstacle, neither Nolan’s coaches nor teammates seemed to be surprised at his eventual recovery. Isaiah Jimenez, one of Nolan’s teammates and best friends, was one of the faithful.
“I knew even though he had a few setbacks, he was going to get through it like he always did,” said Jimenez. “He’s had a lot of injuries during his whole career here, but I knew he was going to come through at the end of the season when it counted.”
Jimenez, who has known Nolan since they were on the same national team in high school, is considered part of Nolan’s extended family. The two even have a special pregame handshake.
“He’s absolutely a leader,” Jimenez said. “He’s always motivating us before the matches.”
Nolan is close to the rest of his teammates also, and explains that their special relationship outside of wrestling contributes to how well they perform on the mat.
“You see some of those other teams and they seem kind of stiff and kind of afraid, and we’re out there and we joke and have fun,” Nolan said. “When it’s business time, we are all about business, but when we have time to let loose and have some fun, we do, and I think that helps us a lot.”
A kinesiology major, Nolan aspires to someday teach and coach wrestling at whatever level he is able. Mauricio Wright has worked at various wrestling camps with Nolan, and has noticed his leadership qualities, particularly around young children.
“He works really well as an educator,” Wright said. “He’s great at being personable and fitting the role of a model and a leader. I think that’s definitely his strength.”
In spite of injuries and challenging recoveries, Nolan explained that he has no regrets in his four years as a Gator. He has somehow managed to remain amicable and dedicated, and noted that wrestling still falls in his list of top priorities.
“First comes family and friends,” Nolan said. “Then it’s wrestling, then it’s school, and then it’s extracurricular activities.”
When asked to elaborate on what kind of activities to which he referred, Nolan smiled and said, “You know, my social life.”
Nolan’s focus in preparation for the quickly approaching national championships is staying healthy and rested.
Despite facing injuries and a tough season, Nolan’s determination and will impelled him past all doubt to the national championships.
And whether he wins or loses on that fateful day in Nebraska, Nolan has already proven that he is a superstar.