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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Wrestling coach moves across the country to be at City College
City College Head Coach Marques Gales talks to the team after the match against Lassen Community College in the North Gym at City College Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. City College beat Lassen College 29–13. (Sara Nevis/[email protected])

Marques Gales uprooted his life for a new venture at City College. He moved across the country over the summer in June to become the new head coach for the Panthers wrestling team. 

Gales, 32, has made a career out of his love for wrestling and says he feels blessed to be the head wrestling coach this fall, adding that he looks forward to building on the decades of success with his athletes and assistant coaches.

“I think I’m extremely blessed coming into this situation I’m coming into,” says Gales in a email. “The staff, along with Coach Pacheco, built a foundation of success—on and off the mat, and I am looking forward to continually building on that foundation to take the program to new heights.”

Gales has been coaching for 11 years—one year at San Francisco State, three years at Springfield College in Massachusetts and six years at Trinity College in Connecticut —and says he appreciates the entire coaching staff and sees the potential in the athletes on his team. 

“I am excited 24/7 because we have a motivated team. Our guys work hard, they are attentive and well-rounded student-athletes,” says Gales. “A lot of [wrestlers] have high goals for themselves—that is individually, academically and career-wise.”

(left to right) Head Coach Marques Gales and Associate Head Coach Walter Ulrich on the sidelines during the match against Lassen Community College in the North Gym at City College Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. City College beat Lassen College 29–13. (Sara Nevis/[email protected])

Raul Ortiz, No. 1-ranked wrestler in the 141-pound weight class division, appreciates what Gales brings to the program.

“Coach Gales brings all of us together. The team and coaches are like a family,” notes Ortiz. “He spends a lot of time learning about the team and working with us.” 

Gales previously worked assisting the wrestling team at Trinity College but had been looking for a more permanent job. He moved to the Sacramento area after longtime the head wrestling coach Dave Pacheco retired earlier this year. 

“When the school offered me the position, I felt it was a no-brainer. It was a little bittersweet leaving the school I worked at before, but I just knew it would be a perfect opportunity,” says Gales. “I learned a lot and had a lot of great mentors out there that I’m still in contact with. I shared a valuable experience that I’m applying here, and I’m looking at being here until I retire.” 

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Gales, who wrestled in high school and college, didn’t always love the sport. In eighth grade, he lived on Yokota Airbase while his father was stationed in Japan. Though he loved basketball, the school on base didn’t have a basketball team—only a wrestling team, so Gales joined, thinking it would be easy. 

It turned out that it wasn’t easy, but this motivated Gales to work harder. 

“I remember the first day [thinking], ‘I do not know what I am doing,’” says Gales. “‘This is too much running’—it seemed like too much for me. I was short and chubby, had asthma, I could run a half a mile. It was so difficult, but it kept me focused. I thought, ‘Let me keep trying. I will get better.’” 

In the 10th grade, Gales moved to Fairfield, California, to wrestle Armijo High School. Originally he enrolled at Santa Rosa Community College for the cooking and wrestling programs. 

“I love to cook. Originally thought I was going to major in culinary arts, and Santa Rosa was the only school in the state with culinary arts and wrestling,” says Gales. “Eventually I found out you couldn’t do both. The culinary arts schedule won’t allow you to wrestle. It worked out—physical education and kinesiology was a better career route for me.” 

Gales describes his life as coming full circle since his freshman year of college. He initially declined an offer out of high school from coach Dave Pacheco to wrestle for City College. 

“I actually recruited him, but he chose Santa Rosa,” recalls Pacheco, who coached the Panthers for 37 years and retired last spring. “I mentored him, so he knows that if he ever has any questions, all he has to do is give me a call. I think he will do a great job.” 

Coming into a new coaching environment, Gales thought he might be stressed moving across the country, but after only a couple of weeks, Gales feels like he’s fully acclimated to the team.

“The assistant coaches have made the transition so much smoother,” says Gales. “We’re at a school where wrestling is widely respected. We’re building off a great foundation that David Pacheco left. He was the coach for 37 years here.”

“I’m just carrying forward with that, and it’s not like I’m having to start from scratch with that,” Gales adds. “[I’m] looking forward to continuing to build off that success and blessed to have great assistant coaches.” 

Additional reporting by Keyshawn Davis

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