Article By: JEFF MOELLER Special to the Press
Among all of their individual honors, both Ben Nosal and Ryan Greene shared some common thoughts about their life lessons through athletics as recently graduated student-athletes at Catasauqua.
“Through athletics, I now know I can handle situations in life better,” said Nosal. “You learn about morals and values and how to apply and realize them in life. Sports also taught me to keep working at something even if you are not succeeding with it initially.
“I learned about being a team player and being able to do what I need to do and what I can do,” said Greene. “Catty is a town of a lot of traditions and you realize what they can mean to any community, and how you can appreciate them.”
For their efforts on and off the fields and mats, both Nosal and Greene are the co-recipients of the Catasauqua Press Male Athlete of the Year Award.
Nosal, who excelled in football and wrestling, credited his older brothers, Shawn and Jared, for getting him involved in wrestling and football.
The youngest Nosal certainly can be referred to as a late bloomer in both sports. He didn’t begin wrestling until the sixth grade and rediscovered his football career in ninth grade.
“They (brothers) played sports and they always wanted me to go out,” said Nosal. “I really wasn’t that interested. My brothers finally encouraged me to try it.
“When I started, I wasn’t very good, but I began to like it. I finally started getting serious about the sport in eighth grade.”
From there, Nosal began a stellar career that culminated with a trip to the state tournament this past spring. He finished second at districts and fifth in regionals in 220-pound weight class.
“Getting to the district final was always a dream of mine,” Nosal said. “That was just where I wanted to be. Then I got to states and that was super special for me. I really can’t put those experiences into words. It was what I worked toward.
“Wrestling was tough at the beginning, but all the hard work paid off in the long run. I just worked to stay with it and my brothers and family helped me along the way. I really grew to like what I was doing.”
Football also came as a late surprise. Nosal went out in seventh grade, but he quit the team. Like wrestling, it was a matter of taking a second chance and gaining maturity. He played as a freshman with older brother Jared, who was a senior on the district championship team in 2014.
“I was still a kid, but I began to grow up,” said Nosal, who was a lineman. “It was an awesome experience being with my brother on that team. I began to realize what I needed to do and how to be a leader. I learned what it was like to be part of a winning team.
“There definitely were a lot of good leaders on that team that were looked up to by the younger players. I knew what kind of characteristics embodied the team and the players.”
Nosal took it upon himself to step forward in his last two years with the team. However, the same results didn’t materialize as the team struggled the past few seasons.
“It was frustrating,” he said. “I began to understand what it took to get back to that stage. But I also learned from the experience. We lost more than we should, but you find out more about yourself.”
“Ben (Nosal) really has grown over the years,” said Catty wrestling head coach Kyle Rusnock. “He realized his potential and took advantage. He worked very hard and has matured into a solid young man.”
Greene also became involved in sports in an unorthodox manner. His father, Jason, enrolled him and his older brother, Devin, in wrestling in third grade.
“My dad dropped my brother and I at the wrestling room one day,” said Greene. “I was in third and grade and my brother was in fourth. We both were playing football at the time. It was a great experience for both of us. We really both loved the sport from the start.”
It was the first step of a lengthy and successful career that produced 107 career wins. Greene placed at districts the past three years, finishing third as a sophomore (132) and senior (145) and fifth as a junior (138). Greene also finished sixth at regionals during his sophomore year and made a trip to the state tournament.
“It felt good that I knew I was getting better with it (wrestling),” said Greene. “It was great to get to states. That was a main goal for me”
Rusnock was optimistic Greene would excel.
“He (Greene) really came around as a wrestler,” Rusnock said. “He understood what it took to get to the next level and got there. He always had a tough bracket, but he worked through it.”
His experiences proved beneficial in many ways.
“My brother and I really helped each other,” he said. “It was a good, friendly competition between us and it made both of us very competitive. Playing football also helped me adjusting to being in front of crowds and being out there on the mat.
“I began to deal with pressure and realized that I could be good at the sport. Wrestling was a matter of being able to strategize because no one can help you out there. I really loved it.”
Greene began playing flag football in kindergarten and then followed his brother to the regular program. He shifted a position from grade school to his wide receiver spot in high school, where Greene caught 64 passes this past season and finished with 130 catches for his career.
“He played and I was expected to play,” he said. “But I did want to play. I was a quarterback until I got to high school. I really liked it because of the responsibilities and I liked being on the field a lot. I liked getting the ball every snap and taking a leadership role.
“Once I got to high school, I became a receiver. I thought about being a quarterback, but I was too short for it.”
Greene also was a member of the district championship team, and he was disheartened with his senior season on the field.
“We just lost it,” he said. “I don’t know how it happened. But I’ll still have good memories from growing up with the program.”
Greene plans to pursue a nursing career at Lehigh Carbon Community College in the fall, while Nosal will pursue a business administration/management degree at Bloomsburg University.
“Competitive sports are over for me,” said Nosal. “I’ll still keep working out and plan to help out with the high school team over the winter. I have thought about coaching one day and maybe when I get older it could happen. It definitely was a good run at Catty.”
“It hit me now that high school is over,” said Greene. “It is hard to let go, but you have to move on with it. I feel a little strange being an alumnus, but Catty was a special time for me.”