Brothers Arturo and Carlos Anaya have served as volunteer wrestling coaches for the Somerton, Ariz. Parks and Recreation Department since 2007. The men, both test officers for U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground, wrestled in the exact same gymnasium as adolescents, and helped Somerton Middle School students earn a state championship earlier this year.
Brothers Arturo and Carlos Anaya have served as volunteer wrestling coaches for the Somerton, Ariz. Parks and Recreation Department since 2007. The men, both test officers for U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground, wrestled in the exact same gymnasium as adolescents, and helped Somerton Middle School students earn a state championship earlier this year. (Photo Credit: Mark Schauer) VIEW ORIGINAL

YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz.--Brothers Carlos and Arturo Anaya know more than most about giving back to their community.

Test officers with Yuma Proving Ground (YPG)’s Air Delivery and Munitions and Weapons Divisions, in their hometown of Somerton, Ariz. they have earned widespread acclaim for their instrumental role in creating and sustaining the immensely successful annual Somerton Tamale Festival, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships for local students.

This high profile annual event and their demanding jobs at YPG would be more work than most people could reasonably handle, yet here they are, in mid-evening on a weeknight in a middle school gymnasium. It’s late enough that the custodians have turned off the air conditioning for the evening. The air is stifling, and saturated with a humidity not often felt in the desert. Aside from the buzz of the lights high overhead, the only sound is soft talk from two men in the middle of a semi-circle of adolescent boys in gym clothes. The talk is indistinct, until finally,

“Let’s try it on three,” Arturo shouts, punctuated by a clap that reverberates across a wall full of championship banners dating back 30 years. “1, 2, 3!”

The boys spring up into adolescent kinetic energy, fanning out into wrestling circles, grappling with a new move as the Anaya brothers look in on each pair’s progress, giving on the spot pointers, encouragement, and occasional fist bumps.

Above one of the gym doors is a sign that reads, “Never, never, ever give up,” looming over the wrestlers going to the mat again and again. The same sign looked on the Anayas when they themselves were students here, members of the 1991-92 seventh grade team that won the school’s first-ever city championship for wrestling. When they advanced to Yuma’s Cibola High School, the wrestling team won its first state championship, and both Anaya brothers were runners up as individuals.

They played other sports, but wrestling captivated them the most.

“Basically, it’s a sport where you don’t need much equipment,” said Carlos. “You don’t need money, you just need to show up and do it, and be mentally strong. You have to just never give up: For some kids it comes naturally; other kids it takes years to learn.”

Both brothers then wrestled at Arizona State University: Carlos for two years, Arturo for five.

“I think in one tournament we had to wrestle each other,” recalled Arturo with a smile. “Our plan was to just go back and forth and put on a good show.”

In 2000, Arturo placed fifth in the then-Pacific 10 Conference, narrowly missing a chance to wrestle for a national championship.

For nearly 15 years they have volunteered as wrestling coaches in their old school through the Somerton Parks and Recreation Department. In their time doing this, the school has garnered at least three wrestling championships, including a state title.

“Throughout the years we had good coaches who gave us their time—baseball, cross country, wrestling,” said Arturo. “They were role models, and now we want to give back.”

“Our parents always showed us service to the community,” added Carlos. “They were always helping people, and that is what we try to do. This keeps kids off the streets, especially in the summer: Instead of wasting time playing video games all day, they get some exercise and learn a skill.”

Their volunteer time goes far beyond the confines of the gym, too.

“We fundraise,” said Arturo. “We do car washes, we get donations from the community.”

Where do they find the time to do all of this?

“We make time, I think,” said Arturo. “We also have supportive wives who let us follow our passion.”