Virchis is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Theater Arts at Southwestern College and Artistic Director Producer at Teatro Máscara Mágica, lives in Chula Vista.
The family tree has many different branches going in different directions, but it is rooted in centuries of cultural soil. This story is about two amazing branches that grow from this Latino family and the incredible young man who, through hard work and family support, has risen to the top of one of the branches of the family tree of the fight. Mario Lopez is a successful high school television host, actor, producer, philanthropist and wrestler who will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Okla., on Saturday.
He will receive the American Citizen of Wrestling Award. The family of wrestlers welcome him! Lopez graduated from Chula Vista High School as a Spartan in 1991 and was inducted into the Chula Vista Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 and the California State Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2010.
He participated in theater and wrestling and was a champion wrestler at Chula Vista High. In his freshman year, he was the Metro Conference Champion and Most Valuable Wrestler. He placed fifth in the California Interscholastic Federation and fifth in the master’s, but he got injured so he couldn’t go to the state championship tournament that year even though he had 36 wins for 3 losses. In his senior year, he took first place in the Metro Conference and first place in the Metro Conference Tournament and first place in the California Interscholastic Federation Tournament. He too placed second at the Masters and placed seventh at the California State Championship.
The story is amazing because he could only wrestle a few days a week when he was a junior and senior because he was filming a TV series, “Saved by the Bell”. His character, AC Slater, was a student athlete and he promoted wrestling as much as he could on the show. Millions of kids have seen the power of this sport that was so rarely mentioned in other high school movies or TV shows. Most athletes and sportspeople in the media are football or basketball players.
Lopez grew up in Chula Vista and never forgot her Mexican roots. Her mother Elvia and her father Mario Lopez Sr. were the basis of her commitment to family. His mother accompanied him everywhere – to dance, to wrestle or to play. Grades have always been important to Lopez and her family. He was his school president in his college. He started acting when he was 9, and he’s the only guy I know in show business who’s never been unemployed. Today, he’s an incredible family man, and he has three beautiful children with his talented and beautiful wife Courtney, whom he met during his Broadway debut in the hit musical “A Chorus Line.” He has a daughter and two sons. His eldest son is following in his footsteps in wrestling and martial arts. He is also a very good actor and his older sister sings like an angel.
Lopez’s family branch was featured on KPBS in the Ancestry series in March. The show mentioned his immigrant ancestry and even dated back to conquering Mexico with his family!
I am deeply humbled and honored to be the one to present him at the Hall of Fame presentation. I was also honored to be one of his coaches and behind me in Oklahoma will be the spirits of his other coaches, like Gabriel Ruiz, his youth wrestling coach, the Coaches from Chula Vista High School like Darell McPherson who he had in first and second grade, and of course one of the greats, Art Stone, and Troy Vierra, who coached Lopez when he was junior and senior with me!
Mario Lopez is an incredible role model for any young person who wants to fulfill their dreams. With hard work, discipline, perseverance, intelligence, sacrifice, and a strong family commitment, you too can be at the top of the mountain and one of the few in the Wresting Hall of Fame. World champion and Olympic champion and three-time NCAA champion and who has lost only one game in his life, Dan Gable said: “Once you have struggled, everything in life is easy.