Alex Coriano built off one moment in in his wrestling career.
He doesn't think about what might have been or use it as an excuse for failure. Coriano lost the IHSAA 125-pound state championship, 7-1, to Lawrence North's Jason Smith. It was a match where he made a mistake and it cost him, but he used that as a springboard.
"I was upset because I thought I was the better wrestler," Coriano said. "I think by getting second, that made me work harder and I wanted to prove that I was better." "When I got to Purdue, there were a lot of state champs and I was a second-place (guy). That pushed me to work even harder."
Recruited as a walk-on, Coriano went on to earn a scholarship at Purdue. His 40 wins in 1996 were the program's single-season record until two years ago. He qualified for the NCAA tournament three times and was a two-time captain for the Boilermakers.
After college, Coriano still had more to prove on the mat so he went on to wrestle for Puerto Rico's national team. A four time Puerto Rican National Champion, he competed internationally in the Central American Games, Pan-American Games, and just missed making the Olympics in 2000.
He earned a degree in industrial design at Purdue and turned his education and creativity into a career. Coriano is a senior industrial designer and project lead in IDEO’s Bay Area location. IDEO is an award-winning global design firm that takes a human-centered, design-based approach to helping organizations in the public and private sectors innovate and grow. Before that, he worked in Chicago at Lund and Company as a toy and game inventor.
"Designing toys was fun because I enjoy drawing and building protoypes plus I am kind of like a big kid," Coriano said. "I think it was great that I got my start designing toys for a living. When I came to IDEO, I also invented toys."
He now is with the company's general design community working in teams across many industries as a designer and project lead. He also works closely with clients, which requires research and travel.
To stay in shape and give back to the sport of wrestling, Coriano teaches takedowns to MMA fighters at El Nino Training Center in San Francisco, home of UFC fighter Gilbert Melendez and the Scrap Pack.
"I try and stay on the mat at least once a week and share my knowledge of wrestling," he said. "The fighters I work out with are hungry to learn and in return I learn the art of fighting."
Five years ago, Coriano combined his passion for design and sports and teamed up with his business partner Craig Diamond of Diamond MMA to create protective gear for athletes.
"We started out designing fight shorts and gloves for fighters but found a need in the market for better groin protection. Craig and I created the Diamond Compression Jock System which has a patented four strap jock sewn into compression shorts and includes an athletic cup that can be used for all sports."
His passion for wrestling and art was first established when he was in Scott Middle School.
"My art teacher Mr. John Pimentel encouraged me to use my creativity as well as to try out for the wrestling team," Coriano said. "Mr. P was also the wrestling coach and chess coach, he moved up with us to Morton and encouraged us in the classroom and on the mat."
Coriano said he often draws and colors with his two boys Alejandro and Enzo, tells them wrestling stories as a youth and teaches them how to play chess.