- B.A.: English, California University of Pennsylvania
- M.A.: English, Cal U
Natali has earned 36 credits toward his doctor of arts in creative writing from Carnegie Mellon University, where he also taught composition.
In 1980, he began working for Ohio magazine, for which he eventually became a contributing editor. Writing in the creative nonfiction genre, Natali has published two books and numerous features, essays, human-interest stories, memoirs, short stories, issue pieces and profiles.
Natali won a 1981 Excellence in Journalism award in general reporting from the Press Club of Cleveland and Sigma Delta Chi, the national journalism honor fraternity. In 1994, the Central Ohio Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Ohio State University School of Journalism honored him for his sports reporting. Natali's essay/tone poem, "Iron Valleys," was included among the "Notable Essays" in Best American Essays of 1988, a volume edited by Annie Dillard.
In "How to Write the Personal Essay," a Writer's Digest article, writer, editor and Colorado State University Professor John Calderazzo said, "Alan Natali's ‘Iron Valleys' evokes a fabulous personal world of clanging steel and demonic creativity to show you the role that hopes and dreams played in a factory town in its prime. He concludes by writing not about himself but about the dismantling of the community's imagination. He's a witness, a stand-in, for those of us who weren't there to see it ourselves."
In 1995, Natali, a former team captain and all-star linebacker at Cal U, published "Woody's Boys." The book is a collection of interviews with and profiles of famed individuals in the history of football at Ohio State University during the tenure of Woody Hayes. The book became a kind of eccentric biography of the legendary Hayes.
The Wall Street Journal wrote, "For football fans ... ‘Woody's Boys' scores a touchdown." The Columbus Dispatch called the book "insightful and inspiring." The Dayton Daily News said, "If ‘Time and change will surely show how firm thy friendship,' it's in this fine collection of memories of a great coach."
Natali's second book, "Brown's Town", a biography of Paul Brown, founder of the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, was published in 2001. Midwest Book Review called "Brown's Town" "indispensable to anyone with an interest in football, or to anyone who wants to read narrative biography at its best. Like Paul Brown, Alan Natali is a master of his field."
At California University, Natali, former faculty adviser to the California Times and Flipside magazine, has taught various composition, literature and professional writing classes. Each semester for 10 years, his Publishing the Magazine class produced Flipside, the magazine of California University's professional writing program. In 1995, Flipsidewas named "Best College Literary/Art Magazine" and "Best Overall College Magazine" in the American Scholastic Press Association's annual college journalism competition. In 1996, the California Times took a "First Place with Special Merit" in the same competition. Four times in the past five years, Sigma Tau Delta, the national English honor society, has named Natali its outstanding professor.
In 2003, WOSU, the PBS television station in Columbus, and the Crouse Entertainment Group turned "Woody's Boys" into a documentary film. "Beyond the Gridiron: The Life and Times of Woody Hayes" aired locally in 2003 and nationally three years later. Natali was featured prominently in the film, the only writer to appear on camera.
Natali is currently negotiating with Orange-Frazer Press, his publisher, on another book.