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September 27th, 2011 by Tom

Tom Stockdale Longtime wrestling coach and retired teacher nominated for Barrie Sports Hall of Fame


Asked to pick one special memory or moment that stands out more than any other from his more than 30 years of coaching wrestling, understandably Tom Stockdale at first seems overwhelmed with the question.

"There's so many wonderful things about coaching individuals, "said the retired Portage View Elementary School teacher, who coached the school wrestling team from 1980 until 2006.

After collecting his thoughts, Stockdale has his answer.

"I'm going to come back to one thing that really always stuck in my mind, "he said of a 15-year-old memory.

Stockdale recalls that he had taken his Portage View wrestling team to the provincial championships. With so many matches taking place on several mats at the same time, he was going from surface to surface.

Stockdale hadn't any time to talk to the other coaches. One of the matches is set to start and his wrestler is out there shaking hands before they begin.

He looks across to see who the coach is from an Oshawa-area school and he finds the coach looking right at him.

"He hadn't come up to me, hadn't said a thing, because he wanted to see what my reaction would be, "Stockdale explained.

Standing there was Quinten MacPhell, a former wrestler whom he had taught and coached at Portage View.

"As soon as he saw me look at him, he started laughing, "Stockdale said. "This was the first person that I had actually coached against that was somebody I had already taught and coached. It was kind of neat. It was really good.

"That let me know that I was doing the right thing."


Thanks to Stockdale, there are several Quentin MacPhells in our school's today giving back to the sport like Stockdale, a former wrestler himself, has.

"That's probably the most gratifying thing, "he said of seeing his students now coaching other students.

All this makes it easy to understand why Stockdale has been nominated for induction into the Barrie Sports Hall of Fame as a builder and is being considered for this year's Local Lifetime Achievement Award.

"It's pretty impressive, "Stockdale said of the nomination, which he admits is a pleasant surprise. "It's really very kind. There are so many other people that deserve their recognition as well, so this is very nice. It took me back."

What really takes you back is when you look at all Stockdale has done for wrestling in Simcoe County at the elementary and high school levels.

An instrumental coach behind the Kempenfelt Bay Wrestling Club and an assistant wrestling coach at Barrie Central Collegiate since his retirement, Stockdale's resume is as impressive as it gets.

He led the Portage View Panthers to seven Simcoe County championships, a special feat considering the event often draws more competitors than the provincial championships.

Under his guidance, Portage View wrestlers captured more than 80 medals at various provincial championships. Not bad for someone who first took to the mat himself back in 1964 as a way to keep in shape.

"I think it was because I liked football and I was trying to keep in shape with wrestling, "said Stockdale, who wrestled a little bit in university. "Some of my friends were doing it, so"¦"

He started the Panthers wrestling team when he first arrived at the school in 1980. It proved a tough go on the mat to start, says Stockdale who still remembers their first school competition.

They found themselves up against a very talented Baxter team that had won the Ontario Elementary School Championships and had a number of talented provincial athletes.

"I don't think we won a match, "Stockdale said with a loud chuckle. "But that was good. It was a good learning experience for me as the coach and for the kids.

"It progressed from there pretty quickly."

That it did, as the highlights were plenty.

In 1997, the girls won the Ontario Bantam Championship and the boys duplicated the feat in 1999.

In 1998 and 2001, the girls placed third in the province.

Many of his students have gone on to compete at the high school and university levels, some even at the provincial and national championships.

Former team member Jonathan Goodman won gold medals in both the Ontario and Eastern Canada Championships.

Through the highs and lows, Stockdale has always maintained one thing: You've got to pick yourself up off the mat.

"You can't give up, "he said. "That's one thing. You just have to be resilient. That was very important. You let the good and bad go by and you just keep on improving."

While some see it as an individual sport, Stockdale worked hard to build a team concept. Supporting one another is as big as the hours spent practising on the mat.

He always made sure to include the parents in that network of support and recalled how he would get up in front of the group before the county championships and remind them of that.

"I'd tell the parents, you know, if your kid comes off the mat and he won, give them a hug, "Stockdale said. "I said if they come off the mat and they lost, give them an even bigger hug. They appreciate that.

"It's a sport where you leave everything on the mat."

Stockdale loves wrestling for many reasons, which is why he would expose as many students to the sport as he could.

"I liked the sport, too, because I could involve as many people as possible, "he said. "I didn't cut anybody. It wasn't a tryout or anything. They would try it out themselves and if you don't like the sport, that's fine.

"You encourage them, even if they don't like the sport, to try something active to do."

Through all the time in the gym, Stockdale still found time to coach cross-country and track and field at the school.

"I felt I needed to do stuff. I have to keep busy, "he said. "I'd start out doing cross-country. Then go into wrestling and finish off with track and field just to keep me myself busy throughout the whole year.

"I needed to do that. I felt good doing that and it kept a lot of kids busy. You get a much better human being when you experience as many things as possible."

Stockdale also helped organize the Simcoe County Wrestling Championships numerous times over the years.

"I can't even remember how many times, much to the chagrin of Mrs. Stockdale, "he said, adding a chuckle. "But (Beverley has) been very supportive, as my two children (Jason and Erin Corry) have."

While Stockdale retired from teaching, he never ever considered to stop coaching. He's a mainstay at the Kempenfelt Bay Wrestling Club and helped Barrie Central win back-to-back Georgian Bay wrestling crowns.

"As long as I can, "he says without hesitation when asked how long he wants to coach.

He promised Beverley, who recently retired from teaching herself, he would make time for them to travel.

"I miss teaching, but I get my fill by doing lots of coaching, "added Stockdale, who received an award in 2002 from his fellow coaches in Simcoe County to recognize his years of coaching and promoting the sport of amateur wrestling.

"I'm fine that way. I think that's why I continue doing it. I enjoyed it that much."

He misses Portage View, although he admits he still finds time to help out with the wrestling team here and there. It will always hold a special place in his heart.

"Oh yeah, I taught there for so long. I felt like part of the furniture, "he said before bursting out laughing.

He's touched by the Hall of Fame nomination.

"This is a real honour, no question about it, "he said. "The people that nominated me, this is very kind and I appreciate it.

"I look back and I think I've made a positive impression on people and I think that's good."

The look on Quentin MacPhell would tell you he certainly has.


Gable set for next stage

January 12th, 2011 by Tom

Dan Gable Wrestling Coach


IOWA CITY "Dan Gable has been the face of amateur wrestling for the better part of the last half-century.

During that span, Gable has done just about everything there is to do for the sport of wrestling, both on the mat and off. He won two NCAA Championships during his competitive days at Iowa State University, losing just one match during his collegiate career. He went on to win a gold medal at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, while not allowing a single point.

Gable then went into coaching. He was the head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa from 1976-1997, where he led the Hawkeyes to 15 NCAA national team titles and 21 straight Big Ten Conference championships. He coached 152 Al-Americans and 45 national champion during his 21 years as head coach at Iowa. He also coached the United States Olympic Freestyle team in 1980, 1984 and 2000.

Gable stepped down after the 1997 season and moved into an administrative position with the University of Iowa.

Gable has also served in numerous other capacities, including broadcaster on Iowa Public Television's College Wrestling series.

But most notably, Gable has been the greatest ambassador for amateur wrestling who ever lived. Gable is the face of wrestling. Whether it has been on the mat, in the corner, behind the microphone or at various gatherings, Gable has been at the forefront, the voice of the sport.

Gable "retired" from the University of Iowa at the end of December, freeing him up to do much more work behind the scenes. Just don't mention the word "retired" to Gable, for he knows his work has only just begun.

"Excuse me? What did you say?" Gable rebutted when asked about his "retirement." "That word is not in my vocabulary."

Gable recently took time out of his busy schedule to talk about the future of wrestling and his visions for the sport.

J Robinson Goes To Iraq To Train, Thank Troops

October 31st, 2009 by WrestlingPod

Coach J Robinson teaching troops wrestling moves.

COB BASRA, Iraq - Who is Coach J Robinson?

Robinson has had an illustrious career as an Army Ranger during the Vietnam War, an Olympic wrestler and one of the greatest coaches in University of Minnesota history.

Robinson demonstrated his bravery by telling a roomful of military policemen how he listens to Britney Spears and Lady Gaga to get motivated.

Robinson is also caring. He flew to Iraq recently to motivate the troops and when he learned the government wasn't going to pay his way, he was perfectly willing to fly halfway around world on his own dime.

All to offer a simple "Thank you."

"When the chaplain called and asked if I could come, I thought it was the least I could do, "said Robinson, who was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2005. "I was sitting at home, and you know what that's like. It's pretty good. Sometimes you don't realize that until you leave."

Robinson visited troops all over Contingency Operating Base Basra, at each stop encouraging Soldiers and telling them to embrace their deployment as a learning experience.

"The lessons you learn in Iraq will follow you for the rest of your lives, "said Robinson, who attended Airborne, Jungle Warfare and Ranger school before deploying to Vietnam. "I'm more proud to be a Ranger than I am being an Olympian, because the lessons I learned there I've used for the rest of life."

Robinson, a member of the 1972 Olympic wrestling team, addressed Soldiers on the importance of perspective, concentration, and the power of choice and striving for excellence in everything they do.

In addition, Robinson told the Soldiers that someday they would be able to look back at their time in Iraq and be proud of the people they had helped, even those they had not known they helped.

"One thing you learn as a coach, you do a lot of stuff and you touch a lot of people, and you might never see it, "said Robinson. "You're not always going to get that pat on the back."

Robinson's busy schedule included wrestling classes with the 34th Military Police Company. The coach of three team national titles instructed the MP's on hand placement and balance; "the fundamentals, "said the seven-time Big Ten Coach of the Year.

"It's part of his striving for excellence, "said Lt. Col. Jeffery Johnson, Inspector General for the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division and an alumnus of the U of M. "A, giving thanks from the state of Minnesota, and B, helping the MP's strive for excellence."

While Robinson could only visit for a few days, his visit was appreciated up to the highest levels.

"Soldiers want to know three things: to know that their folks back home are alright, that life back home is going normally, and that folks back home are thinking of them, "said Brig. Gen. David Eliciero, deputy commanding general of the 34th Inf. Div., and U of M Class of 1980. "I think this accomplishes that."

So who is Coach J Robinson? A Ranger? An Olympian? A Hall of Fame wrestling coach?

For a while in COB Basra, the answer was simple: a legend, an old Soldier, a man willing to come back out to the front to show his gratitude to the Soldiers personally.

"For me, I have to come out here to say thanks, "said Robinson.

Pictures and video here.

Zeke Jones Leaves Penn, Takes US Freestyle Head Coach Position

October 4th, 2008 by Tom

Jones accepts position as U.S. freestyle head coach

University of Pennsylania Sports Information

PHILADELPHIA -- The University of Pennsylvania's head wrestling coach Zeke Jones has announced his resignation to accept a position as the head coach of the United States freestyle national team.

With Jones' resignation, Penn has also announced that assistant coach Rob Eiter has been appointed interim head coach of the program.

"Penn has been a tremendous place for me and my family, "Jones said. "It has been a great place to work and live. Penn is one of the best places for a student-athlete to achieve success academically and athletically and working with men as gifted as the ones at Penn has been a blessing."

"This is a great opportunity for Zeke and we wish him the best with U.S.A. Wrestling, "Penn's Director of Athletics Steve Bilsky said. "At the same time, we feel very fortunate to have someone with Rob's ability and credentials to step up to the head coaching position."

Penn begins its 2008-09 wrestling season on November 22 with a pair of dual matches against Princeton (noon) and Michigan (2 p.m.) at The Palestra.

College wrestling: Mat coaches not getting rich

February 18th, 2008 by Tom


In college athletic department offices across America, the coach behind the door belongs to a group that averages nearly $70,000 in base salary each year.

Down many of those hallways, though, other coaches cash bigger paychecks than their colleagues in the Olympic sport of wrestling.

A Des Moines Register open-records request for salaries of Division I wrestling head coaches shows that the average base salary at 51 of the 61 public programs in the U.S. that responded - about $69,550 - places those coaches somewhere between the average nurse and a psychologist.

Wrestling coaches, who arguably practice a bit of both of those other professions, say they stay at the side of the mat because of a deep commitment to the sport - not a shot at deep pockets. Others, however, contend that the college athletic pay scale tips too far toward revenue-producing giants such as football and men's basketball.

"Wrestling has been under-funded, under-promoted and under-everything you can say about a program throughout the country, "said former Iowa State coach Bobby Douglas, now an assistant athletic director at the school. "From a size perspective, the sports that are getting compensated all have athletes that are over 6 feet and 200 pounds.

"That's football and basketball. I've never been able to get an athletic director to agree that was a form of discrimination."

Wrestling is a non-revenue sport across almost the entire country, meaning gate receipts do not meet the costs of operating the program.

In the wrestling-rich Midwest, those who know, work with and compete against Iowa State's Cael Sanderson, Iowa's Tom Brands, Oklahoma State's John Smith and Minnesota's J Robinson contend those coaches are worth every dollar and more.

Click here to search our database of Division I wrestling coach salaries

Wrestling coaches, the well-paid and not-as-well-paid, are entering their regular-season stretch runs with eyes on conference meets and the NCAA Championships on March 20-22 in St. Louis, Mo.

"Our strategy as a coaches' association is we want to empower our coaches to be able to do things on their individual campuses that create the perception of much more perceived value, "said Mike Moyer, National Wrestling Coaches Association executive director and former coach at George Mason University. "We have to sell the value of our wrestling programs on every campus across the country. Not just what we bring in the way of wins and losses, but how we help these campuses alleviate financial stress."

Sanderson tops list

A Register analysis of the 51 programs that responded to requests for fiscal 2008 base salaries shows:

- The average salary is $69, 550.16, with six coaches making $100,000 or more.

- Iowa State's Sanderson joins Oklahoma's Jack Spates as the highest-paid coaches, at a base salary of $110,000.

"I'm coaching because I want to help kids reach their goals and I want to bring a national championship back here, "said Sanderson, 28. "That's it. Period."

- Iowa's Brands is No. 8, at $99,750. Brands said the chance to run his own program made him willing to take a pay cut when he left his job as a Hawkeyes assistant to become head coach at Virginia Tech in 2004.

"If a million dollars is going to make me work harder or smarter, I'd better examine my efforts, "he said.

- Northern Iowa coach Brad Penrith is No. 21 at $68,600. He accepted his first head coaching job with the Panthers in 2000.

"I was offered mid- to upper-50s and I asked (athletic director) Rick Hartzell to cut that back, "Penrith said. "He asked why, and I said I wanted to take the rest of that money and invest it into my assistants so I could get some good assistants. (Hartzell) couldn't believe I was going to do that."

- Portland State coach Mike Haluska, a 1976 graduate of Dowling Catholic, is ranked 49th among the 51 coaches, earning a base salary of $37,638 in his second season. Haluksa has no assistants and is concerned his program might get dropped. Haluska formerly worked in the Portland State landscaping department while serving as a head coach at a community college.

"You couldn't pay me $100,000 to leave this job, "he said. "For me, this is a dream job.

"There's been a lot of days that I thought, 'Man, if they give me that landscape job back, I'm taking it.' I do love (coaching wrestling), it wouldn't matter to me if I was coaching little kids or anything."

- The cumulative base salary of the 51 coaches is $3,489,806, or $310,000 less than the guaranteed money, which includes base salary, of football coaches Kirk Ferentz of Iowa ($2.8 million) and Gene Chizik of Iowa State ($1 million).

Brands is guaranteed an additional $20,000 from his camps, while Sanderson also gets an automobile or a $5,000 annual stipend.

Football coaches rule

The average guaranteed earnings of the 120 Division I football coaches reached $1 million before bonuses, perks and incentives, according to a December story in USA Today.

USA Today reported at least 50 football coaches earned a minimum $1 million - nearly 10 times what Sanderson and Spates will earn in base salary as the highest-paid of the 51 wrestling coaches - and 12 earned at least $2 million.

The 331 Division I men's basketball teams seem to have one thing in common with wrestling: The difference between the higher and lower-paid coaches is substantial.

"Obviously, there are guys in football and men's basketball in the elite programs who are making $1 million or more a year, "Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, told the Register. "Those guys at the lower spectrum of Division I, their base salary may be $100,000."

Women's basketball has 339 Division I programs. Summer McKesson, director of communication for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, said her group has no recent salary average, but is in the process of hiring someone who would track that type of information.

The women's basketball coaches at all three state schools in Iowa receive a higher base salary than the wrestling coach.

"It's discrimination and it's obviously unfair, "Douglas said, "but the so-called minor sports don't have enough political clout to make athletic directors compensate them properly."

Douglas said his first head coaching job at Cal-Santa Barbara in 1973-74 paid him $7,500. His first salary at Arizona State was $12,000. In his final season as head coach at Iowa State in 2005-06, he earned $140,369.

Sanderson was promoted after Douglas resigned. Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said Sanderson had the credentials - despite no head coaching experience - that required a significant financial package.

"He's making certainly less than what coach Douglas was making, yet Cael brought to the table a lot in terms of who he was from a marketing standpoint, "Pollard said. "He had demand on his side too, because if it wasn't (at Iowa State), somebody else would have done it. We looked at it and said here's a fair offer."

Sanderson led the Cyclones to a runner-up finish at the NCAA tournament in his first season, and season tickets seals increased from 742 last season to 1,313 in 2007-08.

"The fact we've increased season ticket sales, there is a lot of excitement and we got second in the country (last season) isn't by accident, "Pollard said. "We hired somebody who was able to achieve that, and is compensated for achieving that."

One path to more money

Wrestling coaches as chief executive officers?

That's the thought process National Wrestling Coaches Association executive director Mike Moyer would like to see permeate college wrestling, particularly in the area of increasing financial compensation.

Building successful summer camps or attracting events with significant fiscal return to the community the campus is located in - such as Northern Iowa's hosting the National Duals, which generated at least $2.5 million for the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area this season - are just two of many ways Moyer said coaches could make their program a valued part of the athletic family and, in return, make their paycheck larger.

"Those are the types of things that in the eyes of the administration bring value, "Moyer said.

Portland State's Haluska has a simple wish for his salary.

"If I can give my daughter things that she wants and me and my wife can be comfortable, "he said, "the only thing I'd ask for would be an assistant to give me a little bit more time to enjoy my daughter."