Unlocking the door wearing just a pair of wrestling shoes, shorts and a long sleeve shirt, he walks in the humid wrestling room ready to push his Cowboy wrestlers till they have sweat dripping off the mat, and then even farther.
But what sets him apart from coaches, is not that he has a passion for wrestling, but that he has a passion for his hometown. Abilene wrestling Coach James Stout was born and raised right here, in oleí Abilene, Kan. He ventured off on his own to explore his options, but made it back to his original roots where he reconnected with his childhood passion: wrestling.
I took the time to try and get to know coach Stout on another level, see what his background was and where his heart for wrestling came from.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Abilene. I wrestled and played football for AHS, graduating in the spring of 1989.
Since being in Abilene, and knowing the great history of the sports team at AHS, what were your personal accomplishments?
I was a state qualifier in 1988 during my junior year. A football injury kept me from competing in wrestling my senior year.
After high school, what were your plans for your future and was wrestling part of those plans?
I went to Butler County Community College and Pittsburg State University graduating with a Bachelors of Science from Pittsburg State in May of 1993. I did not wrestle in college, neither school had a wrestling program and I thought it was part of my passionate past.
When did you first figure out you wanted to be a wrestling coach?
I have had a passion for the sport since I was 8 or 9 years old. I was away from the sport throughout college and a few years after. When my wife and I moved back to Abilene in 1996 to raise a family, my former high school coach, Bill Christner, asked me to help coach. Prior to that, I hadnít considered coaching. During the time I was away from the sport, coach Christner learned a tremendous amount about the sport and had a technique system that gave the kids a better understanding about how to be more competitive. That combined with a very coachable, talented and likeable group of young men coming through at that time made it very enjoyable to be part of the team. From that point on, I was hooked. Another motivating factor was that I had seen the sport become a lot more popular in Abilene than it was when I was in high school, I didnít and still donít want that to revert.
In addition to coach Christner, I have always been surrounded by several other great coaches over the years. Without them, the success wouldnít be possible. The present coaching staff is very strong and experienced, Corey Casteel, Nathan Howard, Tom and Ross Taplin, all of them have something a little different to offer the program but they have been around many years and know our system of wrestling.
How long have you been in the Abilene wrestling program since you have been back?
I have been coaching for seventeen years. This is my 10th season as head coach of the Cowboy wrestlers.
Do you plan on staying with the program for a long while?
Yes. Coaching wrestling works out well with my seasonal business and I have had tremendous support from my family and the community to continue to do so.
Do you have any children, and do they wrestler or do you coach any sport that they do?
I have four girls, Sarah 15, Sydney 13, Savannah 10 and Samantha 7. None of them wrestle but are very active in Volleyball and Softball. Savannah also plays Basketball. My wife Becky coaches them as much as she can.
Since Stout has been in the AHS wrestling program, it has finished as the North Central Kansas League champs nine years, has had 116 state qualifiers, 73 state place winners and 17 state placers. Stout has also won KWCA assistant coach of the year in 1999, regional coach of the year 2006, KWOA sportsmanship coach of the year 2009, and KWCA4A coach of the year 2011.