Becoming the first head coach to lead Aledo’s newly established wrestling program means Austin Stockon will be teaching various holds and techniques to the kids. Among the hip throws, headlocks and arm chops, Stockon plans to teach his wrestlers something more nebulous but just as crucial — joy.
“That’s a large part of it, just getting them to where they love where they’re at and being in the sport,” Stockon said. “They’ve got to be happy and excited to come to practice. If they’re not happy, and they’re dreading it, you’re going to lose them.”
Making wrestlers happy doesn’t mean making practices easy. It means making them challenging. An individual sport like wrestling can light a competitive fire in athletes.
“It’s just you and that other person” squaring off on a mat, Stockon said. “People who have a competitive nature and have that fight in them, they are really going to take to it. I hope to instill my love for wrestling in my student-athletes and to see them perform at the highest levels.”
Aledo ISD named Stockon as its first wrestling coach in June. He had spent the previous two years as assistant coach for wrestling and football at Weatherford.
“He is great with kids,” said Aledo Athletic Director Steve Wood. “We think he has the ability to build those relationships that will lead to a great program.”
Stockon, who graduated from Aledo High in 2009, grew up practicing martial arts, mostly judo and jiu jitsu. He would have liked to wrestle, but the Bearcats had no program back then. Stockon started on the football team as an all-district running back and also ran track and power lifted. In 2006, Stockon ran for 152 yards and three touchdowns to propel Aledo to a bi-district championship over Arlington Heights.
He played football under then-Assistant Coach Billy Mathis, who became Weatherford’s head football coach in 2017. At the time, Stockon was teaching social studies and serving as boys athletic coordinator at Tison Middle School. Mathis recruited him to become a teacher and assistant coach for wrestling and football at Weatherford High, and Stockon began working there in 2019.
This year, Mathis departed Weatherford for Brock and gave Stockon a sterling reference for the Aledo job. It is Stockon’s first as a head coach.
Stockon’s energy and enthusiasm could offset his lack of experience as a program leader. He “immersed” himself in wrestling after becoming Weatherford’s assistant coach and has grown to love the sport, he said.
“I’ve had a blast,” he said. “I enjoy learning with the kids.”
He understands the culture at Bearcat Nation — hard work! — and will lead his program accordingly.
“With Aledo, the culture kind of made it what it is,” he said. “The hard work ethic is going to be something that thrives.”
Already, about two dozen boys and a dozen girls have shown interest in wrestling.
“That will grow once we get into school,” Stockon said. “I’ve been going to summer workouts to put a face out there. There is a lot of interest. There is a lot of people who have come into the community who have wrestled somewhere else or their parents wrestled, so they have that interest, but there has never been an outlet for it.”
High school wrestling has thrived in recent years with participation rates climbing, particularly among girls. Aledo is ready to join the fun.
“There has been this push recently,” Stockon said. “We’re seeing [wrestling] grow all over the state, and it was one of those deals where Aledo finally decided to add it. There is no question we will be able to excel at it.”
Stockon wishes Aledo had offered wrestling when he attended school there.
“It’s something I would have had success in and would have taken to big-time,” he said.
The wrestling program could improve the school’s football team, as well. (This prospect might send shivers down the spines of other high school football teams since the Bearcats are the reigning state champions for three years in a row.)
“Wrestling is great for our football kids in offseason,” Stockon said. “It helps with flexibility, strength, speed. It kind of does all of it.”
In addition to coaching wrestling, Stockon will teach advanced placement human geography at the high school and sociology and psychology at Daniel Ninth Grade Campus.
Wood praised Stockon’s “clear focus” on students in the classroom and in the athletic arena.
“He’s committed to starting our wrestling program out strong and turning it into another exceptional opportunity for our Bearcat student-athletes,” the athletic director said.
At Weatherford, Stockon coached a team that qualified five wrestlers for the state tournament this year. Stockon wants to carry that success to Aledo and make the Bearcats a contender for the state title. Stockon lives in Aledo with his wife, Lauren, who teaches elementary school and is a Bearcat alumna. Returning to the high school to coach and teach is where Stockon has envisioned himself and his family.
“We’ve always been rooted here,” Stockon said. “Coming back home was a big part of it for me.”