Grappling With Retirement

Longtime Windsor coach Kevin Stoffey is finally calling it quits.

%28From+left%29+Tom+Ford%2C+Ryan+Bollinger%2C+Jake+Warren+and+Kevin+Stoffey+celebrate+after+Warren+brought+home+the+program%27s+first+state+title.+

Paula Warren

(From left) Tom Ford, Ryan Bollinger, Jake Warren and Kevin Stoffey celebrate after Warren brought home the program's first state title.

Brogan Eyre, Staff Editor

For nearly 40 years, Kevin Stoffey has done a little bit of everything at Windsor.

Throughout his time at Windsor, Stoffey has coached football, basketball, wrestling, tennis and track. During his day job, he was also a science teacher and a guidance counselor.

For the past 23 years, he has led the Windsor wrestling program. In fact, he started the program in 1995-96 and has been the head varsity coach ever since. While he retired from teaching eight years ago, he continued to lead the wrestling team to new heights.

Over the past two seasons, Stoffey achieved two major coaching milestones–he produced the program’s first two state champions. Senior Ryan Yarnell was an undefeated state champion this season and senior Jake Warren took home the program’s first state title last season.

Stoffey’s last match will be Yarnell’s state title match. Shortly after the season, the longtime Windsor coach officially announced his retirement.  

Stoffey is pleased with his overall career.

“My biggest accomplishment in coaching over the years has been to see numerous individuals grow, improve and then become successful in life,” Stoffey said. “I love when I hear from former wrestlers who have done well after high school. Several are now into coaching with kids of their own and are keeping the tradition going.”

The 2017-18 year was a tremendous final season for Stoffey. Along with Yarnell’s state title, Jacob Warren and Grant Pauli also took home state medals. As a team, the Owls finished in eighth place in Class 3.

We have had chances to win (individual) titles in past years, but for whatever reason, it didn’t work out. We had five second place finishes prior to Jacob winning last year and probably should have won a couple more,” Stoffey said.

Stoffey has undoubtedly had a successful career coaching, but all good things must, unfortunately, come to an end. Over the past 23 years as the wrestling coach, Stoffey amassed 212 Dual Meet Wins, 18 Tournament Titles, 85 State Qualifiers, 24 State Medalists and two state champions.

“The most important thing about coaching are the life lessons that it teaches.  Hard work, perseverance and teamwork really do pay off and makes you a better individual, not just in wrestling, but in future life endeavors,” said Stoffey.

While Stoffey has had an impact on countless wrestlers over the years, one person in particular stands out. Jake Fitts took home the first state medal for the Windsor wrestling program in 2001 with a sixth place finish. 

“Being Windsor’s first state medalist was such an honor and privilege for me. To see what the program has developed into makes me take great pride in being part of building this tradition. Coach Stoffey was an integral part of this achievement,” Fitts said.  “He was always there to push me, support me, and help me develop not only as a wrestler, but as a young man. His impact on my wrestling and high school career is greater than he may ever know and continues to impact my life today. He showed me what a true leader should be and I value and use this each day of my life.”

Stoffey is certainly passionate about the sport of wrestling.

Without a doubt, wrestling is the toughest sport out there.  Try going six minutes on the mat in a competitive match and tell me how you feel at the end.  What I like in particular is the fact that it is just you and an opponent on the mat. Your success on the mat is directly related to the amount of effort you took to prepare in the preceding weeks, months and years,” said Stoffey.

Several of Stoffey’s past wrestlers have gone on to the collegiate level or are currently planning to wrestle in college, such as Warren and Yarnell.

“Coach Stoffey has prepared me to be able to warm up for a match by myself. I don’t have to rely on a partner to get myself ready. This will translate into college well because it is a dog eat dog world in college wrestling. Your team will be there for you, but it still is an individual sport,” said Warren.

While the underclassmen wrestlers anxiously await news about their next head coach, Stoffey knows the next coach will have plenty of talent next season. State medalist Grant Pauli and state qualifier Chris Butts are two of several returning standouts.

“As far as who takes over, that is out of my hands. I would love to see my former wrestlers take over and keep the tradition going. Coach (Ryan) Bollinger wrestled for me and comes from a wrestling family and will be a strong candidate for the job. There are also some other former wrestlers that may come on board as well,” Stoffey said. “It will be hard to replace the senior class– Andrew (Kinder), Zach (Wright), Jacob (Warren), Connor (Richey), Ryan (Yarnell) and Kameron (Givens) but there is a nice nucleus of returning wrestlers that should produce a very competitive squad.”

While Stoffey plans on still being around at times, he has already filled up his calendar with plans for his extended time off.

“I will be playing with grandkids, fishing, traveling and maybe sneaking in to watch a Windsor wrestling match,” Stoffey said. “The things I will most remember are the relationships I’ve made over the years with wrestlers, parents and coaches. There were numerous exciting moments and big wins over the years that I’m sure I will reflect on and remember fondly as I’m sitting in a boat, waiting for the next fish to bite.”