AHS graduate comes back home to establish program
By Mercedes Mayer
Aledo ISD has named Austin Stockon as Aledo High School’s first head wrestling coach as the program is new for the 2021-2022 school year.
Stockon is returning to Aledo ISD after four years in Weatherford ISD at Tison Middle School (2017-2019) as a social studies teacher and the boys athletics coordinator and at Weatherford High School (2019-2021) as a psychology and sociology teacher and assistant wrestling and assistant football coach. Prior to that, Stockon was a special education paraprofessional at Vandagriff Elementary in the Aledo ISD from 2015 to 2017.
In addition to coaching wrestling for Aledo High School, Stockon will teach AP human geography as well as sociology and psychology at Daniel Ninth Grade Campus.
“Coach Stockon has a clear focus on students as a coach and also as a highly skilled teacher who teaches advanced classes,” Aledo ISD Athletics Director Steve Wood said. “He’s committed to starting our wrestling program out strong and turning it into another exceptional opportunity for our Bearcat student-athletes.”
As the assistant wrestling coach at Weatherford, Stockon coached five state wrestling qualifiers and a girls individual state wrestling champion.
“I am honored to be chosen to lead this program at Aledo High School,” Stockon said. “I hope to instill my love for wrestling in my student-athletes and to see them perform at the highest levels. Knowing the hard-working culture at Aledo, I see wrestling thriving with growing support from the community.”
Austin Stockon – The Interview
The Community News’ Nolan Ruth interviewed Coach Stockon to find out his plans for the wrestling program
NR: You played football for Aledo and for a lot of these coaches that you’ll now be working alongside. What can you tell me about that time and how that led to this?
AS: I grew up here, I was born and raised here, my parents were born and raised here. So my family has been in Aledo forever. I grew up here, elementary all the way through middle and high school, and played football. Growing up, combative sports was kind of our deal. My dad grew up boxing, boxed at Aledo and then he did judo too. That’s what got me into the grappling side of it. I did judo growing up as a kid and then boxed Golden Gloves, so that’s where that side of it comes. Then I played football from early elementary. My first two varsity years we went to the semifinals and got stopped by Robert Griffin III both times. But the football program here has been fun to watch.
NR: What all transpired to have you end up coaching?
AS: My mom was a teacher here in Aledo, and I never really thought I would teach. I got my major in criminology and sociology, I was going to go into law enforcement. But I got out of college and thought “I’m not really sure that’s what I want to do.” So I did a couple of other jobs for a while, I worked in an oil field, sold real estate, and then I finally got my certificate and that’s when [Billy] Mathis got hired at Weatherford. He invited me to come on his staff, so I headed up one of the middle schools for a couple of years. That was a different beast, and I realized that middle school is where the fundamentals start with any sport. So I had fun watching those kids build and grow so much in those two years, and then went to be head coach at the freshman campus for two years and then became varsity assistant for his last year.
NR: After Mathis left for Brock, there was quite a bit of turnover with Weatherford coaches. Right about that time, rumors start about a wrestling program at Aledo. How did all of this get started?
AS: I think the thing that started it off was the buzz in the community. A couple of people had come to coach Wood, and I think prior to that some people had brought it up to coach Buchanan. I think there were a few people who moved in from different states or came from other programs where there was wrestling or the parents had wrestled for, and I think there’s always been a push for it. Coach Wood and I talked one night and he asked me how I like it and how we made it work with football, made sure we worked with the girls’ sports and I kind of told him how we did it at Weatherford and had success. When I got into Weatherford, there were zero kids playing football and wrestling; when I left there were about 20. So it definitely blew up and I was able to bridge that gap between football and wrestling and other sports in general.
NR: You’ve now gotten the ball rolling, you had Texas Elite come up and do a camp and they’re building a new complex up the road, how are things progressing in your eyes?
AS: I think the building blocks are there. I think the buzz is there, I think people want it, and now it’s just getting it established. With Texas Elite and some of these other clubs in the area, that’s huge. These kids can get in there as young as five and six and get started wrestling. Then that foundation is there by middle school when they’re really kicking, and then when they get to me they have everything. From there it’s all honing in on the specific techniques and making them better athletes.
NR: You are spearheading this new program for a school that craves and expects greatness. What are the steps for you to get this program to that point?
AS: I think it goes back to building the foundation at the younger age, and what we’re starting to see is some of these metroplex schools like Arlington or Keller, they’re all having middle school programs. I think that’s essential like every other sport. That way when they get to me as a freshman, I’m not teaching stuff on day one. We’re going into it and building off of what they learned early in middle school. Can we do that the first year? I don’t know. It just matters that the interest is there and we have the numbers there, that’s the biggest thing and then three or four, maybe five years down the road we can definitely have a good program.
NR: You really believe the importance of the middle school program. With the addition of another middle school coming to Aledo, and your experience from working in Weatherford where two middle schools feed into one high school, does that boost your confidence? That you are the one who is able to handle spearheading this?
AS: I do. I feel we did a good job of it at Weatherford. I do know, if we’re talking middle school alone it can be tough. We had half our kids one place and half our kids another place versus how Aledo is now when it’s all together. But being around that and seeing the logistics of it I think gives me an advantage.
NR: Finally, it’s been a long journey for you, how happy are you to be home and to be coaching for the Aledo Bearcats?
AS: I am super excited. That’s one thing I went into my interview with. I have loved Weatherford to death, the kids there, the administration, everybody was so good to me. But it hasn’t been home. So I’m super excited to come back home where my roots are and be back in the community that I love.