Rewind: Stout returns to coaching wrestling
Editor’s note: The Daily Times’ annual “Rewind” series revisits stories we have reported on over the past year. To read more “Rewind stories, go to daily-times.com.
FARMINGTON – It has been a difficult 19 months for former Piedra Vista wrestling coach Levi Stout, but things are finally starting to look up.
Less than a month after guiding PV’s wrestling team to its fourth straight state title in February 2014, Stout’s contract with the program was not renewed after the school issued a letter accusing Stout of seven infractions. Then the New Mexico Activities Association suspended Stout for 180 school days, keeping him out of coaching for the 2014-15 season.
Next, in December 2014, a local family filed a lawsuit against Stout, claiming their son’s academic and athletic progress was negatively impacted after he was forced to wrestle under a false name during a December 2013 tournament in Reno, Nev. The family sought unspecified damages on their son’s behalf.
Finally, after serving his NMAA-mandated suspension, PV decided not to bring Stout back to the program, citing his status as the subject of the aforementioned lawsuit.
It was a whirlwind of bad news for Stout, but this summer, the coach's fortunes took a turn for the better. On Aug. 21, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed the lawsuit against Stout, and now he’s back to teaching the young wrestlers of Farmington the sport he loves.
Stout opened the Stout Wrestling Academy on Oct. 1 at 915 Farmington Ave., Unit F. The SWA is a year-round wrestling school designed to train area youngsters to wrestle at the highest level.
“Wrestling has always been a part of my life, ever since I was 6 years old. After having to spend a year away from it, having to watch and not having a hand in anything, I was ready to hit the ground running,” Stout said. “It has just been excellent. It’s going really well.”
Stout said he was approached about starting a youth wrestling program shortly after his suspension was announced and the lawsuit was filed, but he decided it was best not to get involved with so much going on around him. But shortly after the lawsuit was dismissed and things settled down for Stout, he was ready to get involved with wrestling again.
Stout leads the academy on a daily basis with a few other instructors, teaching the fundamentals of the sport. The majority of kids involved with the SWA range in age from 9 to 13, but Stout said he offers an introductory class for those as young as 5 years old.
“That’s more laid back. It’s more of an (introduction) to wrestling class, and it’s nice because these kids are learning the same program that I used at PV, and that was a proven program,” Stout said of the younger class. “The second class is basically the same program I did at PV, just down a couple of notches. It’s not as intense, but it’s almost the same program.”
Stout also plans to run a lengthy freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling season beginning in March that he hopes will bring in high school wrestlers.
The SWA already has taken some of its wrestlers to tournaments around the state, and Stout said the team is starting to see results in the three months since the academy opened. For its next tournament, an SWA team will go to the Who’s Bad National Classic in Denver on Saturday.
Close to 50 kids are members of the SWA, with about 40 showing up on a nightly basis.
The academy’s location offers enough space for two wrestling mats, and Stout said that space is adequate for now. But if the number of kids showing up on a nightly basis grows, as Stout hopes will be the case after the high school and middle school seasons wrap up, a move to a larger facility will be necessary.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Stout said. “Hopefully, we’ll have to expand one of these days — maybe next year.”
Call 505-609-0990 or 505-330-3310 for more information about the academy.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.