Stauffer learns mat lessons from Cockerham
ELKHART — What began as a meeting at the barber shop has been forged into a relationship that has helped lead to a State Finals appearance.
When Dominique Stauffer met Frank Cockerham about three years ago at the place where they get their hair cut, the current Central High School senior heavyweight saw a chance to ask for help from a man who was a state runner-up as a Memorial High School heavyweight in 1981.
Cockerham soon began working with the Blue Blazers’ big guys, including Stauffer. On Friday, Stauffer will appear in his first IHSAA State Finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and Frank “Wham! Bam!” Cockerham will be there, too.
“Frank has done a lot for Neek,” says Central head coach Chuck Bower.
Cockerham has passed on the lessons that he learned from former Memorial coaches Jim Nicholson and Dave Kratzer.
“They took the time and were patient with me,” says Cockerham. “They discussed what we were doing and why we were doing it.
“I’ve taught (Neek) patience, repetition, technique and having fun.”
Bower looks at Stauffer and sees a hard worker who combines balance, strength and knowledge with quickness all coming in a 5-foot-11, 250-pound package.
“He’s deceptive,” says Bower. “He’s fast for a big guy.”
Cockerham takes it even farther.
“Neek’s probably the fastest heavyweight I’ve ever seen so we decided to use his speed,” says Cockerham. “We’re just taking advantage of it.”
Stauffer says what he is today was made in the practice room. That’s where he prepares himself for the intensity and mental grind of the sport.
“Wrestling is all about repetition,” says Stauffer. “The more you rep things, the better you are going to get. If I work the things in matches that I do in practice, I should be fine.
“I know how tough it is going in. But that’s why you practice.”
Stauffer practices making the moves that have earned him 117 career victories, including 35 against just one loss so far in 2011-12.
“I like to cut the corners and work angles on big guys,” says Stauffer. “I try to get their feet moving a little more and take them out of their comfort zone and Bam! hit ‘em with a ‘High C.’”