Much like the memories he has helped to create for the last three-plus decades, Bob Stoll’s high school wrestling coaching career is close to passing into legend.
From Thursday, March 1, through Saturday, March 3, at Ohio State, the former Ready and current Dublin Coffman coach who is set to retire at season’s end will coach at the state tournament for the final time.
That’ll certainly generate a final story or two for whatever venture he ends up getting involved in as he begins the next phase of his life.
Stoll isn’t sure what he’ll be doing next year, considering all he’s known for nearly 50 years is wrestling.
The decision to step away from coaching followed a doctor’s recommendation that he have a third surgery on his neck, which will have to be immobilized for six months.
That, too, should make for a good anecdote or two over the coming years.
The numerous former and current athletes who have been impacted by the man they call “Stolly” all have sat through their share of his good-natured joking and inspirational talks.
This is the same person who proudly proclaims that he is a member of the “world-famous 5-foot-8-and-under club.”
Stoll remembers wanting to coach when he was as young as 8 years old, but he had no idea until he went to college that he might eventually produce a career with such plentiful results.
From 1977-88 at Ready, Stoll coached 13 individual state champions, nine state runners-up, 34 state placers and the 1982 Class A state team title.
He then coached from 1989-95 at Lakota near Cincinnati, where he had one individual state champion, two state runners-up and 14 state placers.
Stoll returned to central Ohio for a tenure at Coffman that began in 1996.
Although no Shamrocks have won a state title under Stoll, he has coached 34 state qualifiers, one state runner-up and eight state placers.
Coffman won a sectional team title Feb. 18 and placed ninth at district Feb. 25 at Hilliard Darby as three individuals advanced to the state tournament.
Probably an even bigger part of his legacy is the impact he should continue to have on other programs for years to come.
Hilliard Davidson’s Dominic DiSabato, Upper Arlington’s Matt Stout, Gahanna’s Kyle Bentley and Pickerington Central’s Jason Allen are among Stoll’s former assistants who are head coaches of central Ohio programs.
Numerous others, such as former Ready coach and current Hilliard Bradley assistant Mickey Balmert, are serving as assistant coaches.
DiSabato and Bentley agree that Stoll’s ability to connect with students helped to set him apart.
Unlike the rah-rah style of many coaches, Stoll had what DiSabato considers a more “quiet” demeanor and consistently surrounded himself with the best technicians of the sport that he could find.
In 1999, DiSabato, Stout and Mike Bulugaris were named the Assistant Coaches of the Year by Wrestling USA when they were all at Coffman under Stoll.
Stoll’s strength was more behind the scenes.
He has always been a master at teaching mental preparation and motivational tactics.
Wrestlers who competed under Stoll never had a problem getting ready for a match.
“You don’t always get the great athletes, but you get heart and determination,” Stoll said.
With that template, Stoll created three winning programs and found enough story material to help turn numerous boys into responsible, successful men.
The impact “Stolly” had should be considered legendary when recounting the greatest mentors to come through central Ohio.