Stout School of Wrestling a Place for Young Wrestlers to Improve Their Skills

By David Biggy | Dec 04, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy John Stout watches the action on the mats inside Stout School of Wrestling, located at McKinley Plaza in Manahawkin, on Nov. 24.

Stafford Township — Most people aren’t ever going to accuse John Stout of being the fanciest guy around, so when it came time to figure out a name for his wrestling club, he went with basic, simple and something many in the Southern Ocean County region would recognize.

“It’s harder than you think to come up with a name that’s catchy,” said Stout, the former Southern Regional High School head coach who opened up Stout School of Wrestling over the summer. “But everybody else has the catchy name already. So what would I call it, ‘More Elite’? I’m just not that creative, and I don’t need to compete with the established clubs with those kinds of names.

“Between my brother and me, from when we wrestled here, the Stout name has been around for a while, and our name is attached to some pretty good wrestling and some good wrestlers. So I figured I’d go with something people would be familiar and comfortable with.”

Sitting atop the main building to the McKinley Avenue shopping plaza in Manahawkin, there really is nothing fancy about the inside of the large space turned wrestling room. The mats are, as Stout called them, “older than me,” and seating is limited to a single bench on one side of the room.

Not that too many people need to sit. It’s a wrestling club, after all.

“It’s the best practice I can find,” said 12-year-old Michael Craft, whose parents drive him about an hour from Westampton, just to the northwest of Mount Holly, for the quality wrestling instruction Stout offers. “There aren’t many good clubs in my area where I can really focus on practicing good technique and getting better, so I come here.”

Mason Heck, a 15-year-old Lacey High School sophomore, said the smaller club has many benefits.

“At other clubs, you’re in a huge gymnasium with a lot of other kids, and the coaching isn’t the same,” he said. “Being a smaller club, there’s a lot of one-on-one coaching. Coach Stout is always making sure we’re doing things right because he’s right there watching everything you’re doing. I know being here is going to make me a better wrestler.”

And that simply is the goal, Stout said: to create a positive wrestling environment in which youngsters learn good wrestling skills and become better wrestlers.

“This is not a factory,” said Stout, who coached Southern’s varsity team to several state championships during his 18 years at the helm, including last year’s NJSIAA Group V title. “I’m not looking to have a bunch of numbers and make a million dollars a year. We’re not going to take kids in and spit them out. I want kids to come here because they’re truly interested in the sport, becoming a better wrestler, and growing the sport not just here in this area, but throughout the state. I want kids who want to learn how to wrestle and get better.”

Last week, two days before Thanksgiving, Stout and training assistant Lou Hochstrasser had eight boys in-house working on their takedown techniques, grappling skills and conditioning. Stout said his wrestling school is open to anybody, regardless of skill level or age.

“We have a solid group of kids who come here now, and some of them are as young as 9 and 10 years old,” he said. “Of course, the goal is to get more kids from all over. But the idea is to grow the sport and, first and foremost, have as many of the local teams become as good as possible. We’re here to do our part in making kids better wrestlers so they can maximize their potential when they compete. It’s really just about growing the sport.”

Pricing varies depending on how many days a wrestler chooses to attend in a given week – three days per week, per month, for a single wrestler costs $150, while a sibling can attend for an additional $75; two days per week for a month is $120 for a single wrestler – but Stout said he will work with anybody on a flexible plan if that’s needed.

Stout School of Wrestling operates three days each week – Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – and is located at 100 McKinley Ave., Manahawkin. Anybody interested in attending training sessions can call Stout directly at 609-290-8608 or find Stout School of Wrestling on Facebook for additional information.

“Every wrestler who comes in here is going to be treated fairly and taught well,” Stout said. “You’re going to be expected to maintain a certain level of discipline. This isn’t recreation wrestling. It’s learning at a bit higher of a level. But I guarantee if a kid comes here, gives it a shot and stays with us, that kid will be a better wrestler.”

— David Biggy

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