First-year BLHS wrestling coach has been here before
Tyler Cordts won’t ask Basehor-Linwood wrestlers to do anything he hasn’t done before himself.
Cordts wrestled on the varsity squad at Santa Fe Trail High School for four years at 103 pounds. He competed at BLHS during the Bobcat classic and walked the very halls his athletes traverse daily, less than 10 years ago.
He understands the sport and the toll it can take on an athlete to endure the grueling practices, weight requirements and one-on-one competition.
“I’ve been in their shoes, been through everything they have and know what it feels like to go through those workouts,” Corts said.
Cordts was hired last spring and began practices earlier this month. With the expectations of a new coach and Cordts’ debut season approaching, he admitted to being nervous in advance.
But as soon as Cordts stepped onto the mat, he eased into his new role. Comfortable with the students he had seen in the hallways and had in classes, Cordts began coaching wrestling again.
“I have all these ideas and the time flies in practice,” he said. “Next thing I know it’s 5.”
On the mat since around the age of 11, Cordts was the lone member of his family to take up wrestling.
“It was just kind of the thing to do,” he said one day with the shrug of his shoulders. “Everybody did it and no one in my family had done it before.”
After graduating high school in 2005, Cordts pursued wrestling for a year at Central College in Pella, Iowa.
Competing in the lowest collegiate weight, 111 pounds, Cordts was forced to wrestle outside of his class.
“I wasn’t naturally very big and that’s why I transitioned,” he said of the move from athlete to coach.
Coaching wasn’t something he had seriously considered but he admired his high school and college coaches. He started his coaching career at Central College before taking on a position as an assistant at Pella High School.
Cordts, 25, who is also the special education teacher, returned to his alma mater last year as the head junior high coach at Santa Fe Trail High School, while teaching at West Franklin High School.
After three-year coach Ed Seaton decided to step down last season, Cordts stepped in.
“I’ve got a son in college and wanted to follow his wrestling a little bit,” Seaton said of the choice to become an assistant. “I just felt like they needed to get a coach and teacher in the school that could motivate them and spend the time. I was working a full-time job and just didn‘t have the time.”
“I just felt like someone else could do a better job,” he added.
And so far, Seaton said Cordts has risen to the task. He’s motivated and organized, Seaton said, and strict.
“He doesn’t take anything from the kids and I think they respect that,” he said with a laugh.
Seaton is staying on staff, joining fellow assistant coach Travis Phippen, for the upcoming season.
“I have two head coaches as my assistants and I am taking over a program with standout wrestlers,” Cordts said. “I couldn’t ask for a better way to start.”
The 27-man roster is heavy with juniors, with just three seniors leading the helm and an evenly distributed group of underclassmen.
The loss of senior state qualifier Antonio Ferro is balanced by returning state qualifiers 126-pound senior Sammy Seaton and 145-pound junior Cory McCleary.
Cordts said he also expects junior John Hopper to have a strong showing this year at 152 pounds.
“Those three boys are our three great leaders,” he said. “One thing I feel is that we have a lot of great leadership and a lot of returning experience.”
The Bobcats open the season at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Bonner Springs against the Braves and Piper. A quick turnaround will then pit the varsity in a dual the next day, on Nov. 30, at Spring Hill. The highly anticipated Bobcat Classic returns on Jan. 11.
With practice officially underway, Cordts said the athletes are enthusiastically approaching practice and are ready to work.
“I’m really surprised they’re coming in working hard,” he said. “And having fun with it and getting the job done.”
Some of the exuberance could be attributed to the wrestlers abandoning their former, small, green-mat filled room in the high school for a donated, year-round practice facility in the district’s sixth-grade center.
“They’re excited about it,” Cordts said.
Stressing sound, solid technique and a knowledge of the basics has proven effective in the past for Cordts as both an athlete and coach.
“Basics are what works,” he said. “Just being in better shape than your opponent is a huge advantage, especially later in the match.”
Taking over an existing program hasn’t entirely intimidated Cordts, who just wants to continue building the sport at BLHS and within the wrestler-friendly community as the season progresses.
“I’m just trying to get the community excited about us because I’m excited to finally get everything going,” he said.