Adam Coon Returns to Wrestling: The Interview (Part One)

Adam Coon at the 2020 Olympic Trials (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo;

In conjunction with today's announcement that Adam Coon is returning to the mat, his sister Maddie, has conducted a long-form interview with Adam to get into more detail about his decision, along with his wrestling and football career.

Since this is a lengthy interview with plenty of information that Adam has not discussed publicity, it will be broken up into two parts.

Part One will consist of the news itself along with the logistics involved, Adam's initial interest in football, the recruiting process, and the possibility of Adam playing football for the Wolverines.

Part Two is largely dedicated to Adam's NFL experience

Part One:

Maddie Coon: So I'm here with my brother, Adam Coon, and I get to break the All-Access story which I am very excited about. I gotta be honest, so I think this might be my favorite interview because I get to sit down with my favorite wrestler and actually get to talk about wrestling, so it's basically like family dinners, but no one else can chime in, so this is exciting!

Adam Coon: Yes! (Laughs) Very!

Maddie supporting her brother at the Michigan state tournament with a Gabe Dean photobomb (photo courtesy of the Coon family)

MC: Let's just start the whole point of the interview, I will let you officially say the words but:

AC: So for the last year and a half I have pursued NFL football and I found out what it would take for me to continue to pursue the NFL and I have decided that my heart is no longer in that, to go down that path. So at this point, I have decided that I will be returning to wrestling full-time and attempting to make the World Team and hopefully, eventually the Olympic team and actually wrestle in the Olympics. I will be moving back to wrestling and pursuing my goals there.

MC: I need to say, selfishly, I am so excited that you're finally saying this because I look like the world's worst sister. We had the MSU Open and every single person that knew I was related to you, came up to me and asked "hey, what's Adam doing? What's he up to?" and I'm a horrible liar (laughs) so I just have to play dumb like "I don't know. It's been a busy semester. Haven't talked to him." They're like "where's he at now?" So I just keep saying "I don't know." So I'm glad that this is finally coming out and I can be a supportive sister and not look like I don't talk to my family. But I am very excited that you are going to be back on the mat. I like football… but we were raised as a wrestling family.

AC: (cracking up this entire time) We're a wrestling family.

MC: I like wrestling. I like being able to yell from the corner. I need to refresh on my Greco but what are your next moves? What are you up to? What's the plan now?

AC: The plan now is to just go Greco full time. We're still trying to get some pieces in order to make sure I get practice partners and coaching and all that stuff there and just kind of rebuild what I had walked away from. I had things set up that I don't have currently have set up so it's just kind of, at the time of doing this interview, obviously I'm still keeping things quiet as I'm trying to get things back in order, so hopefully by the time this interview comes out, things will be in order and I'll be in full swing training and I'll be a monster again in the Greco world.

But yeah, at this time of doing this interview, we're still putting some things in place to make sure that I have the optimal time and environment to make sure I have the training that I need as well as try to get that extra training that I… I can't say necessarily that I didn't get prior to this route, but we gotta find what was missing to break through to get on the… I've been on the podium before, but we gotta find a way to get back on there again. So I need to find that and more to get higher. It's putting those things in place to try to get all of that in order to basically become that Greco monster that I want to be.

AC (Edit/Update): Since initially doing this interview many of the pieces I discussed have fallen into place. Alongside being able to train with the Cliff Keen Wrestling Club, we have also brought in Coach Momir Petkovic to help out with my Greco training. He obviously has competed and coached at the highest level and coached me in 2018 when I won my silver medal. So, it is nice to learn from him as I try to elevate my Greco wrestling.

MC: Do you know where you're going to end up yet, where you're going to be practicing? Or is that still up in the air?

AC: I've already talked with Coach Sean Bormet and I will be back with the Cliff Keen Wrestling Club and getting all that stuff to go so I will be moving back to the Ann Arbor direction.

MC:So that means I have to break out the blue and yellow again, right? (laughs)

AC: (laughs) I would like that but I don't know if your current employment would like that (laughs) but I guess…

MC: I can wear the blue and silver shirts, that's more Cliff Keen, right?

AC: There ya go! It doesn't necessarily have to be the maize and blue because Cliff Keen is at Michigan, but Cliff Keen is it's own thing so you at least need to bring out the red, white, and blue for sure.

MC: Yes I will have to get some USA stuff! And next time you make shirts can I request that they're not just blue and yellow? I know your last one was red, white, and blue but still.

AC: I will talk to Cliff Keen Athletic about that one. I know we had two different variants. Yeah we had the red, white and blue shirt but we had two variants of the first one. We did have the maize and blue which I did force upon you, I will give you that one, but we did have a silver one.

MC:I think that was still during, as we refer to at State as my "Dark Time" so I think I did choose the blue and yellow one. That was on me.

AC: (laughs) we did make the transition over to red, white, and blue and if we get more, make the world team, get some more t-shirts going, yes they will be more emphasized on red, white, and blue but there might be a big emphasis on the blue (laughs)

MC: Okay, fair. I'll take that.

AC: I will say us Michigan grads and Michigan people just really don't like the color red for some reason, I have no idea why (laughs).

MC: I can't say we at State are huge fans of red either so I understand. (laughs) So, switching gears, you've been on the football scene. You've been out of the wrestling world for a while so I want to talk about football. I know because I'm your sister that football was a big deal in high school and you had to decide between football and wrestling when you went to college. Let's start there: what made you end up choosing wrestling? What was that process like?

Some of Adam's collegiate recruiting letters

AC: Well, as you were saying, we grew up together so you really know what was going on behind the scenes but, I love playing football and I loved every aspect of it. I love just the atmosphere, the rough and tough, just gettin' after it. I was able to play a very fun position in high school. They kind of made up a position for me. I played linebacker hybrid-type, roaming defensive lineman position, where I didn't have any pass drop responsibility and was able to just, basically just clobber kids. I didn't really have many assignments per se, but I was able to just clobber kids, so I had a lot of fun doing that.

Adam Coon (62) on the gridiron for Fowlerville HS (photo courtesy of the Coon family)

I ended up doing really well, getting a lot of tackles, getting a lot of stats, and I was starting to get noticed. So I was getting a lot of attention from a lot of different colleges to play football which any of my classmates can attest to that. Our football coach was also my math teacher so he would come in every day to math class with just a stack of football material and he'd give it to me. And of course there were a couple of my teammates in there always asking "Dude, who's coming after you now?!" "Who's getting your attention now?" and of course there's other kids in the class going "Seriously? More mail?" So that's always fun.

But needless to say, there was something in me that really wanted to play football but also wanted to wrestle at the same time. I kinda had to do a lot of inward soul-searching to figure out what was my next step in life, what did I want to do. I knew I wanted to go to college, I knew I wanted to get an aerospace engineering degree, and I knew I wanted to be an athlete, I just didn't know what type of athletics I wanted to pursue.

What kind of helped me make a decision to go wrestling and put off football was a guy by the name of Stephen Neal and just kind of hearing his story. The man's got two national titles, a world championship, and three Super Bowl rings. And he was able to make that transition from wrestling over to football without even playing college football at all.

Also after hearing his story and hearing that it was possible, but very hard to do, I thought that that would be the route that I would want to go. Now after I decided that, I definitely heard of more guys like Carlton Haselrig and Brock Lesnar as well as others that also made attempts and some were successful and some weren't but the main guy that kind of helped me decided that that's what I wanted to do was Stephen Neal.

MC: Did you ever have an idea of what college you wanted to go to if you were going to play football?

AC: Play football?

MC:I know we used to get Tennessee letters all the time. They tried hard!

AC: Yes! (Laughs hard) Tennessee sent a lot of letters. Mississippi State sent me a bunch of stuff, too. They were probably one and two for material. Probably the main ones besides those two, the only other ones that I was even partially entertaining was probably Michigan State. Just because we grew up so close to Lansing at the time. Which is crazy! Which is crazy.

MC: And Mom raised us Michigan State fans.

AC: Yes, Mom raised us Michigan State fans. Actually, yes, I was wearing Michigan State shirts before going to Michigan.

MC: In every school picture.

AC: Obviously the one big issue other than I wanted to wrestle versus play football was they don't have an aerospace engineering program and I knew that's what I wanted to do and academics were definitely going to come first in this decision. Obviously, when things were all said and done, wrestling at the University of Michigan was definitely the best choice I could have made and pretty much the only choice that made sense when everything kinda dwindled down that I wanted to wrestle. Then aerospace engineering, I believe, was the number two program right now and I know it's the oldest program in the country, so there's a lot of tradition and history that went with it there, too. And then obviously the team was up-and-coming and we had a really good recruiting class, so everything kinda fell into place to go to Michigan. That definitely helped with the decision.

MC: So while you were wrestling at Michigan, did you ever think about football? Was football still on your radar? Did you want to go to football workouts or something while you were still wrestling?

AC: Initially, no. I had made the decision that I was going to wrestle and I was going to put everything I had into wrestling and into being the absolute best wrestler that I could. Football completely, I can't even say took a backseat, it was nonexistent when I first went because I made the decision to go wrestling. So it was wrestling… and football may make an appearance later in my life, but I was not going to waste any energy going that route because I was not ready to go that route.

Now, I never took a redshirt year to start, so by the time that my junior year was kinda finishing up, that's when I started thinking of like 'I didn't take a redshirt so I technically have another year of eligibility that I could play a different sport.' So about the end of my junior year, I know I initially talked with coaches about doing an Olympic shirt possibly because that was 2016 and we decided that it was best for my academics to not do that and best for the team to continue on and I was fine with that decision but it did kinda mess with the whole football thing.

I had talked with Coach Harbaugh and he was working on trying to get me in for that fifth year to go play football and talking with a few other coaches and things were getting set up but then in '16 after the Olympic Trials, I just couldn't use my shoulder. It was just so banged up and beat up from the years that I needed to have shoulder surgery to get that thing repaired. So I had to have labral surgery and it was nine months of hard recovery and all that fun stuff, so I used my redshirt then and there and then my fifth year ended up being my fourth year wrestling and football just kind of ended right there.

So I didn't think about football too much until right around that point and then surgery kind of ended it so it was kinda like I'm still thinking of football. I would like to try my hand at it because again, Stephen Neal wrestled all the way through and then transitioned over to football so it was toward the later end that I started thinking "I wonder when football would fit" but I still wasn't ready to move into football at that time.

Adam Coon at the 2016 NCAA 3rd Place match (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo;

MC: So, when did you officially make the football transition and how did that work?

To be continued in Part Two tomorrow....


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