On the Mat with Stephen Doty
Stephen Doty rarely has gotten a lot of attention during his two years at Virginia. He is a quiet guy who goes about his business every day and gets the job done, in the classroom and on the mat. But once he steps onto the mat, he is ferocious. He has been the ultimate team player, doing whatever is asked of him, including filling in at multiple weight classes this year. Despite giving up a lot of weight in several matches, Doty has been extremely impressive, racking up a 23-9 record. He stepped into the lineup three times last weekend, picking up three victories en route to ACC Wrestler of the Week honors. He took a quick break from his busy schedule this week to talk about a wide range of subjects.
Talk about your season been so far. Has it met your expectations?
Doty: I’ve been pretty pleased with my season so far. I think I’ve improved a lot over the past few months. I think one of the biggest things has been that I’ve gotten into my head that before I step onto the mat, I’ve had enough training to wrestle and to win my matches. That confidence has really helped me a lot this year.
Where do you think that confidence is coming from?
Doty: The coaches have done a really good job of helping me bring it out. I think that if you can’t find the confidence inside of you then you aren’t going to find it, but it does help to have the encouragement of coaches and everyone on the team, so that has been a big part of that too.
Talk about your drill partners in the wrestling room – three are nationally ranked.
Doty: It’s been great. It’s great to come into practice each day and get to scrap with some of the better guys in the country. I can’t think of a better situation. It’s fun to come into practice and know that you’re going to be pushed and have to fight for your spot everyday. Growing up, that’s one of the things that I always had – good drill partners. It helps you so much to have good people around you to help you improve, and you can help them improve.
Does the fact that they’re all doing well too do anything for you?
Doty: It does. I realize that my place here is to help them improve and help them do the best they can at Nationals. I’ll get my shot, but I’m here in the room to help them all get better. That’s my role on the team right now so that’s what I’m trying to do.
What are the challenges of not knowing week by week where you are going to wrestle?
Doty: It hasn’t been too much of a challenge because I have gotten into the mindset of knowing that I am going to wrestle where the coaches want me to wrestle. It’s the coaches’ call, so if they want me to wrestle at a given weight, I’ll wrestle there. When you’re in my situation you can’t be picky about where you get matches. I just want to get matches; I just want to wrestle. It can be a challenge going up against bigger guys, and it always is going to be a challenge, but it’s a challenge I look forward to. When wrestling the bigger, stronger, heavier guys it has a lot more to do with technique instead of relying on strength, but I’m ok with that.
Off the mat, you’re an extremely quiet guy. On the mat, you’re an animal. What is it about stepping on the mat that unleashes that for you?
Doty: I’m not a very nice person on the mat. I try to be nice everywhere else, but wrestling is more enjoyable when you’re going harder and it’s the nature of the sport. I enjoy it for what it is.
What was the recruiting process like for you, having come from Missouri?
Doty: I didn’t get recruited until late in the process; it was the beginning of my senior year. UVa was one of the places I visited on an unofficial visit and felt like it was a good school and I liked the area, and I wanted to see some places other than St. Louis and Missouri. It seemed like a really good fit. The coaches wanted me here, so I came here. I am really glad that I am here and if I could do it over, I would. This is where I want to be. I really enjoy the academics here; I am in the engineering school, and I really couldn’t ask for a better situation. I am leaning toward being a civil engineer, and hopefully that will set me on the right course.
Tell us about your trip two summers ago to the Ukraine?
Doty: I went with a group to the Ukraine called Athletes in Action, which is an athletics organization that sends athletics teams to different countries to compete and to share the Gospel. It was a very fun and interesting experience. I got to wrestle but also experience a totally different culture and atmosphere. The Ukraine is an area of the world where wrestling is huge, so it’s a very different dynamic around the sport, which was pretty cool. It increased my appreciation for the sport; once people in the street knew you were a wrestler they would say, “Oh, you’re a wrestler!” You have a different type of status as a wrestler in those countries than you do here. It was a fun trip. I’ve always wanted to wrestle internationally, so it’s something I’d might like to pursue in the future.
Tell us about your Mohawk.
Doty: I have always buzzed my hair. Last summer when I went home, I was cutting my own hair and I had cut the sides first, and one of my sisters said, “You won’t keep it as a Mohawk.” So I did. It was just to do it – no real reason behind it. I like the look.
Food: Grandma’s Mexican food
Spot on Grounds: the gardens behind The Lawn
Wrestling Moment: Winning states my senior year
Class: Intro to Civil Engineering
Movie: Lord of The Rings trilogy
Author: J.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis