Wellsville's Stephens' selfless attitude leads to career goal

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

Wellsville High School senior Colby Stephens is all about helping others.

Stephens is always looking to ways to make life better for other people.

Wellsville High School senior Colby Stephens, sitting between parents, Mera and Timothy Stephens, signed to wrestle for Neosho County Community College.

“His heart, laugh, determination, work ethic, and desire to see others achieve something that I will miss dearly,” Wellsville assistant wrestling coach Gage Leckner said.

Stephens jumped at the opportunity to help teach children at the elementary level.

“Last year, Wellsville provided me an opportunity to take a class ‘teaching as a career,’” Stephens said. “I was able to work with little kids.”

That para position turned his heart toward a teaching career.

“He is someone that cares about kids, cares about his teammates and that was on display multiple times this year,” Wellsville Athletic Director Brad Burkdoll said. “He is an all-around an outstanding guy.”

Stephens helperd in Special Education and became hooked.

“It took my heart,” he said. “They are all amazing people. Doing this in high school showed me that I can do it, how much fun it is and how much an impact [I can have] on other peoples lives.”

That experience solidified his career choice — be a Special Education teacher and coach.

“Hopefully he will be a teacher and coach some day because I know he will be excellent at that,” Burkdoll said.

Stephens will start his journey toward that goal next fall at Neosho County Community College where he will join the wrestling program.

He was a stalwart the past two seasons for the Eagle wrestling team. He compiled a 56-13 mark and was a two-time state qualifier. He finished third in state as a senior. He helped lead the Eagles to its first league title in decades as well as district and regional championships.

“It was a true blessing to be in [his] corner the past few years,” Leckner said. “Neosho is going to gain an awesome man.”

Stephens, who was also an all-state football player, said picking wrestling over football was an easy choice.

“Wrestling was my first sport,” he said. “I loved wrestling more than anything.”

Stephens said Neosho had a different feel than the other schools.

“It is close to home,” Stephens said. “I am very family-oriented person. The program is really good. I felt at home there.”

Stephens will fill a void at heavyweight (285 pounds) for the Panthers.

“They were in need of a heavyweight,” Stephens said. “Their heavyweights struggled this year.”

Stephens said Wellsville prepared him in so many ways for college and his future. He said Wellsville’s athletic tradition and attitude of never giving in is something that will stick with him.

“Hard work gets you where you need to be,” Stephens said. “I will take that to the next level.”

Burkdoll said Stephens is the kind of person that will make an immediate impact anywhere he goes.

“He is chasing his wrestling dreams,” Burkdoll said.

Stephens said after gaining an associates degree he plans to transfer to Emporia State University and begin in earnest acquiring a degree in education and become a Special Education teacher and coach football and wrestling.