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Legendary Holt wrestling coach Rocky Shaft dies at 65, former wrestlers reflect on his legacy

Coach
Posted at 3:58 PM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 20:03:43-04

LANSING, Mich. — Legendary Holt wrestling coach, Rocky Shaft, always said, "the fun is in the memories."

Coach Shaft
Coach Rocky Shaft

After his passing at 65, his former wrestlers say he left a powerful legacy.

After his passing at 65, his former wrestlers say he left a powerful legacy.

"Over 600 wins as a varsity coach. I think over 200 state qualifiers individually as a varsity coach. I believe 18 state champions. He had three state championship teams," said Jim Lenon, who was on Shaft's team from 1992 to 1996..

Rocky coached wrestling for 47 years.

Coach Shaft
Coach Rocky Shaft talking to his team

Lenon's son Christian said "Holt's a wrestling school... we're like that because of Rocky."

Shaft did more than coach his team to victory, he coached them through life. Christian Lenon said Shaft taught his players to be tough, but also good people.

He recalls one of Shaft's talks at practice that stuck with him.

He recalls one of Shaft's talks at practice that stuck with him.

"He was like, 'You know when I was wrestling when, when I was in high school, I was in this match and my whole rib popped out of my stomach,'" he said. "He's like, 'You know what I did?' He's like, 'We just took some tape and wrapped it up and I kept wrestling and I won the match.'"

Coach Shaft
Coach Shaft talking to his team

The former wrestlers say Shaft was able to pull the best out of each and every one of his players.

The former wrestlers say Shaft was able to pull the best out of each and every one of his players.

Jim Lenon said he was a living example of goodness and "tradition, commitment, not just commitment to goals, but commitment to family and community. You know he instilled that in his athletes."

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