Kevin Stanley’s mother signed him up for wrestling without his permission. Stanley, a member of the WFRHS class of 1999, was angry, but his mother told him he had to complete the year. Two weeks later, Stanley had fallen in love with the sport.
Soon, Stanley broke the record for wins at WFHS with 148, and has now been inducted in our school’s first Hall of Fame.
“It’s humbling. I think the fact my father went in his inaugural Hall of Fame class, and now I am is pretty neat,” Stanley said.
Stanley is a 1999 4A state wrestling champion, a four-time regional champion and conference champion. For Stanley, his time at Wake Forest impacted his wrestling career later on.
“From a sports perspective, the coaches I worked with expected the best from you every day,” Stanley said. “I feel like the work ethic they helped me develop helped to lead to my success in athletics.”
Stanley finds the highest honor in being a Hall of Famer is going in alongside former coaches Rock Harrison and Ron Hales, who coached Stanley in his other sport, football. However, there is one athletic accomplishment Stanley is most proud of: helping coach others on high school teams.
“I remember coaching Rayshaun Daniels wrestling at regionals his junior year. The head coach was in the back with an injured wrestler, so I ended up as the only coach available,” Stanley said. “Rayshaun was down by 4 with 30 seconds left in the match when he ended up hitting a throw and winning by one to qualify for states.”
In high school, Stanley’s favorite subject in school was history, and he went on to wrestle at and graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) where he felt prepared by his coaches, coach Sadler and coach Harden.
“The two both pushed me to my limits and always expected me to give my best effort. They also both pushed me to do the right thing regardless of the outcome,” Stanley said.
With the aid of many coaches, Stanley approached improvement in his tendency to want to do things one way only.
“I worked with coaches from all around the Triangle area that helped me develop into the wrestler I was,” Stanley said. “I feel like I was constantly working on ways to improve by listening to any coach and all styles of coaching.”
Stanley had offers from UNC, NC State, Duke, Penn, LeHigh, Cornell, Harvard, Appalachian State and Virginia Military Institute, among others.
“I felt from the time that I started if I worked hard to be the best I would. My parents and first coach Will Lake always told me that I could achieve anything if I put the time and effort into practice,” Stanley said.
Stanley, who is now the Vice President of New Carolina Concrete Constructors, has one piece of advice for student athletes.
“I’d make sure they are prepared for life after sports and to take that same work ethic into all they do,” Stanley said.
There is a motto that leads Stanley in his endeavors.
“The will to win is more important than the skill to win,” Stanley said.
One goal Stanley still has is to start a youth wrestling program in his local town to give back to the community, for Stanley feels the impact of wrestling in his life even now.
Stanley said, “It prepared me to work for the things I want to achieve in life. You’re not handed anything, and putting the time and effort into things will help you reach your goals in life. “