Dorman, longtime Platte County wrestling coach, set for hall induction this week

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Former Platte County wrestling coach Phil Dorman will be inducted in the Missouri Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame this week. Donald Siegrist started the interview with a bluntly honest question. The former superintendent wanted to know if Phil Dorman could take the Pirates’ wrestling team to the elite level.

If hired as the new wrestling coach, could he beat perennial powerhouse Oak Grove?

“That’s the plan,” Dorman remembers telling Siegrist.

Dorman got the job, and his plan worked out pretty well.

Recently retired after 19 seasons in charge at Platte County, Dorman will be inducted into the Missouri Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, which is based in Stillwater, Okla. The ceremony will take place Sunday, Oct. 25 in Columbia, Mo.

“There’s probably a lot of guys that have been in the business a lot longer than I have that deserve to be in, but I’m honored,” said Dorman, part of a four-member class this year. “I don’t like stuff like this. It’s not my personality.”

Citizen file photo Platte County wrestling coach Phil Dorman, left, talks with then-senior Jared Burns during the 2010 Class 2 Missouri State Wrestling Championships at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.

Dorman’s credentials don’t lack.

In his 19 seasons, Platte County went 156-35-3 in duals and won 11 conference and nine district championships. The Pirates went from a solid small-school program to a seven-time Missouri State Wrestling Championships team champion — three at the smallest level and four more as the Pirates grew into a Class 2 profile. They also won four other state trophies for top-four finishes.

During that span, Dorman coached 31 individual state champions and 76 other medalists (top-six finishers).

In addition to the accolades, Platte County went from a KCI Conference member to the Midland Empire Conference to the Suburban Conference, and as the school grew, Dorman challenged his wrestlers with an increasingly tough schedule. The Pirates have traveled to Texas and Louisiana in recent years for big tournaments in addition to helping create and run the Kansas City Stampede — an annual December tournament that brings elite teams to the area from nine different states.

Dorman learned the philosophy from one of his mentors: Bob Glasgow, the architect of Oak Grove’s 13-time state champion dynasty.

“That’s what I wanted out of this program,” Dorman said.

Dorman grew up in a small town near Pleasant Hill, Mo. and didn’t wrestle until he reached high school. A 98-pounder as a freshman, he never qualified for state but fell in love with the sport and geared his education toward becoming a coach and teacher.

Out of college, Dorman found his way back to Pleasant Hill to coach the youth team before becoming an assistant at the high school level for the Roosters. He knew that he wanted a head coaching job and insists to this day that always eyed Platte County because of its existing talent and perceived potential.

“When I was up-and-coming, when I was an assistant, when I was a youth coach going into the education business, I was that young guy that I thought I should be a head coach right off the bat,” Dorman said. “I was knowledgeable enough, and I wanted to be a head coach right off the bat. And I’m glad I wasn’t. Even all during that time and the time I was an assistant, I said if I could choose one job to have it would be the Platte County job.

“Problem is there were a lot of guys out there that would get this job.”

Chip Sherman stepped down from the head wrestling position at Platte County in 1994, and Dorman applied, leading to the interview with Siegrist and eventually his first head coaching job.

In Dorman’s third season, Jereme Blankenship became the third state champion in program history and the first of the 31 under Dorman’s direction. The Pirates rank just outside of the top 10 all-time for individual champions — the majority from Dorman’s tenure — and the seven team state titles rank tied for fifth.

The 2001 Pirates, Dorman’s second state champions, set multiple records including most points scored at a state tournament (265½) , the largest winning margin (133½) most individual champions at a single tournament (seven, tied with two others) and most medalists at a single state tournament (12, tied with two others). Three of those records still stand.

Blankenship knew the difference in direction under Dorman, but even Platte County’s third individual state champion expressed a bit of surprise exactly how far the program has come thanks to his direction.

“There was a lot of things different when Dorman got there — different styles. Everything worked out,” Blankenship said. “They went on quite a streak there for a while. I knew it would be good but maybe not quite that good.

“They do a lot more than we did. I know that — a lot more time and dedication.”

Dorman credits the success to surrounding himself with good people and making well-thought-out decisions. Part of that has always included giving assistant coaches a prominent role, a practice that continues under current head coach Reggie Burress.

“I think the vision he brought here is what got the program from where it was — tying Weston his first year here to winning seven state titles,” said Burress, who came to Platte County as an assistant in 1997 and remained in that position until taking over as head coach in 2013-14. “He knew what his vision was when he got here, and he executed it very well, all the time. That’s the key to it: sticking with your vision and not getting off track.”

Dorman continues to officiate wrestling and continues to serve as Platte County’s activities director. He helps out with wrestling questions as needed and remains involved, but he’s been comfortable stepping away.

Renee Dorman nominated her husband for this honor, and she found out before him. He recently received a letter in the mail notifying him of his impending hall of fame induction.

Although typically reluctant to take the spotlight, Dorman grew comfortable talking about the honor and reflecting on the past and all that’s been accomplished. He’s happy to be at Platte County and always knew this was the place for him.

“Platte County became my home; Platte City became my home,” he said. “I’m proud of what’s been done, but again, it was never about me.”