Adam Coon, a dean’s list aerospace engineering student, is the nation’s No. 2-ranked heavyweight in Greco-Roman wrestling. In between problem sets, design projects and exams this academic year, the rising star trained for Olympic tryouts. There was just one spot on the U.S. team in his weight class and style. To nab it — and go to Rio for the 2016 summer games — Coon needed to upstage an older, long-time master. Find out if he did, and what it was like to be Coon during one of the most demanding times of his life.
“EVERY KID HAS A DREAM JOB. MINE WAS TO BE AN ASTRONAUT. I NEVER GREW OUT OF IT. But then in high school, I realized I was too big to fit into a space shuttle. That’s when I decided I wanted to design better space shuttles so bigger people could fit into them. I figured out that aerospace engineering was the best route. And I’ve loved it ever since.
My grade point average is about 3.5 and everybody takes me pretty seriously now, especially on North Campus. But my freshman year, I didn’t wear any athletic stuff. I wanted to make sure people knew I took school very seriously and I got in because I had academic reasons to be here and not just because of my athletics. I’m not a dumb jock.
I came to Michigan because they had such a great, highly ranked aerospace engineering department. To me, the hardest thing about engineering is really the workload. The material is fun and you can learn it. But when it comes to the work that needs to be done, that’s the hardest part.
How do I fit it all? I prioritize my time. As soon as I’m done with classes, I need to have a mental switch in my head to make sure I’m all about wrestling. I don’t think about classwork, I don’t think about homework. I’m all wrestling for the next 2.5 hours.
Then I get into my car and on the ride back to my house, I make a mental switch to thinking about food, getting nourishment. I need to relax a little bit to make sure I’m operating efficiently.
I get my food and then I make that switch again. I’m back to academics. I’m all academics from now on. There’s no wrestling, there’s no distraction, I need to get my homework done. I meet up with people for study groups.
Partying? Ask anybody on the team — Coon doesn’t party. [Laugh.] Coon is in bed by 10 p.m.