AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — UB Bulls red-shirt freshman wrestler Colt Cotten wondered as a child what it would be like to have a catch with his father. Cotten never got the chance to satisfy his curiosity.
Cotten told News 4 Sports, “I don’t want to degrade Rodney Lawrence Simpson, but he is nothing to me.
Simpson is Colt’s biological father. Colt has not seen him since infancy.
“He was convicted of possession of dangerous drugs, criminal weapon charges and everything under the books,” Colt said. “Never meet him, never talked to him and I will just leave it that until I decide I want to say I did it without you.”
Without his biological father, Colt became a four-time high school All-American wrestler. While the sport was in many ways an outlet for Colt, it also opened the door for relationships that helped compensate for his father’s absence.
“I met coach when I was nine or ten years old. He walked into a wrestling camp,” Colt recalled. “I was like who is this guy. I want to know his name and I want to train with him.”
Colt trained with Coach John Stutzman, attended Bloomsburg University where Stutzman was a coach and then followed him to the University at Buffalo, when Stutzman got a job with the Bulls.
“We just gravitated towards each other, with his passion for wrestling,” Stutzman explained. “We had a similar background how he grew up, how I grew up.”
Stutzman added, “My biological father left my mother when I was born. My mother worked 20 hours a day, just raising me and my sister.”
“So I see his success and I see where I am at and how I am wrestling at the same school he wrestled at and I went through the same stuff he went through as a teen, as a child, and I see that it is doable,” Colt explained. “I see that he made it happen because he is driven. I knew that I am driven and I needed him to open my eyes to show me the way to the top.”
Colt may one day call Rodney Lawrence Simpson and say “I did it without you.” While he grew up without his father, he can no longer say he does not have a dad.
“I want to watch him grow, get a degree and I want to watch him win national championships,” Stutzman said as he held back tears. “He is my son and he has to earn his way.”