An opportunity for redemption |

An opportunity for redemption

Dale Shrull
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Photo courtesy of Kathy GaberColtin Ostermiller, right, wrestles Braxten Franz of Montrose in the Class 4A 215-pound championship match at the Pepsi Center on Feb. 20. Ostermiller, who is a former Grand Valley High School student, pinned Franz in overtime to win the title.

DENVER – Coltin Ostermiller’s life was anything but golden a few years ago.

Jail appeared to be his destination, and he was traveling in a stolen car.

Bad decisions and hanging with the wrong crowd was Coltin’s downfall. He definitely didn’t need sunglasses – his future was not bright.

Second chances are usually reserved for those men and women who have a tough time learning lessons. Maybe after several wrong turns and bad decisions they will see the light and take advantage of the coveted second chance.

Many never succeed. Coltin’s future success is still a work in progress. But he certainly appears to be on the right road.

On Feb. 20, Coltin Ostermiller may have became a poster child for second chances.

The muscular 215-pound wrestler won the Class 4A championship for Ridge View Academy, a school for troubled youth.

As the 18-year-old basked in his victory with family and friends, Coltin cried and rejoiced. It was a title that came with hard work, hard lessons, and of course, lots of hard knocks.

This is not your average journey to a state wrestling title.

As a sophomore, he was on the Grand Valley wrestling team. Then he picked the wrong people to hang with. It’s a decision he now takes full responsibility for.

“I ran into some bad people, associated myself with some bad friends, then God gave me the second chance to do what I needed to do,” he said. “I didn’t leave Grand Valley by choice, but when I came to Ridge View and joined the wrestling team things started turning around for me.”

Coltin is open, honest and embarrassed about his past.

His voice drops when he talks about his criminal behavior, but that same voice is resurrected and a smile appears when he talks about where he’s at now.

“Accessory to auto theft,” he says about some of his trouble. “After that I just continued going down, hanging out with bad friends and negative people.”

Jail or Ridge View was the choice, says Coltin’s mom, Diana Cataffo.

But the choice in itself doesn’t guarantee success.

With a voice hoarse from all the cheering, she, too, is open and honest about her son’s life. She gives so much credit to the structured style of Ridge View, and to wrestling for Coltin’s turnaround.

“Oh my God, this is such a second-chance story for Coltin,” she says smiling and out of breath. She wasn’t about to hide her jubilation over her son’s state wrestling title.

She led a small but boisterous and deafening cheering section at the Pepsi Center.

Coltin was a team of one for Ridge View, and he became the school’s first-ever state champ.

“I heard ’em,” Coltin says, grinning. “For being only one guy, I probably had the biggest cheering section here.”

Watching Coltin celebrate, you can see the high-energy youngster that loves to be with his friends. But you quickly see the cordial and polite young man that won’t forget the road that led him to Ridge View and a second chance.

He answers questions with “yes sir” and credits his coaches, teachers, family and friends. He’s a very humble state champ.

“Without my coaches being beside me giving me all the extra attention I needed, all the extra work I needed, I would have never accomplished anything like this,” he says.

In the back hallway after his victory, mother and son fell together as the rest of the smiling cheering section looked on.

“We cried, we just held each other and cried,” Cataffo says, who now lives in Castle Rock.

It’s been a long couple of years for them.

She puts Coltin’s success squarely on his sturdy shoulders and the Ridge View program. His turnaround even surprised her.

“He turned it around 100 percent more than I thought he could,” she says.

This is also a story about the power of sports and the positive influence it can have on young people.

“When he started wrestling again, I never really thought about it,” Diana says. “I thought it was just something for him to do, but then when I saw his whole life turn around, his thought process, his work ethic, everything turned around for him, and that’s when I knew he would take this all the way.”

It’s “the three Rs”, of sorts – Ridge View, wrestling and resolve, and maybe throw in one more – redemption.

Even without the criminal background story, Coltin’s state title victory – an overtime pin of Montrose’s Braxten Franz – would be impressive.

He didn’t wrestle his junior year, then he had a bone cancer scare in 2009. The scare turned out to just be calcium deposits around a bone fracture in his leg.

Coltin was happy at Grand Valley. But when he decided to hitch a ride with trouble, the decision was made for him.

Diana gives so much credit to Ridge View Academy for giving her son the structure and guidance he needs.

“It’s been so hard for him, but he’s come back stronger, more goal orientated, he’s more focused, he’s dedicated. All of that was gone before he came to Ridge View,” she says.

When she looks back, she saw a boy who had no drive, a boy who lost his moral compass. A boy who had no future.

“I was honestly thinking he was just giving up. He just quit, he was just going to settle for whatever came along. And Ridge View turned all that around,” she says.

And now, Coltin Ostermiller is a Colorado state wrestling champion.

“I could not be any happier or more proud of myself than I am at this moment. This is a moment that I will never forget in my entire life,” he says.

After hanging with the wrong crowd, he now sees what life can be when he hangs with the right crowd.

“It’s something that you never thought would be possible after going down the road that I went down,” he says. “I never really thought I could come back from something like that. I did a complete 180 in my life.”

Obviously, Coltin still has a way to go in his rehabilitation, but he’s on track to graduate and now sees a brighter future for himself.

“I looked at this as my second chance at life, a second chance to make everything right for myself,” he says with a smile. “Yes sir, this is the turning point in my life. I now realize that if I keep on this track my life can be nothing but successful.”

A poster child for second chances? Coltin doesn’t mind that title at all.

He smiles: “Yes sir, I am.”

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