The Packers have announced that Keldric Stokes of Thorp High School in Thorp, Wis., has been named the Green Bay Packers High School Coach of the Week.
Stokes, in his third year as head coach of the Cardinals, has his team out to a 6-1 record as they and other schools in their conference have made the transition to 8-Man football this season. Stokes took over the Cardinals program following a winless 0-8 season in 2018. In three short years, he has been able to change the attitude and culture of the program. While winning on the field is important to Stokes, impacting the lives of his players and the community off the field matters even more. Stokes often goes above and beyond the role of coach to make sure his players are set up for success down the road.
"I've had some young men that have had some tough times, whether that is at home or at school," Stokes said. "I've talked to their parents and said, 'hey on Saturdays can they come over and we'll work on some homework?' If there's not a father in the home, you can come over and see how I interact with my kids and you come and hang out and just be in a controlled environment…I had a young man live with my wife and our kids for a year, and I think it was helpful to give him a different aspect and outlook on life. That's what our goal is. I always tell the players: if in ten years you can come back and tell me what kind of job you have and tell me about your family, that means to me that I did the right thing. It's not always about winning. If you go to college and you play [football], great. If you don't, I just want you to have success and I want to play as big of a role as you'll allow me to play."
Stokes graduated from Benton Harbor High School in Michigan in 2002. Throughout high school, he participated in football, basketball and baseball. He played quarterback under Coaches Willie Wilson and Larry Featherstone. Following high school, Stokes attended Huron University in South Dakota and played quarterback for the football team until it closed in 2005. He then transferred to UW-Stout where he played quarterback under Coach Todd Strop. Stokes graduated from UW-Stout in 2008. His coaching career began while at UW-Stout as a QB coach for the Blue Devils from 2006 until 2007. In 2008, Stokes went on to be the offensive coordinator for one year at Bacone College in Oklahoma. Stokes' coaching career resumed in 2018 when he took a role as an assistant coach for the Thorp Middle School football program. In 2019, Stokes was named the head coach of the Cardinals.
Stokes was surprised when he heard the news that he had been selected as the Coach of the Week.
"It was shocking, but pretty cool!" Stokes laughed. "That's a testament to my players and my coaching staff. I'm surrounded by great people. You ask what kind of kid I want around me, what kind of coach I want around me? I want a good person. We can figure out the football part later, I just wanted to be surrounded by good people, and people that do things the right way, that's contagious. The fact that I'm getting this award, it's for the team, it's for all the hard work they put in and buying into the things I've asked them to. The coaching staff and the long hours they put in, I've got great people around me. Our administration has been amazing at school, the support we get to try and turn this thing around; it's not just one person, it's been amazing."
Stokes and his staff oversee a program of 22 players. His assistant staff includes Jimmey Lane, Alec Literski, Joshua Syryczuk, and Shaun Marquardt. In addition to coaching, Stokes is also an internet manager at Courtesy Auto & Truck in Thorp. Stokes and his wife, Shayla, have one daughter, Kae'Lynn, and three sons, Brayden, Callen, and Jaxon.
About the Green Bay Packers High School Coach of the Week Program:
The Green Bay Packers Coach of the Week program supports football outreach efforts by giving high school coaches the recognition they deserve. Nominations can be submitted by 10 a.m. every Monday to Ryan Fencl, Packers football outreach specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org. All nominations should include the nominee's name, address, school, phone number and reason he/she is deserving of the award. Continuing with last year's format, the Packers are seeking coaches to be nominated regardless of their teams' on-field performance. Rather, the nominee could be honored for how they have turned programs around, how the team has impacted the community, or how the coach impacts the players and their families.