2005 Recipient: Ron Stolski, Brainerd (Minn.) High School

Brainerd's Ron Stolski received the 2005 Power of Influence Award at the Coach of the Year Dinner during the 2006 AFCA Convention in Dallas.Brainerd (Minn.) High School Head Coach Ron Stolski has been named the winner of the 2005 Power of Influence Award. Stolski was nominated for the award by the Minnesota High School Football Coaches Association.

The award, which is presented jointly by the American Football Coaches Association and the American Football Coaches Foundation®, will be presented to Stolski at the AFCA Coach of the Year Dinner on January 10 at the 2006 AFCA Convention in Dallas, Texas. Stolski will also receive a $1,000 stipend from the AFCF.

The Power of Influence Award was created as a way for the AFCA and AFCF to honor a deserving high school football coach for his effect on his players, school and community. This award is not based on wins and losses, however, it is noted that coaches of powerful influence have longevity and success. It is the first AFCA award specifically designed to honor a high school coach.

Stolski has been a head football coach in Minnesota high schools for 44 years, and is currently in his 31st year as the head coach at Brainerd High School in Brainerd, Minn. He has a career record of 280-132-5 in his first 43 years, with 14 conference championships and five trips to the state playoffs. With his 280 wins, Stolski is currently Minnesota's winningest active coach in Class 5A. He is currently a member of five Halls of Fame, including the Minnesota State Athletic Directors, Macalester College, Park Center High School, Patrick Henry High School and Brainerd High School Halls of Fame.

Stolski's passion for football can be found all over the state of Minnesota. He co-authored the Minnesota high school football playoff structure, which began in 1982. Stolski also began the Brainerd Coaching Clinic in 1975, which has been described as, "the original high school coaches clinic for high school coaches by high school coaches." He founded the Minnesota State Athletic Directors Hall of Fame and the Minnesota Salute to Co-curricular Activities. Stolski speaks at many seminars and conferences in the state of Minnesota and across the nation, and is a frequent contributor to various publications, including the National Federation News.

Stolski is a past president and was recently selected as the first-ever Executive Director of the Minnesota High School Football Coaches Association. He has served on numerous committees for the MHSFCA, along with working with organizations at the national level. Stolski was a member of the National Federation Athletic Directors Advisory Committee from 1988-1991 and the National Federation Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Committee from 1989-1992. He has won numerous awards over the years, including being named the Nike Minnesota Athletic Director of the Year in 1997 and a recipient of the National Federation Citation in 1988.

The other finalists for this year's award were: Jim Bradley, Mayfield High School (Las Cruces, N.M.); Maurice Fitzgerald, Pearl-Cohn High School (Nashville, Tenn.); Don Lessner, Mason High School (Erie, Michigan); Frank McClellan, Barton High School (Barton, Ark.); John Nyhaug, Viborg High School (Viborg, S.D.); Hugh Sandifer, Wylie High School (Abilene, Tex.); Rollins Stallworth, Proctor R. Hug High School (Reno, Nev.); Brent Steuerwald, Shenendehowa High School (Clifton Park, N.Y.); Perry Thomas, Tilghman High School (Paducah, Ky.); Rob Younger, Sweet Home High School (Sweet Home, Ore.).

The first Power of Influence Award was presented in 2002 when Amarillo (Texas) High School's Larry Dippel was named the inaugural winner. Other past winners include John McKissick, Summerville (S.C.) High School (2003), and Marcus Borden, East Brunswick (N.J.) High School (2004).

The AFCA was founded in 1922 and currently has more than 10,000 members around the world ranging from the high school level to the professional ranks. According to its constitution, the AFCA was formed, in part, to "maintain the highest possible standards in football and in the coaching profession" and to "provide a forum for the discussion and study of all matters pertaining to football."

The AFCF, created in 2000, provides financial support for the educational goals of the AFCA.

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“Coach George Smith is not only an influence on young people, but the influence is multiplied many times in the beliefs of the young people he helped mold into amazing human beings. George is an outstanding coach, but more importantly, he is an outstanding gentleman.” —Tina Jones, Principal of St. Thomas Aquinas High School