Our Opinion: Ron Stolski epitomized The Warrior Way
Ron Stolski’s impact on Brainerd and Minnesota is so much more than his superlatives, which rank among the best in this state for a high school football head coach.
Yes, there are his 58 seasons as a head coach, making him the longest tenured head coach in Minnesota State High School League football history.
There are also the 389 career wins, which ranks second in state history and include many memorable victories in a Brainerd career that started in 1975. As the Warriors head coach, Stolski’s record was 317-147 (.683). He guided the Warriors to 11 state tournaments, 10 section championships, 10 section runner-up finishes and 15 Central Lakes Conference championships.
And we don’t have the room here to go into detail of all the local, state and national honors bestowed upon the coach, including being a member of eight halls of fame and coach of the year honors.
There’s no question Stolski cemented his standing as an icon in his sport and among his peers.
To us, however, Stolski’s legacy and influence is better defined by the positive impact he had on the lives of the scores of players he coached and mentored, by the trust placed in him by the families of those student athletes, and by the community members at large with whom he interacted on a regular basis.
He pretty much summed it up best himself in a Jan. 23 Brainerd Dispatch story announcing his retirement.
“One of the lines I use in my speaking across the country is, ‘When you choose a life in teaching/coaching, you choose to try to make a difference in the lives you touch,’ Stolski said. “My fervent hope is that we have in some way accomplished that goal.”
Stolski indeed epitomized The Warrior Way. His emphasis was less on wins and losses and more about character and doing things the right way. Those are lessons his players and all Brainerd High School athletes he inspired will take with them wherever they go.
We have no doubt Stolski will remain a fixture in our community. As he said, he isn’t stepping away but merely stepping aside.
“I don’t like endings,” Stolski told the Dispatch. “I don’t really want to feel like this is an ending. I just feel like this is time. I don’t want to use some cliche that you will know when it’s time.
“No, I still have the juice, I still have the energy, and I will always love the kids. I prefer to think of this as stepping down.”
Coaching, no doubt, is a stressful job, which makes it all the more remarkable Stolski was able to endure it for almost six decades. We thank him for his years of service in Brainerd, and believe Brainerd’s football programs are in an excellent position because of his years of involvement with them.
Whatever he does and wherever this new chapter in his life takes him, we join the Warrior community in wishing Coach Stolski nothing but the best.