Football: Defensive line coach Anderson gets assistant of the year

Aron Anderson talks with coach Ron Stolski during a game this season. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Brainerd Warriors defensive line coach Aron Anderson won the state assistant of the year, voted on by the Minnesota Football Coaches Association.

The Willmar High School graduate and former Gustavus Adolphus College defensive lineman has coached at Brainerd since 1993. He also teaches special education and physical education at Brainerd.

“It’s very humbling,” Anderson said. “Considering how many worthy assistants there are across the state, including our own, it’s an honor.”

Former head coach Ron Stolski remembers the day Anderson came in his office the summer of ‘93 wanting to coach Brainerd football.

When Anderson sat down Stolski remembered his playing days at Willmar and got him a job as the 8th grade coach that fall.


“The rest is history,” Stolski said. “Aron is the consummate Warrior football coach. He knows his craft, he cares about the kids, cares about the team and he can get emotional and fiery, too, which I like.”

Stolski made a point that the MFCA committee picked him unanimously for the honor.

“It shows the level of respect that Aron has,” Stolski said.

Along with being defensive line coach, Anderson works in the equipment room for all sports. He was supposed to receive the award at the MFCA banquet March 28, which was canceled due to COVID-19.

“It always feels good to be recognized,” Anderson said. “It’s exciting. I look at it as something for our whole program that has stood over the years because I believe there are many others worthy.”

Anderson enjoyed learning under Stolski.

“I wish every young assistant in our district could have the chance to have a mentor like (Stolski),” Anderson said. “Being a young guy coming in, I look back and reflect on how lucky I was to have the mentorship I did as an impressionable young coach.”

One of the reasons why Anderson became one of the Stolski’s long tenured assistants is they shared the same values of putting their student athletes first.


“Caring about the kids is what’s important,” Anderson said. “Having something in place like the Warrior Way, which explains how we behave and treat other people, becomes what the program is about and it bleeds into how these kids turn into adults.”

Anderson will stay on staff under new head coach Jason Freed. The two of them have built a good relationship being on the defensive side of the ball. Freed has been the defensive coordinator the past 11 seasons.

“One thing that will stay constant is the message of caring about the kids,” Anderson said. “That part of the program will carry on in the new era. I believe coach Freed will make that one of his most important things.”

Freed thinks Anderson brings a certain wisdom to the program that is necessary.

“We’ve worked real close on game planning and game prepping and what really makes Aron stand out is he is a relationship guy,” Freed said. “Once you build those relationships kids are willing to run through a brick wall for Aron. He's a tactician as a coach. He's a master of his craft. He allows kids to grow and prosper with a foundation.”

Having someone like Anderson on the staff has helped Freed transition to being head coach.

“Aron’s been around for a long time and just having that trust and stability and knowing that you have someone on staff who is day in and day out going to work hard and kids come first,” Freed said. “Having that experience to lean on is extremely nice.”

Anderson couldn’t think of one memory in particular that stood out most in his 27 years coaching Warriors football.


“It’s tough to pinpoint one memory,” Anderson said. “Some of the best memories are just how hard the kids work and hearing the lessons the coach gives the kids. Just being a part of something greater than yourself. It’s always about the players and seeing them grow not only as players, but as people.”

Defensive line Aron Anderson (right) coaches on the sidelines from a coach this season. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

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