Athletics: Warrior All-Sports Banquet to celebrate excellence and roots
Banquet to celebrate all varsity letterwinners
BRAINERD — When Ron Stolski first became The Brainerd Warriors activities director, or at that time an athletic director in 1975, he had three things he wanted to accomplish.
The first was to start a state-of-the-art weight-lifting program. With the help of long-time friend and fellow football coach Steve Nunnink, that mission was accomplished and is still highlighted every spring with the annual Sertoma Sunrise Warrior Liftathon along with the countess hours Warrior athletes spend in the remodeled high school weight room facility.
Stolski’s second agenda item was to create a world-class all-sports banquet that highlighted not only seniors, but all student-athletes who competed in Brainerd Warriors varsity athletics.
Forty-eight years later, that banquet will be held once again on Monday, May 1, in the Brainerd High School Gymnasium. The Brainerd Warriors All-Sports Banquet, which is for all varsity student-athletes regardless of grade and their families, is open to the public. It’s also where Brainerd announces its Athletic Hall of Fame inductees as well as its Silent Warrior award winners. The public is encouraged to attend, but is asked to contact the activities office for tickets to ensure enough seating and meals are ready.
One of this year’s themes is Stolski’s third goal, which was to create a program-wide theme or mantra which became “The Warrior Way.”
“I wanted to establish a theme that all of the sports could rally around,” Stolski said. “I had never been an AD before so it was pretty ambitious. It took a while to write what it means. It was initially about how we were going to behave and what we were going to believe in, but I never really wrote it down until when there were proposing a bunch of cuts to the district. We were going to go down to 12 sports or something like that.”
That’s when Warrior Way Inc. was created to raise money to save Warrior athletics and help student-athletes pay for activities fees, which were raised to around $350 per sport.
That’s when Stolski was prompted to write down what the Warrior Way actually meant.
The first principle of the Warrior Way is to create and maintain an environment that people want to be a part of.
It’s a philosophy that is grounded in respect. Respect for self, for one another, for the game, for the opponent and officials and for community and family.
Stolski wrote, “It’s a style in how we conduct ourselves. First class, play hard and fair, be prepared; win with humility, lose with grace, do both with dignity.”
The Warrior Way wasn’t just meant for the athletes, but for coaches as well.
“It’s a method of teaching,” Stolski wrote. “Professional in every way; well prepared, strong fundamentally. Hard-working, passionate and compassionate.”
It created a standard of excellence or as Stoski put it, “accepting only our best effort from players, coaches and team.”
It also helped create an ideal or a goal.
“Sometimes, not nearly often enough, we get a chance to be a part of something greater than ourselves,” Stolski wrote, “and it starts with a belief that we can.
“But Mostly, it is a spirit. A spirit that drives us. The Warrior Way is a phrase that defines us. It is a phrase that makes our athletic experience meaningful, memorable, magical. It lives in Warriors from other times and in other places. In Warriors of yesterday, today and will tomorrow.”
Stolski continued: “It is more than wins and loses; it is the quiet of the locker room. The roar of the crowd, it is the legacy we live and the legacy we leave. For all who have played, who play, and who will play, it is precious and worth keeping.”
Stolski said the reason for a single slogan or phrase was to rally his entire activities department around a common cause. It wasn’t just a football slogan, but a Brainerd athletics slogan.
The former AD was and continues to be an advocate for multi-sport athletes. He believes in the benefits of being diverse in one’s athletic endeavors.
“This was something I was pretty adamant about,” Stolski said. “I would lead that and encourage that. You can’t demand that, obviously, but it was just a way to bind the coaches and then the athletes.”
Back in 1975, Stolski admitted he hadn't seen athletic programs having a slogan or common theme. He recalled his old school district Park Center had a phrase “Park Center Pride.” Stolski felt every school touted pride. He wanted more. He wanted unique. He wanted what became the Warrior Way.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Warrior All-Sports Banquet
When: 6 p.m. Monday, May 1
Where: Brainerd High School Gymnasium
What: Celebrating all varsity athletes who lettered during the fall and winter sports seasons and last spring
Who: Public is welcome