Nokes named Rodeo Coach of the Year
Mid-Plains Community College Rodeo Team coach Garrett Nokes has been named Coach of the Year for the Great Plains Region.
The coaches and captains from every team in the region vote for a Coach of the Year at the end of every season. It’s the first time Nokes has received the recognition.
“It’s a big honor,” Nokes said. “One of the things I love about my job is that coaching in this region is pretty unique. Our environment is the most positive environment I’ve ever been around in college rodeo. All of the coaches want their kids to win, but there’s not a coach in the region that won’t help a kid from another school if asked.”
He said that type of cooperation has led to a phenomenal atmosphere where student-athletes can develop their skills and advance to the next level.
“We just want the competition to be the toughest it can be, and that’s something that’s felt by every coach in the region,” Nokes said.
It’s important to him that his own team develops a strong work ethic and that members take away as much from outside the arena as inside.
“I want them to learn that if they want it, they have to work for it. Then, the sky’s the limit. That’s true for life in general,” Nokes said. “I will help them get to wherever they want to go, but I also want them to get an education to fall back on. In this business, it’s never ‘if a rodeo career is over’ – it’s when.”
His convictions stem from a lifetime spent in the rodeo industry – experiencing its ups and downs – in addition to his own experience as a college rodeo athlete at Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Okla. He was on the university’s first two national championship teams in 1997 and ’98.
“College rodeo prepared me for both professional rodeo and life after because I was surrounded by good mentors,” Nokes said. “My coach during my first two years of college [Dr. R. Lynn ‘Doc’ Gardner] had never been in a rodeo arena but ended up being one of the most influential guys in my life. I’m thankful for him every day.”
Gardner died when Nokes was a junior – about the time Nokes’ professional career was taking off.
“That next year, I was contemplating leaving school without a degree,” Nokes said. “What prompted me to stick around and finish was a friend and our team secretary [Lynette Frueh Harbin]. She told me that if I left without a degree, Doc would roll over in his grave. That really hit home, and I decided to stay. I just hope that someday I can have that kind of impact on someone else.”
He already has if the Coach of the Year award is any indication. One of the themes that remains consistent year-to-year among MPCC Rodeo Team members is that they appreciate Nokes for caring about them. They also respect him for not just talking the talk, but also living it.
A member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association since 1996, Nokes currently has $740,032 in PRCA career earnings. That includes winnings from the 2005 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo where he competed in steer wrestling and placed fourth in the world standings.
Later on, in 2017, Nokes won the Ariat World Series of Team Roping in Las Vegas, beating out more than 500 other teams for a spot in the final round.
Nokes has also been highly involved in “the greatest sport on dirt” at the local level. He won the Nebraska State Rodeo Association’s “Rookie of the Year” title in 1996 and was the all-around champion in 2011 and 2014. He was the organization’s tie-down champion in 2011, ’13 and ’14.
A state to the south, Nokes was named the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association’s all-around champion in 1996, 2010, ’12 and ’14, steer wrestling champion in ’96 and tie-down roping champion in 2011, ’13 and ’14.
Additionally, Nokes is a three-time Prairie Circuit steer wrestling and all-around champion and was the tie-down roping champion in 2007.
He has won numerous all-around titles at major rodeos such as the National Western Stock Show in Denver in 2005 and Cheyenne Frontier Days in 2006.
He took home the all-around title and was co-champion in the team roping, alongside Matt Wilken, at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte in 2012. He also won the calf roping at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in 1997 and steer wrestling in ’98.
Nokes currently lives on a farm south of McCook with his wife, Laura, and sons, Trevor and Parker. Together they raise crops, cattle and performance horses. Garrett is also a crop insurance agent for First Crop Insurance, LLC.