Jake Stoops, a 1992 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate, was one of three people selected as national runners-up in the 10th Annual Most Caring Athlete/Most Caring Coach contest run by USA Weekend. Stoops is the girls basketball coach at Kotzebue High School in Northwest Alaska.
USA Weekend, which is the national Sunday newspaper supplement that can be found in today's Juneau Empire, honored three people as most caring coach and three more as runners-up.
Readers nominated their favorite coaches with a short essay, and a list of finalists was sent to four judges - former Phoenix Mercury coach Cynthia Cooper, former Detroit Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman, St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz and U.S. women's track and field coach Sandy Fowler. The four judges asked some of their own questions before selecting the winners.
The three winners - Doug Garner of Hot Springs, Ark., Crystal Shuler of Columbus, Ohio, and Greg Utley of Augusta, Ga. - each received $1,000 from USA Weekend and were featured in an article printed in the Oct. 4-6 edition of USA Weekend. Football player Peyton Manning of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts and basketball player Reggie Miller of the NBA's Indiana Pacers were honored as the two Most Caring Athletes.
The three coach runners-up - Stoops, John Mitchell Ellis of East Brooklyn, N.Y., and Wayne Spaulding of San Francisco - did not receive prize money, but they are featured in a story on USA Weekend's Web site, http://www.usaweekend.com/02_issues/021006/021006mca.html. The three runners-up are not listed in the printed version of USA Weekend.
Stoops, 28, was nominated by his mother, Sharon McCauley of Douglas, who described Jake's first year as Kotzebue's basketball coach last season. Stoops was hired just a few months before the basketball season started, and led the Huskies to their first region title since 1975. He also instituted a series of fund-raisers that brought in more than $30,000 to send his basketball team to games and camps around the state, including a team camp in Juneau.
Kotzebue went on to finish sixth in the Class 3A girls state basketball tournament last year and the Huskies went home with the tournament's team sportsmanship award. Stoops also serves as the school's volleyball coach.