Bloomingdale High's Jason Stokes helped the Bulls earn their first playoff berth ever
Each week during the 2008 high school football season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected one local standout as their Coach of the Week. Ten coaches were honored for their impact on student-athletes and their teams' achievements on the football field. And, as is the case at the end of each season, one of those 10 award-winners was chosen as the Buccaneers High School Coach of the Year.
Jason Stokes, varsity head coach at Bloomingdale High, is the Buccaneers' 2008 Coach of the Year.
Before this season, the Bloomingdale Bulls had not finished a season above .500 since 1987. In 2008, the Bulls ended the regular season with a 6-5 record, including a 3-1 mark in district play. Even better, that finish was good enough to give Stokes' squad the first playoff berth in school history. Stokes was honored as the Buccaneers High School Coach of the Week in Week Four after a particularly impressive Bulls win over the visiting Plant City Raiders.
A former Wall Street trader, Stokes moved to Riverview from Queens, New York in 2003. He served as an assistant coach at Riverview High School for five years before being offered the head coaching position at Bloomingdale High last December. As Stokes' first year as a head coach came to a close, he had time to reflect on his transition from Wall Street to the prep gridirons of Florida.
"On Wall Street you're dealing with a whole different type of pressure," Stokes said. "But the things I have learned as a first-year head coach are how much work you actually have to put in just to put a team on the field. I've learned how hard it is just to stay competitive and carry out what you're trying to teach them and just put life lessons into them. Coming down here was definitely a great move, being able to go out there and do something you love and to be able to affect the lives of kids."
On Sunday, December 28, Stokes was invited to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers final regular season home game against the Oakland Raiders. Accompanied by his wife Chamaine and sons Elijah, Lesean and Simeon, Stokes was greeted by General Manager Bruce Allen prior to kickoff. Allen presented Stokes with a commemorative plaque and hat honoring Stokes as the Buccaneers Coach of the Year.
"To be honored as Coach of the Year, we really appreciate that," said Stokes. "It was nice to bring my family down on the field and to get the true Bucs and NFL experience and to see the players, who were very gracious with my family. This was just an overall awesome experience, probably a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, and I just really appreciate it."
As Coach of the Year, Stokes received a total of $2,000 from the NFL for the Bloomingdale High School football program.
"Money goes a long way in high school football, and we'll definitely use it to send the kids to camp," said Stokes. "Every little bit means a lot and the kids really appreciate it. The school and the whole staff really appreciate what the Bucs did."
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are proud to support all local high school football programs that have a positive influence on young athletes and the communities in which they live.