Iona Stookey finalist for National Coach of the Year

Huntley Project Head Coach Iona Stookey talks to her team after winning the third place game at State in preparation for the State Championship game Saturday. (Jonathan McNiven Photo)

Originally published in the Yellowstone County News print edition.

HELENA — The Montana Coaches Association has announced that

11 Montana coaches and one athletic director have been selected as “Finalists” for

National High School Athletic Coaches Association (NHSACA) National Coach of the Year.

Huntley Project High School volleyball coach Iona Stookey is among the finalists.

Paul Barta, Columbus boys basketball coach, is also on the list, as is Julie O’Dell, who coaches Special Sports – Cheer/Spirit in Hardin.

Eight finalists are selected from across the nation in each sport category.

Finalists will be honored during The National Coach of the Year Awards Banquet, which will take place at the NHSACA National Convention in East Peoria, Illinois, on June 21. The highlight of the banquet will be the naming of the NHSACA National Coach of the Year in 19 recognized sports categories. The nominees and finalists are evaluated by experts in the field of coaching, using a sport-specific rubric to assign points in each category. NHSACA was formed by coaches, for coaches, and has been recognizing National Coaches of the Year since 1978.

Friends, family and fellow coaches are encouraged to attend the convention and award ceremony. More information at