Project coaches Santy, Stookey honored – again

by Robert Nolte

WORDEN — Last year he got a ring. This year Jay Santy gets a plaque for being named Class B high school football coach of the year for the second year in a row.

He also won athletic director of the year and gets a plaque for that honor.

Also in the winner’s circle — for the fifth time — is head volleyball coach Iona Stookey. She gets a plaque for being class B volleyball coach of the year. Her team won the state championship, beating three teams in the tournament held in Bozeman last November.

“It feels good to be recognized by your peers,” said Santy, who is also a biology teacher at Huntley Project High. “But it also shows what outstanding players and coaches we have.”

And what about a “three-peat?” Santy said his team would work toward that goal and anticipates six returning seniors and 13 or 14 juniors on the 2010-11 squad.

Stookey, head volleyball coach for 20 years in Worden, has received the coaching recognition in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2009.

“We have some great kids coming up through the program,” said Stookey, who added she appreciated her latest honor from the state organization. “We have a lot of talent coming back. The future looks bright.” 

Stookey, who also coached volleyball four years at Shepherd while she was in college at Eastern Montana College, lives in Huntley with her husband, Mike. The couple has four children. At Huntley Project, in addition to coaching she teaches health enhancement.

Jay Santy was one of five high school coaches to be honored by the Montana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. The awards were announced at the Montana High School Association’s annual meeting in Helena last week.

Santy’s team, the Red Devils, won the class B state tournament during the 2007-08 season and after defeating Fairfield that year, Santy was given a ring for being named coach of the year. Last November, the Devils again beat Fairfield, leading to Santy being named coach of the year for the 2008-09 season. He also was named athletic director of the year. 

Santy’s coaching career began in 1984 at Sunburst, a small town in northwestern Montana.

He won conference coach of the year there, then moved on to Northern Montana College in Havre, where he coached basketball.

Santy hitched up with Huntley Project High in 1988, where he taught and coached several sports. Eight years ago, he was named head coach of the Red Devils. His first coach of the year title was Santy’s first statewide honor.

Santy and his wife, Pam, live in Worden. They have three children.

Last year when he was interviewed by the YCN after winning coach of the year, Santy said his team works hard and added that he believed good football players were returning for the ‘08-09 season.

“I think we’ll have a very good year,” he predicted. Less than a year later, the Devils won the Class B title for the second year in a row.