Pioneer’s Stefanie Kerska named a 2020-21 National Coach of the Year by NFHS

By Terry Jacoby/

Pioneer swimming and diving coach Stefanie Kerska was one of 23 high school coaches from across the country to be selected as a 2020-21 National Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association.

The NFHS, which has been recognizing coaches through an awards program since 1982, honors coaches in the top 10 girls sports and top 10 boys sports (by participation numbers), and in two “other” sports – one for boys and one for girls – that are not included in the top 10 listings. Winners of NFHS awards must be active coaches during the year for which they receive their awards. This year’s awards recognize coaches for the 2020-21 school year.

Kerska, who also coaches the Pioneer boys’ swimming and diving team, earned the award in the girls’ sports category. She has been the head coach at Pioneer since 2015 and has led the two programs to three Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) state championships, including back-to-back girls’ titles in 2020 and 2021.

She was named MHSAA Swimming Coach of the Year for both girls and boys in 2021.

Prior to coming to Pioneer, Kerska was an assistant coach at the University of Michigan and was a member of the USA Swimming National Team coaching staff from 2008 to 2016.

The NFHS receives nominations from its member state associations, which often works with the state coaches’ association in its respective state. The state association then contacts the potential state award recipients to complete a coach profile form that requests information regarding the coach’s record, membership in and affiliation with coaching and other professional organizations, involvement with other school and community activities and programs, and coaching philosophy. To be approved as an award recipient and considered for sectional and national coach of the year consideration, this profile form must be completed by the coach or designee and then approved by the executive director (or designee) of the state athletic/activities association.

Recipients of the 2020-21 national awards for boys sports are: John Adair, baseball, Malakoff (Texas) High School; Ron Insinger, basketball, Williamsport (Pennsylvania) Loyalsock Township Senior High School; Jeffrey Howard, cross country, Peninsula (Ohio) Woodridge High School; Rob Zimmerman, 11-player football, DeWitt (Michigan) High School; Holly Lester, golf, Gilbert (Iowa) High School; Samuel “Bunky” Colvin, soccer, Peachtree City (Georgia) McIntosh High School; Christopher Verity, swimming and diving, Endwell (New York) Maine-Endwell High School; Tom O’Brien, tennis, Kansas City (Missouri) Barstow School; Larry Topp, track and field, Minster (Ohio) Local Schools; and Mike Simons, wrestling, Springfield (Oregon) Thurston High School.

The recipients of the 2020-21 NFHS national awards for girls sports are: Jesse Nelson, basketball, Olpe (Kansas) High School; Stanley Johnson, cross country, Moulton (Alabama) Lawrence County High School; Leonard Kull, golf, Washington (Iowa) High School; John Dwyer, lacrosse, Wilmette (Illinois) Loyola Academy; John Hanley, soccer, San Jose (California) Archbishop Mitty High School; Ed McQuade, softball, Phoenix (Arizona) Greenway High School; Stefanie Kerska, swimming and diving, Ann Arbor (Michigan) Pioneer High School; Kristin Liles, tennis, Tulsa (Oklahoma) Cascia Hall Prep School; Dori Whitford, track and field, Spokane (Washington) Mead High School; and Jean LaClair,  volleyball, Bronson (Michigan) High School.

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