For Little Snake River Valley football coach Mike Bates, the triumph of the postseason has carried over into the holidays.
This week, the Wyoming Coaches Association named Bates, who led the LSRV Rattlers in Baggs, Wyo., to its first football championship in November, as the 1A six-man coach of the year.
Bates was selected by a group of his coaching peers and was the only coach from Carbon County, Wyo., to be so honored.
Wyoming Coaches Association President Heath Hayes said Bates stood out for having compiled an undefeated record with a program that is still relatively young.
“Granted, they have a great group of kids — that, in any sport, helps — but he went in there, taught them the game of football and the kids responded,” Hayes said.
Bates, too, acknowledged his job was made easier by the prowess of his players.
“Between the smartness of them and their ability to think in the classroom, when you transfer that to the football field, these kids were just so easy to teach,” Bates said.
“I didn’t feel like this was a team that’s only played one year.”
The Rattlers defeated the Hanna Elk Mountain Medicine Bow Miners, 67-12, at War Memorial Stadium at the University of Wyoming for the state championship.
By nature of playing in the state championship game, both Bates and HEM coach Tom Waring’s names were entered on this year’s ballot, but members of the association may nominate any coach in the state.
His selection from such a talented body, Bates said, was a humbling honor.
“When the coaches are as good as they are, and as successful as these coaches have been in the past, and then they think that I deserve that award, that’s incredible,” he said.
“It’s definitely an honor to represent 1A six-man football as coach of the year, but that’s the part that’s overwhelming,” Bates said.
The accolade was one more layer of icing atop LSRV’s season.
“It’s one of those things that I sit down and think about almost nightly, what a season it was, and this post honor on top of that, sometimes I pinch myself,” Bates said.
“It’s just a credit to our coaching staff (and) this group of athletes.”
Recipients of this year’s awards will be honored July 22, when coaches from around Wyoming gather in Casper for an annual summer clinic.
As a first-time recipient, Bates will receive a coach of the year commemorative ring.