Nokes to receive MCC President’s Award
McCook native Garrett Nokes will be posthumously honored with a President's Award at McCook Community College's commencement ceremony May 7.
Nokes was a coach for the Mid-Plains Community College rodeo team from the fall of 2014 until his passing in February of this year. He made a tremendous impact on both the team and the college during that time.
"Garrett was so proud to be the rodeo coach for MPCC," said Laura Nokes, Garrett's wife. "He loved working in the arena and sharing his experience and his passion for the sport of rodeo. He was a fierce competitor, and he loved to compete, and he wanted his team to be just as competitive as he was both inside and outside of the arena. He was so proud of these student athletes and all they accomplished. I think the only other honor he had that meant more to him than being a coach, was being a dad and a husband."
Garrett was instrumental in putting the college on the map at both the regional and national levels. The last season he coached for MPCC, the fall of 2020, Mid-Plains had the number one men's team in the region and was sitting third on the national leaderboard. The college continues to lead the region heading into nationals.
Under Garrett's watch, MPCC entered the past five College National Finals Rodeos either leading or ranking second in the regional men's team standings. MPCC's women's teams finished in the top four regionally the past four years.
Altogether, Garrett helped a total of 26 MPCC Rodeo Team members qualify for the CNFR. Of those, seven led the region in their respective events.
Just a year ago, Garrett's dedication to rodeo and support of its athletes earned him the title of Coach of the Year for the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association's Great Plains Region.
The recognition was a tremendous honor - voted on by coaches and captains from every college rodeo team in the region at the end of the season.
"Garrett was one-of-a-kind," said MPCC President Ryan Purdy. "The successes of the MPCC Rodeo Team over the past several years have been because of Garrett's drive and determination to compete at a high level. He recruited great student-athletes who could balance the demands of being a good student and excellent competitors. He also recruited lots of volunteers to provide support assistance for practice, competitions and other special events. It was hard to tell Garrett, 'No.' His smile was ornery, his laugh was contagious and his heart was genuine. The MPCC Rodeo Team would not be what it is without Garrett Nokes."
A lifetime of "the greatest sport on dirt"
Garrett did more than just advise the MPCC team – he led by example. He remained an active competitor throughout his life and accomplished more during his rodeo career than most could ever dream of.
Among his crowning achievements, Garrett finished fourth in the world at the 2005 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. More than a decade later, in 2017, he won the Ariat World Series of Team Roping in Las Vegas, Nev. – beating out more than 500 other teams for a spot in the final round.
His love for college rodeo ran deep – based partly on the success he had at that level. Garrett competed on Oklahoma Panhandle State University's first two national championship teams. He placed third in the nation in the tie-down roping in 1997 and was the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Central Plains Regional Champion Steer Wrestler and All-Around Cowboy in '98.
Locally, Garrett won the Nebraska State Rodeo Association's "Rookie of the Year" title in 1996 and was the all-around champion in 2011 and 2014. He became the organization's tie-down champion in 2011, '13 and '14.
Garrett also took home the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association's titles of all-around champion in 1996, 2010, '12 and '14, steer wrestling champion in '96 and tie-down roping champion in 2011, '13 and '14.
A member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association since 1996, Garrett went on to win all-around titles at numerous rodeos in that circuit as well. Those included the National Western Stock Show in Denver in 2005 and Cheyenne Frontier Days in '06.
He was a three-time Prairie Circuit steer wrestling and all-around champion and was also tie-down roping champion in 2007.
Garrett earned the all-around title and was co-champion in the team roping, alongside Matt Wilken, at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte in 2012. He had previously won the tie-down roping at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in 1997 and steer wrestling there in '98.
Altogether, Garrett had more than $740,000 in PRCA career earnings.
His family will receive the President's Award on his behalf.
The commencement ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Peter and Dolores Graff Events Center in McCook. The ceremony is open to the public. Guests will be required to wear masks and adhere to current social distancing protocols.
A livestream will also be available at: https://boxcast.tv/view/mccook-community-college-commencement-286546.