CARROLLTON, Mo.- The year was 1977 – a year in which the Oakland Raiders and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were dominating football headlines, and Happy Days was the most popular show on television. It’s safe to say 1977 was also the year many happy days were to come for the rural town of Carrollton.
Stan Kee, a product of South Holt High School north of St. Joseph, and alumnus of Northwest Missouri State University, spent his first years in coaching for his alma mater from 1972 to 1974 and Gallatin High school the next two seasons.
“My high school football coaches were the second-most influential people in my life, Coach Scott Marriot and Coach Rich Fairchild. And when football gets into your blood you stay with it,” Coach Kee said when I asked about the influences in his coaching life.
The rugged, hard-nosed, disciplined football mind in Coach Kee had Carrollton written all over it. A former band director at Gallatin High School that had moved to Carrollton informed Coach Kee on the vacant head coaching positing and urged Kee to apply. Hesitant at first, Coach Kee applied and the rest was history.
Carrollton High School went on to become Missouri River Valley Conference (MRVC) champions four times (1978, 1987, 1991, 1997), four district championships (1987, 1991, 1997, 1998), reached the state playoffs six times (1980, 1981, 1987, 1991, 1997, 1998), and the state semifinals twice in 1987 and 1997.
“We developed a philosophy that football was important, and our community really supported and backed us. It was just a really good situation here.”
Coach Kee implemented the traditional I-formation along with Power-I and played around with the triple-option in both formations during his time at Carrollton. These days you see fewer and fewer teams with the same offensive style as certain formations such as the Spread have really evolved the game of football.
Sitting down with Coach Kee leaves me question less about the success and the integrity that he brought to the town of Carrollton. In my brief time with him, it’s hard not to understand the magnitude of his impact on student-athletes year after year. Growing up in a coaching household myself, you really come to idolize the gifted people in our society that are meant to lead and coach young men and women.
“Our football team here at Carrollton liked to hang our hat on faith, family, friends and football. If you keep those things in proper perspective and surround it by trust, committment and love then you got a chance to put a program together and that’s all we did.”
Football didn’t stop with Coach Kee, his family along with his wife Debbie were also a big part of his commitment to the sport. His son Corey enjoyed four years under his father at running back and his daughter Heidi was a football cheerleader throughout her times in high school. Football was life to the Kee family and understandably so. I personally enjoyed the story he told me about a plaque that hung up in their house and read, “We interrupt this marriage to bring you football season”.
Not only is Coach Kee apart of the Missouri Football Coaches Hall of Fame but was recently inducted to Missouri Sports Hall of Fame this past Wednesday, October 28, 2015, in Springfield, Mo. On the outside looking in I can only revere the kind of career Stan Kee put together and I have the utmost respect for his contributions to the game of football in the state of Missouri. But to anyone that knows Coach Kee, his humility stands out the most.
When I asked Coach Kee about his feeling on the induction he said, ” Anytime you get an award offered to you, its a very humbling experience. You never feel worthy of that, but you realize it means two things. One that your old, and number two that you’ve been surrounded by a lot of great people throughout the course of a career. I had the fortune here at Carrollton to be surrounded by a tremendous amount of great players, coaches, parents, administrators and a community as a whole.”
Coach Kee still resides in Carrollton to this day and has never thought about leaving, he finished up 22 seasons at Carrollton with a daunting record of 153-67-1. As the sports world likes to put it, Coach Stan Kee has officially reached sports immortality. He instilled work-ethic and integrity early on in his career and it will resignate with the Trojan program for years to come.