Coach Stingley is beginning his 27th year coaching Cross Country at GFHS, the last 23 as head coach of the Bison. For the past 33 years, Stingley has also been an Assistant Track Coach in charge of distance runners.
A 1977 graduate of Great Falls High. Attended the University of Montana, and graduated from the University of Great Falls with a Bachelor of Science degree in History/Political Science, Social Studies, and Elementary Education, teaching minors in Physical Education, and Special Education. Masters' degree in Athletic Administration from Ohio University.
Teaching Assignment-Freshman Swimming, P.E., and Advanced Swimming Teacher since 2003. Additional duties include acting as the GFHS Pool Manager on a year round basis. Prior to teaching worked in team and commercial sales at Universal Athletics for 20 years.
Believe it or not Sting was not to bad a runner in his younger days P.R's include 400-51.8, 800-2:00, 1600-4:20,
3200-9:28, 5k(road)-15:10, 5 Mile(road) 25:07, 10k(road) 31:05, 10 Mile-51:50, Half Marathon-1:04:30, Marathon 2:30:07, Half Iron Man Triathlon-Still trying to find that one, but it was pretty fast.
"I kind of came to cross country literally by accident. I was pretty good sized and was playing football as a sophomore with hopes of making the varsity squad as a junior. Well one day in about the third week of school while playing flag football in PE class I forgot I wasn't wearing pads, dove for a ball and destroyed my right collar bone. After about a week in a sling, my PE teacher, who was also our head track coach, told me I might as well go out for cross country because I could still run and it would keep me in shape for track in the spring. His encouragement, and the fact that the cross country manager was a real cutie that I kind of had the hots for, had me hooked. While I wasn't the greatest runner in high school I loved both track and cross country, running was really my thing. Practice, my great coaches, and my teammates were what brought me to school everyday. I loved running and continued training after high school and improved for years to come. Cross Country and Track expanded my horizons as a high school student athlete, and really helped define the direction the rest of my life would follow. I continued to race through college and competed in probably thousands of road races and triathlons as an adult. I was lucky enough to be able to coach both my daughter and my son at GFHS, they both made me very proud as coach and a parent. I am very protective of my athletes, I try to take good care of them and make them feel proud of their accomplishments. Some of my happiest moments, and best friends have been associated with my running and coaching career. I hope to pass that great sense of accomplishment, self esteem, and joy of running along to all my athletes. Nothing pleases me more than when I bump into one of my old athletes and they still remember all the fun they had on the team, and even better, they tell me they are still running for fun and fitness."
Assistant Coach Doug Darko
2018 will be Mr. Darko's first year as as assistant coach at Great Falls High, but that certainly doesn't mean he is a rookie. We were lucky enough to be able to lure him out of retirement to help us out this year. Darko was previously the Head Cross Country coach at CMR for 12 years and Assistant Track Coach in charge of the distance runners.
Since Coach Darko has been too busy to write his own bio the head coach is going to put in his own two bits until Coach Darko gets around to it. Great Falls has produced many great runners over the years and Darko would definitely be near the top of the list. While competing for Great Falls Central Darko played football as well as ran cross country. While I don't have an exact count, and I can't find the stone tablets the records were carved on, I believe Darko placed 2nd in the state cross country and in track he won both the mile and 2 mile twice. He went on to the University of Montana to compete in both track and cross country. In Cross country he qualified for the NCAA Championships 4 times. His PR's include 800-1:52, mile-4:05, 5,000-13:55, 10,000-29:33, and a 2.21 marathon none of those marks are to shabby. In college though his main event was the steeplechase where he qualified for the NCAA Championships three times. In 1975 he finished in the top ten in the Senior AAU Championships, which was precursor to today's USATF National Championships. His steeplechase PR is 8:48. See if you can pick him out in the picture below of the only U of M men's track and field team to ever win a Big Sky Championship. Just a hint he doesn't have an afro in this picture.
Anyway in his post collegiate career after a little competitive break he began road racing and became one of the regions most dominant runners at very competitive time of racing in the region. Darko was very versatile in distances from 5km to the marathon for many years.
Darko's teaching and coaching career at CMR was cut short after he "died on the table," in Seattle from a vascular bleed at the base of his brain in 2015. Luckily God thought he wasn't quite done with Darko on Earth yet, so he allowed us to keep Doug and his great sense of humor with us for a while longer. Doug has been one of my best friends for many years, and he genuinely is the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back. I owe him and his lovely wife Vickie more favors than I could ever possibly repay. I am truly glad he was kind enough to volunteer to help me and our athletes out this year. Our athletes, if they are smart, will be able to learn a great deal from his vast store of running knowledge.
Assistant Coach Vickie LeBrun
2020 will be Mrs. LeBrun's third year with us coaching at GFHS. Coach LeBrun's story is an inspirational one that speaks to the will to survive and overcome adversity.
Vickie LeBrun joined the Air Force in 1991 and spent most of a 26 year career as a Paralegal. In May 2016, she sustained a blow to the head from a 300 pound business copier that fell from a lift gate stake bed cargo truck that caused several injuries to the face, neck, back and left shoulder. The most significant was the laceration to the brain and resulting Traumatic Brain Injury. For nine months following the accident, Vickie re-learned how to walk and talk and cognitive development. It was during this time she was enrolled in the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program.
The AF Wounded Warrior (AFW2) Program provides concentrated non-medical care and support for combat wounded, ill and injured Airmen (and their families) as they recover and transition back to duty or into life. One of the programs AFW2 offers is Adaptive Sports – this provides opportunities for recovering service members to develop independence, confidence and fitness through sports – empowering wounded warriors to focus on their abilities and teaching positive coping techniques.
As an avid runner before the accident, she was excited about the AFW2 Adaptive Sports program. This is where she relearned the art of running - focusing on form, balance and concentration of effort. Within a year her new found confidence had her competing in track, swimming, archery wheel chair basketball and sitting volleyball at the Air Force Trials in February 2018. Making the Air Force team, she competed at Warrior Games in May 2018 and medaled in Track with two silvers in the 400 and 800 meter run. Hoping to compete at Warrior Games 2019, she reached out to Coach Stingley to train with the Bison Cross Country team only to find herself helping as Assistant Coach.
“When life knocks you down – and it will at some point – you have to make the choice to get back up and keep running, pedaling, swimming – you have to keep doing whatever moves you forward. Competition is great, but showcasing resiliency in light of your struggles is what makes you stronger.”