The NFL announced Wednesday the high school football coaches nominated by the 32 NFL teams for the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award, representing the best at the high school level, and Santa Fe head coach Mark Kanipes is the Houston Texans’ nominee.
These coaches were recognized by their local NFL club for the award — named after Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history — for their character and integrity, leadership, dedication to the community, commitment to player health and safety and on-field success.
Just months after the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School, Kanipes guided the Indians football team to their first playoff appearance since 2009 and only the fourth postseason appearance in program history.
Prior to taking over the Santa Fe program, Kanipes had 27 years of coaching experience and is one of many branches on the Alan Weddell coaching tree, winning three state championships as a member of Weddell’s La Marque coaching staffs.
Most recently before coming to Santa Fe, Kanipes was the assistant head coach at Pearland, where he won a fourth state title, and he had other coaching stints at La Porte, Aldine MacArthur, Plano West and East Central high schools.
“We are honored to celebrate the 32 Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year nominees, as each embodies the integrity, commitment and character of Coach Shula,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement released Wednesday. “High school football coaches not only serve as leaders, but as role models dedicated to shaping the lives of young high school players on and off the field.”
All Don Shula Award nominees are invited to attend the 2019 Pro Bowl in Orlando, Fla. and will be recognized in different ways during the NFL’s week-long celebration of football.
Throughout the week, coaches will receive VIP access and accommodations at various events such as Pro Bowl practices, the Play Football High School Skills Showdown and Play Football Celebrity Flag game; a chance to interact and engage with various members of the football community; and attend the Pro Bowl.
Each coach will also have an opportunity to invite a senior on their roster to participate in the Skills Showdown to represent their high school football community.
Two finalists for the award will each receive $15,000 from the NFL Foundation, $10,000 of which will go to their high school’s football program. They will also attend Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta as special guests of the NFL.
The Don Shula Award winner will be announced during the 2019 Pro Bowl, airing Jan. 27 at 2 p.m. on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, and simulcast on ABC. The winner will also be recognized and walk the red carpet at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Feb. 2, the eve of Super Bowl LIII, at 8 p.m. on CBS.