GLADSTONE - Cody Kangas has football in his blood and the bloodlines to back it up as well. A star as a player and a proven motivator as a coach, Kangas is now bringing his talents for offense to Gladstone High School. On Thursday morning, he was approved by the Gladstone School Board to become the new varsity head coach.
"We're very excited to name Cody Kangas as the new varsity head football coach," said Athletic Director Matt Houle Thursday afternoon. "We know that there will be challenges ahead, but I think with the support of the school, parents and community, he'll be very successful here."
Kangas played his high school football at Manistique under his father, Todd Kangas. He then played at Northern Michigan University as a quarterback and outside linebacker.
As a coach, Kangas has mentored quarterbacks and served as varsity assistant for a year before serving as the jayvee football coach at Manistique last season. He feels his prior coaching experience will help in his transition but said the increase in numbers will be the biggest change.
"I had 22 guys last year on jayvee," he said. "Coming to a Class B team like Gladstone, I'm hoping we'll get 40 here this year. That's going to be the biggest difference for me, the numbers. But numbers can only make you better. The more you have, the more competition you're going to get."
Kangas is a senior at NMU but he quelled concerns over distance and post-graduation plans.
"I have a year left in school and I will student teach, hopefully here, next fall. I love football and I coached the past two years at Manistique commuting from Marquette every day. It's nothing new to me and I don't mind traveling an hour to Gladstone to coach football. I love the sport so much, I'm willing to do that," he said. "If a job does arise after I graduate, that's great, but I'm a U.P. guy through and through and I would love to stay in the U.P. After I graduate, I'll look here and figure out the situation. If nothing looks promising, I have no problem looking around the U.P. I'm definitely going to stay in the U.P."
The decision to come to Gladstone wasn't an automatic one for Kangas. There was a tempting opportunity for him at his alma mater but after some thought, he decided Gladstone was where he wanted to be.
"It was tough," Kangas said. "Obviously my dad is the head coach at Manistique. I would have been the jayvee coach. My middle brother is doing teaching at Bay College and would have been an assistant on the staff and my youngest brother will be the senior quarterback this year. So all four of us would have been on the field at the same time, which is very special, but I just couldn't pass up the great opportunity that Gladstone presented."
Houle said he appreciated that Kangas took the time to consider the offer.
"Cody had a coaching job ready for him already and he said he wanted to think about it," Houle said. "I like that. It gave him time to think about the big picture and talk to his dad about what it is to be a head coach. He came back and gave us a solid yes."
Kangas has no connection with the current Braves on the team but has watched tape and likes what he sees.
"Gladstone has a great opportunity to be one of the great schools in the Great Northern Conference. The talent is there, the strength and size. Everything is there. Now we just have to put it together."
And coming from a tough conference himself, Kangas feels ready for the grind of the notoriously tough GNC.
"Coming from the Mid Peninsula Conference, it's the same way there. We have powerhouses in Ishpeming, Negaunee, Iron Mountain, Norway. The M-PC is tough, no one is easy," Kangas said. "The same goes for the GNC. I looked at the schedule for this year and seven out of the nine teams we play made the playoffs last season, so it's a tough schedule. You just have to get better each and every day and hopefully that translates into wins."
The team is still looking for varsity assistants and Houle has posted the open positions. Applicants can turn in resumes until July 5.