Head Rodeo Coach
Phone: (308) 350-0514
Garrett Nokes is the head coach for the Mid-Plains Community College Rodeo Team.
After graduating from McCook High School in 1994, Nokes attended Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Okla. where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics in 1998.
In college, Nokes was on the university’s first two national championship teams in 1997 and ’98. 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 1998.
A member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association since 1996, Nokes currently has $740,032 in PRCA career earnings. That includes winnings from the 2005 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo where he competed in steer wrestling and placed fourth in the world standings.
Later on, in 2017, Nokes won the Ariat World Series of Team Roping in Las Vegas, beating out more than 500 other teams for a spot in the final round.
Nokes has also been highly involved in “the greatest sport on dirt” at the local level. He 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 was the organization’s tie-down champion in 2011, ’13 and ’14.
A state to the south, Nokes was named the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association’s all-around champion in 1996, 2010, ’12 and ’14, steer wrestling champion in ’96 and tie-down roping champion in 2011, ’13 and ’14.
Additionally, Nokes is a three-time Prairie Circuit steer wrestling and all-around champion and was the tie-down roping champion in 2007.
He has won numerous all-around titles at major rodeos such as the National Western Stock Show in Denver in 2005 and Cheyenne Frontier Days in 2006.
He took home 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 also won the tie-down roping at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in 1997 and steer wrestling in ’98.
Nokes currently lives on a farm south of McCook with his wife, Laura, and sons, Trevor and Parker. Together they raise crops, cattle and performance horses. Garrett is also a crop insurance agent for First Crop Insurance, LLC.
Aukai Kaai, a former bull rider for the team, has been transitioning into the role for the past several months. He will officially take over the assistant title July 1 and will work primarily with the team's rough stock competitors.
"It feels awesome to be able to give back to the program that opened so many doors for me," Kaai said. "After Mid-Plains, I transferred to a university. Altogether, I did five years of college and got all my school paid for because of rodeo. I'm looking forward to helping others succeed through rodeo as well."
Up to this point, the team has been led by Garrett Nokes, timed event coach, and Dustin Elliott, rough stock coach. Kaai will take over much of Elliott's responsibilities as Elliott steps back into more of a volunteer role.
Kaai is originally from Waimānalo, Hawaii. The four-time National High School Finals Rodeo qualifier and three-time state champion was recruited by Elliott in 2014. Kaai competed for MPCC from 2014-16 in both the bull riding and team roping events.
While at Mid-Plains, he finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Great Plains Region bull riding standings.
"The quality of coaching and the scholarships I was offered to rodeo were the deciding factors in me coming to MPCC as a student," Kaai said. "Once I got here, I learned a lot about the business side of rodeo and how to be presentable."
Kaai went on to rodeo for Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, Colo., where he earned a bachelor's degree in Agricultural Business. As of last year, he also had a pro card. He hopes to continue competing professionally, but for now, that has taken a backseat to buying his own bucking bulls.
"I have a couple right now I've been letting the MPCC rodeo team use," Kaai said. "I've basically just been helping the guys learn fundamentals up to this point."
He is, however, already starting to think about recruits. Kaai has his sights set on a few rough stock riders that he either knows from the past or found through social media.
"I'm looking forward to seeing how far the team can go in terms of winning national titles, but I'm especially looking forward to watching MPCC athletes excel as individuals and further the sport of rodeo," Kaai said. "I hope they give it everything they've got and have fun doing it. That's all I can ask for. I appreciate Dustin and Garrett for allowing me to step up to this role. I have a big set of shoes to fill."