Moving Forward with Coach Becker


photo used with permission from jason becker

School sports are anything but normal this year. Many sacrifices have been made to accommodate COVID-19 and ensure student and staff safety – including the loss of a traditional football season for the Stoughton Vikings.

In addition to pandemic-based changes, the Stoughton Vikings football team recently had a change in leadership. This past June, with learning strategist and former assistant coach, Jason Becker, accepted the position of head coach following former head coach, Dan Prahl’s, move to Florida.

“Coach Prahl and I are good friends, and we communicated a lot, and honestly, when he announced to me that he was going to move to Florida, I was like, what does this mean for the program?” Becker says. “I had to sit down and decide, ‘Okay, do I apply to be head coach, am I wanting to do that again?’ And it didn’t take me very long to decide that that’s what I wanted to do.”

Becker’s coaching career began in La Crescent, Minnesota, in 2004, where he coached JV football. From there, he went on to coach in Nekoosa, Wisconsin, as both assistant and head coach, before coming to Stoughton.

“Having been a head coach prior to coming here, and going back into an assistant role, and then becoming a head coach again really gave me a newfound respect for the assistant coaching position,” says Becker. “I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the coaching staff we put together. I really like the roles we have people in […] and feel like it’s creating a good balance. It’s a good group of individuals that understand, at the end of the day, we’re putting everything together for the team.”

Having years of prior coaching experience both in and outside of Stoughton, Becker was glad to accept the role of Stoughton Viking’s head football coach.

“It was kind of an affirmation of the things I’ve done. Not only since I’ve been an assistant coach and a teacher here, but in the past. […] It’s a tough pill to swallow sometimes, when you go from being the leader of everything, and now you have to kind of follow somebody else’s lead. So I was really excited and honored to feel like, not only have I done enough in the past to warrant this, but I’ve done enough here, and they feel like I’m the right person at the right time to lead the program,” Becker says.

“It definitely put me in a good place in a kind of a crazy situation,” Becker says. “It was an exciting moment, and maybe even a sense of relief, to be able to move forward and know that I’m in charge of the program now.”

Due to the continued uncertainty surrounding when, or if, students will return to in-person school, there is also no guarantee that athletes will be able to return to traditional practices and games.

“Some of [the team has] been playing football for as many as eight years in the program. And early on, when the fall [season] got taken away from us a little bit, there was definitely a lot of emotion, a lot of hard feelings, like [the team] had something taken away,” Becker says, “So I want to do everything we can as a program to give them as many of those opportunities back. I want to make sure that we get that for them and do everything we can to just move everybody forward.”

Becoming head coach amidst a pandemic is a unique and unprecedented position to be in, but Becker has high hopes for the future of the Stoughton Vikings football program.

“Our students are awesome. I’m really hopeful- it might be wishful thinking to hope that they can attend games in the spring,” Becker says, “but I’m hopeful that maybe even by the end of this spring–that last home game, it’s a Saturday– maybe by then if nothing else, we can get them in the stands and be able to celebrate a good season with them”.