Friday Night Lights

Meet Lakota’s Head Football Coaches as they Prepare to Kick Off the 2023 Season

The stadium roars as the players hit the field. The student section screams, parents applaud, the cheerleaders do a routine and the marching band plays the fight song. Sprinting down the field is the football team, ready for another match. Following close behind is the team of coaches who dedicate time and effort to the players in order to make them successful. These coaches impact the teams in many ways. Meet Lakota’s head football coaches, Tom Bolden at Lakota West, and starting this year for Lakota East, Jon Kitna. 

Coach Tom Bolden - Lakota West High School

Coach Bolden was Head Coach at Colerain High School for 12 seasons of Greater Miami Conference (GMC) wins before coming to West in 2019. Since then, he has led the Firebirds to success with three GMC titles and three Regional Finals.

Coach Bolden loves the community of West and the townships around it. He coaches in a straightforward style. 

“I’m in the business of building toughness, so I am straightforward and pretty aggressive. A lot of times I’ll wear my emotions on my sleeve. My coaching style is not something I do, it’s who I am,” says Coach Bolden. “At some point, football is going to be over for these kids. My goal is to build them into productive citizens: great sons, brothers, boyfriends, husbands and fathers. That’s the big picture goal, but we’re going to have fun and win a lot of football games on the way.”

Coach Bolden accredits the team’s success to a great support system from the athletic department, administration, parents, community and most importantly, his wife. Each year, he makes sure the team knows that despite how past seasons have gone, there will always be new challenges. 

“You learn each year. I always tell the kids that the biggest thing to understand is that this is their team,” Coach Bolden says. “Each year is a new challenge.”

Coach Jon Kitna - Lakota East High School

Coach Kitna comes to Lakota East from a career of coaching high school football in Washington, Texas and Arizona after 16 years in the National Football League (NFL) where he played for the Bengals, Seahawks, Lions and Cowboys, and coached a year for Dallas. 

When approached for the job, he saw a great opportunity to not only be closer to family in the area but also to coach where his desires for the team are in alignment with that of the district. Coach Kitna wants to develop REAL leaders and push the Thunderhawk program into relevance on the state and national level. 

“We’re in a business of training leaders and using football as the driver of that. I want to produce young men that will be great members of this community for years and years to come,” Coach Kitna says. “We want to be an excellent football program.”  

Coach Kitna learned a lot from his time in the NFL and applies that knowledge in his coaching style. 

“You have to know how to manage a football game, how to manage a clock, manage players and build relationships,” Coach Kitna says. “My time in the NFL was an incredible opportunity to train me for what I believe is our calling. When I say ‘our,’ I mean my wife and I—it’s our call to coach and teach at the high school level.”

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