NFL honours Grande Prairie football coach

The National Football League named Grande Prairie high-school football coach, Rick Gilson, Youth Coach of the Year.

The National Football League named Grande Prairie high school football coach, Rick Gilson, Youth Coach of the Year.

Grande Prairie Warriors coach, Rick Gilson, is the NFL's Canadian Youth Coach of the Year. (CBC)

"Not only did Rick Gilson lead and inspire his team during an incredibly difficult time, but he also used football to help bring a grieving community together," said Dan Quinn, Managing Director, NFL Canada. "We’re very proud to recognize his efforts."

Gilson helped his players deal with the death of four teammates in a car crash on Oct. 22 that also seriously injured a fifth player.

"To have the ability to pick up the pieces and carry on is something that not everyone can handle," community member Darren Robertson wrote in a note to the selection committee.

"Not only did Coach Gilson lead his team back onto the field, he led them all the way to a league championship."

"He is the rock in a tragic event, and continues to be a role model to young men, in a world that is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate."

Gilson, who is also the principal at Grande Prairie Composite High School, was selected from a shortlist of eight coaches from across Canada.

The honour is decided by a panel of journalists, Football Canada and NFL officials.

The NFL will award Grande Prairie Composite High School with $5,000 in football equipment.