The athletic offseason has been hectic, yet tranquil at the same time for the Cherry Creek School District.
Longtime district athletic director Larry Bull has had to deal with making changes while working around various campus power outages and the like, but a veteran group of administrators and coaches across six high schools should make for a smooth ride as the 2019-20 school year approaches.
“It’s been hectic getting things done at all the schools because summer is the only time we have to work on the buildings,” Bull said. “There’s a lot of positive energy and excitement with the newness going into this year.”
Much of the newness comes from facility changes, which aren’t as major as they were last year when Overland built a softball field on campus for the first time in the school’s history.
Overland is now home to a striking, newly-refurbished floor in its West Gym, which includes new logos and the areas between the 3-point line and key shaded in the school’s distinctive kelly green color.
Next up for Overland is the installation of a new multi-use turf field, which is slated for the fall. Smoky Hill is also scheduled to get a turf field at the same time, which Bull estimates could be completed by October without any major weather-related delays. Some lower level games will move to the Stutler Bowl on the Cherry Creek campus to accommodate the loss of the use of a field for both schools.
Grandview is currently getting its gym floor refurbished, yet another project at a school that went without air conditioning for the majority of the summer as its system was replaced.
As much as the changes will be noticeable cosmetically, consistency in athletic leadership is also notable going into the new year.
Cherokee Trail (Steve Carpenter), Cherry Creek (Jason Wilkins), Grandview (Wesly Smock) and Smoky Hill (John Thompson) all return to give the district continuity from an athletic director standpoint, giving Bull peace of mind.
The anomaly comes at Eaglecrest, where Vince Orlando returns to the athletic director post he’s had since 2013, but he will have company this time.
Veteran teacher and volleyball coach Tanya Bond has been added to the mix as co-athletic director in a system designed to better handle the demands of an enrollment that has soared to more than 3,100 students, second-most in Colorado behind Cherry Creek according to Principal Gwen Hansen-Vigil.
“We have a model that has worked really well in activities, so we wanted to adopt it to athletics,” Hansen-Vigil said. “The pairing of Tanya and Vince allows them to have each other and not feel isolated. As a school, collaboration is such a cornerstone of our work that it made sense to give them a teammate, somebody they could strategize with.”
Vigil-Hansen announced the change to the staff and asked those in the building if they would want to take on that role.
That interest came from Bond, who arrived at Eaglecrest in 2000 and has guided the girls volleyball team to prominence, including a Class 5A state championship and perfect season in 2006.
Besides her time on the sideline, Bond has worked with the Colorado High School Activities Association on many occasions and recently was one of the main proponents of a proposal that resulted in a well-received change in the format of the state volleyball tournament.
“Tanya knows the league, she knows the state from the administrative standpoint and also what kind of support a coach needs,” Hansen-Vigil said.
Bond and Orlando both will have classroom duties — on alternating days — and careful deliberation was put into splitting up the sports that fall under their oversight.
Overland had the lone turnover in the AD role, as Ryan Knorr departed for the same job at Durango High School after three years. He has been replaced by Karl Buck, who arrives after spending 13 years at Mountain Range to become an AD for the first time.
Buck is part of a very new administration at the school and is still getting to know the coaching staff as well as oversee facility improvements.
Among other notable personnel changes, Overland and Eaglecrest both have new head football coaches in DaVaughn Thornton Sr. and Shawn Marsh, respectively. Thornton spent two years as an assistant with the Trailblazers before taking over for Steve Sewell, while Marsh comes over from Grand Junction Central.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports