AURORA | To say Ryan Widemon has hit the ground running in his first stint as a high school athletic director would be an extreme understatement.
The 31-year-old — who took over the AD position at Aurora Central over the summer in place of Rob Harrison, who was promoted at the school — has the coronavirus pandemic to deal with and found out just after he started the job that he would have to be on the hiring of a new football coach.
“This has been my introduction to the big leagues and they are throwing curveballs,” Widemon told the Sentinel. “It’s an unconventional start to a new role, but I’m trying to make the best of it and I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity.”
Widemon feels fortunate to have a resource in the building in Harrison, who initially came to the school as the head boys basketball coach and then took over as athletic director prior to the 2017-18 season.
Harrison (now an assistant principal) oversaw great change in the athletic department of Aurora’s oldest high school, most noticeably in facilities, including the construction of a turf football/soccer field, refurbishment of the gymnasium floor, upgrades to the weight room and the addition of a pregame team room.
“I can’t say enough good things about Rob and what he did with the athletic department,” Widemon said. “If you look at some of our facilities, you could mistake them for a small college. He left it in a much better place than when we took over and gave us a great foundation.”
Widemon has several pressing concerns as he tries to help athletes and coaches run workouts (which Aurora Public Schools finally allowed as of June 15) while adhering to health mandates in place due to COVID-19, but he is also in the unenviable position of needing to hire a head football coach in the middle of the summer because Austin Able had to move out of state at the spur of the moment.
The coronavirus has slowed the process and Widemon has felt fortunate that some longtime coaching staples at the school such as Chris Kelly have stepped up to lead the players in workouts while the hiring process plays out.
And the reality is that the new head football coach may not have a season to coach at all as the resumption of prep sports in the fall is still a fluid situation.
“For every answer right now, there’s three more questions,” Widemon said. “It’s obviously something that is unprecedented and there’s nothing you can really compare it to or have a blueprint to plan for it.”
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports