When Craig Mortensen started coaching high school basketball in 1976, he had a goal of moving up the ranks as his career progressed.
In 2010, after 34 years of coaching boys and girls basketball, Mortensen retired without leaving the high school court.
Starting in the fall, the former Moffat County High School coach will realize his dream by becoming an assistant coach for the Adams State College girls basketball team under head coach Kelly Kruger.
“(Kruger) needed a coach with experience and someone to bounce ideas off of,” Mortensen said. “My goal had always been to move up the latter to college, and it was one of those things that never happened. It was something I always wanted to do and now I have the opportunity.”
At MCHS, Mortensen coached the boys team for 19 years and the girls team for 15 years, recording 514 wins and 17 league titles.
Mortensen got to know Kruger while his daughter, Laurel, played at Adams State.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach Kruger and he runs a good program,” he said. “I have never been an assistant coach before, so it should be fun and different for me.”
As the Division II program heads into the season, Mortensen said his greatest contribution would be his experience.
“The game of basketball is still the same at all levels,” he said. “The fundamentals never change, just the players who execute them. The skill level improves as you go up to college and the pros, but hopefully my knowledge of the fundamentals will help lead to success.”
Mortensen said he would help from the bench and by reviewing game film, but also in late-game situations.
“It is nice as a head coach to be able to discuss what to do in situations,” he said. “The head coach always has the final call, but I can help in certain time and score situations from my years of coaching.”
Mortensen said he has a partial feel for what to expect from growing up in Alamosa, the home of Adams State, and seeing several of his old players head to Division II programs.
“I watched former players compete in Division II and the teams are like the best kids from several different high schools,” he said. “The girls still need coaching and taught the fundamentals, but I think the hardest thing is going to be bringing stars from different teams and having them fill different roles.
“Not every player is going to be the leading scorer, so we will have to overcome egos. This is not from experience, but just what I have seen.”
Mortensen said he has no plans to leave Moffat County, the place that gave him all his coaching experience.
“We are going to take this position one year at a time,” he said. “They may not want me back or maybe I won’t want to go back, but my wife and I have no plans to leave this area. I will just be down there during the season.”
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