For 34 years, Craig Mortensen got to run the Moffat County High School basketball program the way he wanted.
Whether coaching the boys or girls team, Mortensen always had the final say for the Bulldogs.
However as an assistant coach for the Adams State College women’s basketball team, Mortensen was in a position to learn as well as teach.
“Every coaching style is different and every coach has a different way of doing things,” Mortensen said. “As an assistant coach, I got to see how a team was ran from someone else’s viewpoint and I learned more about the game of basketball.
“Some things I would use if I were to ever coach again.”
Mortensen joined Coach Kelly Kruger’s staff as an assistant over the summer.
While the Grizzlies failed to make the postseason, finishing the season 7-19 overall, Mortensen said it was a very “positive experience.”
“It wasn’t a good year for the program as far as wins and losses,” he said. “But it was a learning experience. I got to talk with coaches from all over the country and I got to recruit, which was something a lot different than in high school basketball.”
Mortensen said sitting in an office a lot of the time wasn’t always ideal, but his background in high school basketball lent itself well to recruiting.
“As a recruiter I was working a lot on making plans for the future of the program,” he said. “As a coach you are always identifying strengths and weaknesses and abilities of players. I think I was able to see that in some of the girls we recruited.”
Another unique advantage Mortensen had being part of a collegiate program was seeing one of his former Bulldog players competing at the next level as well as players he had coached against in the Western Slope League.
On Jan. 13 and Feb. 18, the Grizzlies played Colorado School of Mines, a squad anchored by 2008 MCHS graduate and former Bulldogs hoops star Angie Charchalis
Adams State won the first game, 64-57, but Charchalis’ 19 points led the Orediggers to a 65-54 win in the second game.
“It was a real joy to watch Angie play and in my opinion, she was the best player in the (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) in the final part of the year,” Mortensen said. “Our game plan was how we could stop Angie, and it makes me feel good having coached her. I always want our team to win, but I wanted Angie to score 30 points.”
Despite the learning experience the 2011-12 season was for Mortensen, he said he probably won’t return to Alamosa next season because he wants to spend more time at home in Craig.
But he said his year was worth it if not just for being able to be around basketball.
“In high school you teach and have other things besides basketball,” Mortensen said. “At Adams State it was five months where basketball was my life.
“I got to be around people and talk basketball the whole day.”
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