The beginning of July usually just signals that another month of summer has passed before the next school year begins.
But for the Moffat County School District and for the community affected by it, July 1 saw the arrival of the co-curricular athletic director, a new position created by the district that it hopes will usher in a new era for athletics and activities in Craig.
Rick Schmitz began his work in the new position Monday, diving into a new town and new job with less than a month and a half until practices begin for high school fall sports. Despite the tight time crunch and adjustments to life in a new town, Schmitz said he is excited to get working.
“I always respected the teams and coaches I’ve gone against from Craig, and I always got the impression Moffat County was supportive of its athletics and activities,” Schmitz said. “This is a unique position. I’ve never seen one like it in this state. So, the challenge of this job was very enticing to me.”
The co-curricular athletic director will focus solely on athletics and activities for elementary, middle and high schools, whereas most athletic directors are vice principals of a school and have other responsibilities related to the schools. Schmitz’s arrival is the beginning of a new era for the school district’s athletics.
“It’s a new look, the co-curricular athletic director,” said Brent Curtice, assistant superintendent for the Moffat County School District. “It’s exciting for all of us to have someone that will partner at a deeper level with the community, the schools and the leaders of those institutions. That only makes perfect sense to us.”
For Schmitz, the most important aspect of his job is to become part of the community. He wants to meet as many people as possible in getting ready for the school athletic season.
“I want to start building the relationships and learn the culture and climate of this district,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of new, but that’s part of why I wanted the position. I really am honored to be here.”
But there also are some pressing business issues staring the new athletic director and other district officials as the athletic year nears. At the high school, coaches are needed for volleyball and boys soccer, both of which begin practice Aug. 12.
Schmitz hopes to have those positions filled as soon as possible but likes having coaches that are about more than just winning, he said.
“To me, all of coaches know the X’s and O’s,” he said. “I’m looking for coaches who are also going to be helping kids become better people. I understand people want competitive teams, but I also understand that when kids are done, there’s a lot for them to take down the road.”
It’s his experience in prior jobs on the Western Slope that made him an attractive option for athletic director, Curtice said.
“We believe because of Rick’s experience and wealth of knowledge, we look forward to a partnership that will benefit the students, athletes and the community,” he said.
Moffat County had a variety of teams and individuals qualify and compete at state events last school year. Schmitz wants to be part of that success and have a positive impact in all aspects of athletics.
“I hope in the long term, when people think of athletics or activities, it’s a positive thing,” he said. “I hope parents want their kids to be involved and kids want to be a part of it.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com