Moffat County athletics director candidates speak to community


— Community members from Craig met the finalists for the new Moffat County School District co-curricular athletics director Thursday evening at Craig Middle School.

The three candidates conducted a short interview session in front of those in attendance, then met with school officials as well as parents and a few students to end a full day in Craig.

The School Board has created a new position with the co-curricular AD. The employee will handle athletics and activities for kindergarten through 12th grade, and that will be the position’s sole focus. That was one of the attributes that attracted the finalists.

“This position is a unique one, so the opportunity really excited me,” said Rick Schmitz, a counselor and evaluator at Coal Ridge High School with nine years of AD experience at Coal Ridge and Rifle. “To be on the ground floor of something is exciting to me.”

Rick Jensen, recently an AD at Eagle Valley who also has nine years of experience as an AD, felt similarly when he heard about the Craig opening.

“When looking at this position, the way it is structured is very exciting,” Jensen said. “I think it has the potential to be outstanding.”

There also is a home-grown finalist for the job. Ryan Duran, 33, is a member of the Moffat County Class of 1998 and is the operating manager at Eastside Liquor and a basketball official. He acknowledged his relative lack of experience but said his love for the community and passion for sports are why he wants to be involved.

“When I came back (to Craig from Denver), I realized how passionate I was about about Moffat County athletics,” he said. “Everybody has a story from their days, I still talk with people about certain games, or the crowd going crazy. I want that to continue on, and for these kids to have their stories. I may not have the experience, but I do have a passion for the community, athletics and activities.”

Schmitz said his first step if offered the job would be to get into the community and learn as much as he could.

“I want to get to know you folks, all the people I’m working with,” he said. “That way, when things happen down the road, we can have positive conversations about it.”

Part of Jensen’s attraction to the job was he saw a lot of his hometown community in Iowa when he first visited Craig.

“Craig as a community, while it’s not identical, is in a similar location in the state" to my hometown, he said. “I had a great situation in high school, where we just had a ton of buy-in from the community in the high school athletics. It was like a magnet where everybody rallies around the kids. I saw that here, too.”

Brent Curtice, Moffat County School District assistant superintendent, said district officials plan to extend a job offer to their preferred candidate early next week. He is ready to move forward with the new AD in place.

“This is the start of a much bigger picture for this community,” Curtice said. “The way we’ve seen people coming together for the importance of this position is really exciting.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or


Cole White 3 years, 8 months ago

So let me get this straight......we have three "finalists" for the Athletic Director position and they are two AD's from schools with horrible athletic programs and a liquor store manager ..... and this is the best we can get?

Once again our school board is proving to the community how inept they can be. Come on SB you have a chance to create something great here, so pull your heads out and put just a little bit of effort into this process and get to work finding a qualified person to fill the job. I call BS on the fact that these candidates are the best we could find.


Cole White 3 years, 8 months ago

Thanks also Brent Curtice for showing us that a good portion of our district officials also need replacing due to extreme lack in judgement. A position as important as this and you actually think one of your "finalists" is the person that will help elevate Moffat County athletics. Any one of these candidates will likely do a better job than the previous person but we don't want just better....we want a leader who will help guide our athletic programs to greatness. You don't hire people with mediocre track records at failing schools and bartenders if you truly want to get your programs to the next level. Your choice of candidates shows laziness on the part of school officials Brent! Do your job and go find good candidates! Your decision here has the potential here to either set the stage for years to come or set us back years when you realize later that these candidates don't have what it takes to help lead our athletic departments.


calvinhobbs 3 years, 8 months ago

Rick Schmitz I believe was in Rifle when they were winning state championships in Football, they took second this year. I also believe he was a very successful basketball coach. Rifle had girls basketball teams consistently in the State Tourney. The guy from Eagle did not seem to last long there. You can only get good candidates if they apply. This does not sound like a normal AD position. I do hope they get someone better than the last one!


Cole White 3 years, 8 months ago

I think the easiest way to answer that question is to look at MoCo sports. I believe he forgot to do the "Director" part of his job.....and probably the "Athletic" part too.


calvinhobbs 3 years, 7 months ago

MoCo Sports Boys Basketball- Sweet 16-first time in how long? Girls Basketball Sweet 16- I believe 13 years straight they have made the state playoffs Girls Soccer- playoffs for the first time ever Girls Track-Outstanding showing at state again Cross Country-outstanding year again Once again athletes that are graduating are going on to participate at the college level. Football- by far the smallest school in 3A, 580 kids in the high school playing schools with enrollments of plus 1,000. Bring them down a level in a year and they will be tough. Do not get me wrong the AD did drop the ball on numerous things, one was petitioning CHSAA to bring football down when the other sports dropped a class,. But athletics are doing very well at MCHS.


Cole White 3 years, 7 months ago

calvinhobbs- I guess we have a different definition of what "doing well" means. The size of the school in relation to other 3As shouldn't even be brought up but around here it's used as a crutch.

And maybe a sweet sixteen means success to you but for those schools who expect a state championship every year it is a setback. Merely making it to state or to participate in a playoff is not how championships are won or how championship teams are born. We've settled for "good enough" for too long. We have great athletes who languish at the hands of "parent coaches" who play politics and destroy programs. We have AD's and a principal who are ripe with apathy and ineffectual leadership. We have a school board who provides little direction and holds almost no one accountable. Now is the time to clean house and right the ship. Excuses and mediocrity can't be tolerated any more.


calvinhobbs 3 years, 7 months ago

Highway It sounds like you have some answers. I agree there is some apathy. Step up and ask to be a coach. I know last year Coach Ray was in need of a JV coach, there was one applicant, and he had to ask her. Look at the MCSD web site. They need 8th grade football, 2 volleyball openings and a soccer opening. Plus they will always take dollar contract coaches. Personally I thought all my kids, boy and girls had great coaches at the high school. It is not about a state championship, 70ish teams per class and only one winner. Private schools that recruit, open borders to play at the school you choose, year round programs, weekend camps, batting cages, rec centers, club teams, booster clubs that support all programs equally with camps, equipment and more money for more coaches. Moffat County is Moffat County, one of the lowest funded schools in the state, kids out selling T-shirts to pay for camp and equipment and bus fuel. These kids and coaches are dedicated, and that is what athletics is, it is about dedication, team work, hard work and being an active kid.I am proud of what my kids did at MCHS,they had success in the sports they did, 2 are college athletes getting their education paid for. The other learned what hard work was and is doing well in the military. Come out to Grand old West Days Monday and support the teams selling raffle tickets, pancakes, turkey legs and everything else they do. I will be there.


George Robertson 3 years, 7 months ago

Agreed Calvin, it's not all about winning, it's Learning how to play!


hello81625 3 years, 7 months ago

Yes - Rick Schmitz was at Rifle and I can speak directly to the fact that he was an exceptional and exciting Coach, teacher and mentor. The record of his current school is difficult to hold him to - remember this is still a new school that took a split from Rifle - the first 2 years they didn't have upperclassmen and parent can still choose to have their kids go to Rifle where the programs are established. As always I would like to know what the nay sayers are doing to make a change.


Jason Phillips 3 years, 7 months ago

I would like to see MCHS athletics succeed as much as the next person, but some of you need to be more realistic. People aren't beating down doors to come be the next AD and live in Craig, CO.


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