Craig 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 firstname.lastname@example.org