2013 Yampa Valley Athlete of the Year
As athletes go, consider Hayden High School senior Mark Doolin a smoldering one.
There are the bombastic athletes, of course, those for whom half the fun is celebrating a touchdown, those for whom sparring with the refs or opposing players is the fuel that drives them.
Not Mark Doolin, however.
Doolin, the 2013 Yampa Valley Male Athlete of the Year, doesn’t scream and shout. His competitive heart doesn’t beat in your face. It smolders, burning on and on.
“He’s a winner,” Hayden basketball coach Mike Luppes said. “He wants to do the things that make him better. He’s just got a winning attitude, and he was willing to put the time and effort into it. Plus, he obviously has a lot of athletic skills and talents.”
Doolin was lucky enough to play on two of the region’s best sports teams during the 2012-13 high school sports season, and among top-tier teammates, he managed to shine, earning all-state honors in football and basketball.
On the football field, he helped the Tigers to the state quarterfinals in Hayden’s first year playing 8-man football. The season ended with a 44-28 loss on the road at Akron, but that didn’t dampen Doolin’s standout season at quarterback.
He rushed for 1,333 yards, averaging more than 9 yards per carry and scoring 29 touchdowns on the ground. He was nearly as effective through the air, throwing for 1,257 yards and 13 touchdowns to two interceptions.
One way or another, he accounted for 70 percent of Hayden’s offensive yards and 55 percent of its touchdowns.
He also finished second on the team with 66 tackles.
Statistically, he stood out nearly as much in basketball, and the team enjoyed nearly as good of a season.
Hayden went 21-3, losing only to Class 4A powerhouse D’Evelyn and Wyoming’s Little Snake River early in the season, and Yuma in the Class 2A Region 5 championship game.
Doolin, playing forward, averaged 14.5 points per game, third on the team that was stacked with senior talent, and grabbed 7.8 rebounds, second on the team.
He was at his best in some of Hayden’s most thrilling wins, no performance bigger for him than a Jan. 19 trip to Paonia in which he sank eight 3-point shots and finished with a career-high 31 points.
“Mark was so smooth, he made things look effortless out there a lot of the time,” Luppes said.
He scored 26 against Meeker to help Hayden win its district after an undefeated run through the league in the regular season, then had 24 in the regionals first-round victory against Sangre de Cristo.
Doolin first got the opportunity at the varsity level his freshman year, when injuries and fouls forced him into Hayden’s lineup at the state basketball tournament.
“I was just out there having fun, and I got fouled,” he said. “I missed the free, but thought, ‘I have to at least score one point.’ I did, and I was pretty psyched about that.’
“It would have been pretty special to start and end my career at state.”
He wasn’t able to bookend his career at state, and he said that’s not something that sat well initially. The loss to Yuma still hung in his mind, thanks in part to a fourth-quarter drought that erased a second-half Hayden lead, but it’s long gone now.
“I try to look at the big picture,” said Doolin, who is eyeing a mechanical engineering track at Colorado School of Mines next year. “We went 20-3, and I can’t complain about anything. I realize I was gifted with the people around me, and I realize there’s a lot more in life. High school sports was really big for me, but there’s much bigger stuff out there than sports.”
He was composed enough on the court through the year to earn the Yampa Valley Officials Association’s sportsmanship award, something his coaches said is as enlightening about Doolin’s nature as any stat line.
“Mark’s pretty cool, calm and collected,” Luppes said. “He played emotionally stable no matter what the circumstance. He plays hard and far, and he goes after it. That’s just the type of person he is.”
It was a passion that smoldered, burning four years at Hayden and helping Doolin stand out among his peers in Northwest Colorado.