Former MCHS athletic director enjoying new position in Fort Morgan
January 3, 2012
“Most of my administrative duties (at MCHS) were over students. Here, basically I supervise, evaluate and observe teachers in the classroom, but I still get to work with all the students and teachers almost every day.”
— Richard Wildenhaus, former Moffat County High School athletic director and current Fort Morgan High School athletic director/assistant principal, on his new duties at Fort Morgan
Over the summer, Richard Wildenhaus moved his family almost 300 miles from Craig to Fort Morgan.
Wildenhaus, Moffat County High School's former athletic director, accepted the athletic director/assistant principal position in May at Fort Morgan High School.
The school is bigger and his home is now on the other side of the state, but Wildenhaus said similarities outweigh differences between Craig and Fort Morgan.
"(Fort Morgan) isn't much bigger with about 15,000 people and the community is very supportive, just as Craig was," Wildenhaus said Tuesday. "The high school has about 850 students and 16 sports, but we compete in 4A and the schools aren't much different."
At MCHS, Wildenhaus also served as dean of students and helped in disciplinary actions on top of his athletic director responsibilities.
However, after earning his second master's degree in educational leadership and an administrative license, Wildenhaus wanted to add assistant principal duties to his position at MCHS, something Moffat County School District administrators were unwilling to do at the time.
Wildenhaus had no comment on the hiring of Jeff Simon as MCHS athletic director/assistant principal, essentially the same position Wildenhaus sought before exiting to Fort Morgan.
The primary difference between his duties at MCHS and Fort Morgan, Wildenhaus said, is he now has a supervisory role over teachers.
"Most of my administrative duties (at MCHS) were over students," he said. "Here, basically I supervise, evaluate and observe teachers in the classroom, but I still get to work with all the students and teachers almost every day."
Wildenhaus said an advantage to Fort Morgan is travel isn't as extensive as it was at MCHS.
Sterling High School is one of the schools Fort Morgan competes against that requires the greatest travel, and it's only about 45 minutes away.
Traveling might lessen even more in the future because of the first major decision Wildenhaus had to make when he started his position at the beginning of August.
Fort Morgan is currently part of the Tri-Valley League, but will join a new conference next season — the Colorado 7 League.
"I was approached by a school that was interested in creating this new league, and my first response was we were happy with our league," he said. "But, after talking with coaches about the offer, we looked at the pros and cons and sat down with all the coaches and by the end there was a strong consensus this was the best thing for our programs."
Wildenhaus said the driving factor behind the decision was that it was deemed best for the school's student-athletes.
"The Tri-Valley League is very competitive, but in this new league, we will be able to compete with schools more our size," he said. "If our basketball teams can win even four more games and feel victory more often, then it is a positive.
"It is pretty exciting to develop a league from scratch."
Besides growing professionally, Wildenhaus said the move has also been great for his wife, Colleen, and their two children.
"The elementary schools here are fantastic and our kids love the school and have made an easy transition," he said. "My wife is teaching kindergarten and we have been able to find a nice place to live with great neighbors and a great community."
Fort Morgan doesn't have a swimming program like MCHS, but the school offers sports the Bulldogs don't, such as tennis and gymnastics.
But, Wildenhaus again said the two schools have more in common than different, even down to dealing with inclement weather.
Wildenhaus has one season under his belt and is in the midst of another. He said he enjoys taking on new challenges his job presents.
"Our athletes compete hard and we have a good group of coaches who have bought into the system," he said. "I have taken my extra responsibilities and rolled with them and I think been fairly successful.
"It's been so far, so good."