Coach’s coach: Q&A with Moffat County Athletic Director Bobby Howard
With experience in many elements of the wide world of sports, the newest member of the Moffat County High School athletic department looks to support coaches and students as they strive for greatness in the coming months.
Bobby Howard began Aug. 2 as the athletics and activities director for MCHS, a role in which he will oversee sports teams and other extracurricular activities for the Bulldogs in addition to working in an assistant principal function.
Howard replaces Rich Houghton, who resigned the job in mid-July for a position in Washington nearer to family.
Howard is originally from Alabama, graduating high school in Decatur and getting a bachelor’s degree from Athens State University and a master’s from University of West Alabama. He relocated to Craig from New Mexico with his fiancée and also has two grown children: a daughter pursuing a doctorate in neuropsychology currently at his alma mater — who may possibly transfer to University of Colorado — and a son who is an actor in California.
Craig Press: What drew you to Moffat County?
Howard: I knew that I really liked Colorado, it’s a beautiful state, and the school districts were a little bit more on top of their game than New Mexico, quite a bit better, actually. I just wanted to find the right fit, and when I looked at Moffat County, I researched even more and decided this would be a great place for us to come and be a part of the community.
We were in Dulce, New Mexico, which is on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation. Some very, very good students, great kids. I was teaching there, but I was an AD before that at another district called Mesa Vista, and I was more like an administrator, period. Wherever they needed me for the day, that’s where I was. If you’re familiar with Taos, it’s in north central New Mexico. Some people here may have heard of Carlsbad, I was a softball coach there, and I also coached at New Mexico Highlands University. We played against Mesa in Grand Junction and Metro State in our conference.
Have you coached and/or played a variety of sports?
I’ve coached primarily basketball, volleyball and softball, mostly girls for about 14 years. I’ve also coached baseball, football and cross country. Usually I was a three-sport coach because I like to be busy. One team that sticks out was when I coached in East Lawrence, Alabama. Those girls weren’t physically talented, but we overachieved, because whatever I taught, they soaked it in, and they were probably the most coachable kids I ever had, some of the best relationships I ever had was there. I’ve had some great kids over the course of my career, and I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent with them.
As far as a player, I played a little bit of professional baseball for the Rookie League Orioles in the California League, I think the team has folded since. I played a little semi-pro until I was 42, and then I moved to New Mexico and they didn’t have it anywhere. All those teams, I had great experiences with them.
What do you expect to bring to the AD position here?
I think just the knowledge of the sports. Having coached so many of them, I think I have a good understanding of them and know what it’s like to be a coach. I’m a coach’s coach, and I want to help them get the tools they need to succeed. I think the hardest part for me is the difference between Colorado and New Mexico’s rules. I knew New Mexico’s rules inside and out, but there’ll be some differences. I started here late, and they basically told me to get a truck and get up here. The last AD really left a lot of good instruction for me, he’s communicating with me, and it should be a good transition.
We want to start a new app here and bring more technology into it, and we really want a lot of community involvement and engagement in our athletics. We want to fill those stands up as much as possible. As people start to see what we have here, there are some programs I’d like to bring here so that outside students can look at us and say, “That’s a place I want to go.”
With students who have competed for nearby schools in sports like softball and hockey, are those teams you’d like to see officially part of MCHS?
I couldn’t believe there was no hockey (as a CHSAA-sanctioned school team). I mean, hockey’s huge here, and even where I come from in Alabama, we had a team there. I couldn’t understand why there’s no softball, and I thought there was too much conflict and not enough interest, but if there’s interest we want to build it. We want to make it happen, and as long as that’s something we can make happen, we want to do that. I’ve started two softball programs in high school, and I understand you’ve gotta take your lumps, although we didn’t take them too bad. We were pretty successful, and the program I started in New Mexico, if we had been eligible to play at state, we would have because we beat three state-qualifying teams. I think if there’s a passion for it, the kids get the passion too, they love it and they work hard. It’s not just softball, not just hockey, I’d like to see what all we can add to make this the top program on the Western Slope.
I also taught theater and coached that, too, so that’s why I love the activities side of this job. In New Mexico, we had theater competitions and I don’t know if they have anything like that in Colorado. It’d be great to start something like that because they’re a lot of fun, the kids have a great time. In Dulce, we did a film festival over Spring Break, me and my son, we taught kids how to make movies. I saw something about a student film festival in Denver, and my son will probably be coming around here from time to time, and he loves working with kids.
What do you hope to see this school year from the many first-year coaches and returning coaches?
I’m excited for all the fall sports, and I know we’ve got a few new coaches and they’re motivated and pumped up. I look forward to working with all of them. A lot of times, that youth and new personnel, it fires up the team, brings in a whole new energy. That’s what we want — energy and passion in everything we do here.
I want to do whatever I can to help the program succeed. I’m not here to get glory for myself. I just want our program to be the greatest it can be. If I can go out and help somebody, I’m gonna help. I want these kids to have the best experience they can have.
After four years of hard work, members of Moffat County High School’s Class of 2019 are striving to keep going for greatness in the world, and the Bulldogs who took top honors during graduation aren’t just sitting on their laurels.