Moffat County basketball prepping for summer workouts under new coach |

Moffat County basketball prepping for summer workouts under new coach

Left: Former Moffat County High School basketball coach Eric Hamilton cuts down a net in Grand Junction following a 2015 district championship win. Hamilton resigned in April as head coach, with Steve Maneotis, right, named the new head of the hoops program
File Photos

With leadership changes in recent weeks, Moffat County High School boys basketball has said farewell to one seasoned coach but will also welcome back a familiar face.

Bulldog basketball’s Eric Hamilton resigned from the hoops program in April following eight seasons as head coach.

“I just decided it was time to take a step back for now,” he said. “I really love coaching and I hope it’s not the end of my career, but it was time to take that step, see what opportunities come in the future.”

Hamilton said the past season hit hard from a spectator’s standpoint because he regularly missed the final quarter of girls games, with youngest daughter Halle a starter in her freshman year.

Hamilton, who suited up for the squad as a player in the 1980s, attained 92-87 record across his tenure leading the team, which included coaching son Matt in his first four years overseeing the Dogs.

The program picked up two district championships, a 3A Western Slope League title and a regional title, making it as far as the state quarterfinals in 2014. Hamilton was also named Coach of the Year for the conference in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.

“Over the years, some of those district games, they were super-intense. There were three years where we were just at the top of the league,” he said. It’s so competitive, full of some of the most outstanding coaches in the state. Not only for coaching ability but overall people. Quality men coaching basketball.”

Hamilton added he hopes he has made a lasting impression on young men in terms of the character traits he sees as essential to the game.

“I worked really hard at trying to teach boys the importance of commitment, sportsmanship, hard work and loyalty,” he said.

Hamilton’s departure led MCHS Athletic Director Bobby Howard to quickly find his replacement, and Steve Maneotis was recently announced as the new head of the program.

“He brings a wealth of experience and is a strong candidate to lead the team in the right direction,” Howard said.

Maneotis, also an MCHS alumnus, said he has spent about 18 years with Moffat County School District in various coaching capacities, including a run from 2007 to 2011 as head of the boys varsity hoops team, just before Hamilton was hired.

In addition to many years as an assistant coach at MCHS before becoming head coach the first time, he has also overseen basketball teams at the middle school level and club teams with both Moffat and Routt County players.

“I’ve always been around. I’ve never left. It’s a passion I’ve always had, working with kids,” he said. “I’m passionate about the game and love giving back to the schools and our community. Thought this was a good opportunity to step back into that position.”

Open gym sessions and workouts are underway during the first week in June for athletes to get in gear, and Maneotis plans to host a camp for junior high hoopsters from 2 to 5 p.m. June 10 to 13.

“We’ll be rolling up our sleeves, getting to work, and I’m trying to establish the vision I have for the program going forward and where we want to go,” he said.

Maneotis said he plans to emphasize the phrase “student-athlete” to players and hammer home the need for them to succeed in the classroom as much as on the court.

“We’ve already begun that process in challenging our guys to be good leaders in the classroom and the school and setting the right example. And, of course, that carries over to the floor,” he said. “We’re going to create a workman’s attitude where we get after it every night. We want to put our best effort forward, and the reward is on game night and we go to work and know we’ve given our best effort and let the chips fall where they may.”

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