As the athletic director at Arvada West, Casey Coons oversees about 20 sports programs — coaches, athletes and logistics. At 3 p.m. when may people are leaving the school, Coons' says the athletic …
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As the athletic director at Arvada West, Casey Coons oversees about 20 sports programs — coaches, athletes and logistics. At 3 p.m. when may people are leaving the school, Coons' says the athletic department is just getting started, preparing for a wide range of athletics practices and games on campus.
But it isn't all hard work. Coons said he believes three things are essential to be successful: good people, preparation and having fun.
“If you have good people who are well prepared and enjoying what they do, you'll be successful,” Coons said. “That's what we had at Western (Colorado University), and what we have here at Arvada West. I think people forget about the fun. You've got to enjoy what you're doing or it's not going to work.”
When it comes to success in sports, Coons has experience, going back to the mid 1970s. That history, and his continued role raising the next generation of student athletes in Arvada is what has earned him a spot in the Western Colorado University's Mountaineer Sports Hall of Fame — for the third time.
“Coach Coons created a well-bonded defense and team mentality that focused on hard work, grit, and an unbreakable ideal that we always stood together, as a team," Brent Tollar, former player, said in his nomination letter. "The only thing that mattered was the name on the front of the jersey. The very foundation that I believe Mountaineer Football stands for comes from someone like Casey Coons."
After playing at Lincoln High in Denver, Coons went on to play Western University. As an offensive lineman for the Mountaineers, Coons was an All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Second Team selection and was named the 1980 RMAC Scholar Athlete. He also helped the Mountaineers to three conference titles and two NAIA Playoff appearances under Mountaineer Sports Hall of Fame coach Bill Noxon. The 1976 team he played on was inducted into the Western Colorado University's Mountaineer Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.
Coons graduated from Western in 1980, but stayed in the game of football through coaching.
After coaching stints at Black Hills State University and Western Oregon University, Coons made his way back to Gunnison as an offensive line coach and strength and conditioning coordinator for the Mountaineers in 1988 under Mountaineer Sports Hall of Fame coach Duke Iverson.
In 1991, Coons was promoted to Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator. That season, the Mountaineers went 10-2 and 7-0 in conference to win the first Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title since Coons was playing in 1979. The Mountaineers also made the NAIA Playoff semifinals that season, defeating Carson Newman University 38-21 in Gunnison.
Coons stayed at Western for the following three seasons, winning two more conference titles and making the NCAA Playoffs in both those championship seasons.
From 1991-94, the Mountaineers had a 35-10 record. The 1991 Western football team is one of the most prolific squads in Mountaineer history leading the nation with 46.1 points per game while recording 357.4 passing and 552.1 yards of total offense per game. The team was induced into the hall of fame in 2015.
Coons continued coaching and was head coach at Arvada West High School from 2002-11. The Wildcats racked up 74 wins and four Class 5A state semifinal appearances in that time. They were also 5A Academic State Champions twice.
“I'm really proud of those teams,” Coons said of his state semifinal teams. “I'm proud we have three to five guys off those teams coaching now. That is big to me.”
Coons moved into the athletic director position at A-West this year.
“I love the school,” Coons said. “I love the kids. I love the community. It's similar to what we had at Western. It's a great group of people.”
Coons' 2018 induction into the Western sports hall of fame was his first as an individual.
“I think that this time in particular, it really makes you think about the people that you surrounded yourself with,” Coons said. “That's ultimately what makes a person successful.”
Coons said that more importantly than the games won are the many players he has seen go on to good careers and good colleges.
One of those students is Brian Hatler, former Western football player and Arvada West football coach. Hatler now teaches and coaches high school football in Florida.
“I've learned a lot form him,” Hatler said of Coons. “I'm a better teacher, coach and person for having known him. He's a man of great integrity and I learned a lot about working hard. He's just a good person all the way around.”
Joel Bochow, another former player and fellow coach, praised Coons' way of brining people together.
“He got all us kids to believe in ourselves and do the right thing for a greater good, for a team,” Bochow said.“He always made it about the bigger cause and got people from all walks of life to come together for a common goal.”
One thing significant that Bochow, who is now a special education teacher at Stott Elementary in Arvada, remembers is that Coons “always assisted and helped out with special needs students.”
“I can't think of a team under his watch that didn't have an impacted student as a manager or some type of assistant,” Bochow said.
“It's been a good run,” Coons said. “Everywhere I've been I've met tremendous people and have been very lucky. It's not a one person thing by any stretch. I've been fortunate to have good people around me.”
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