Blair leaves CRHS soccer posts |

Blair leaves CRHS soccer posts

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

After a highly successful run as head coach of Coal Ridge High School’s boys and girls soccer teams, Brian Blair is stepping away.

The five-time 3A Western Slope League Coach of the Year resigned from his posts as coach of both teams and from his gig as an English teacher at the school. His letter of resignation was accepted by the Garfield School District Re-2 board at its July 31 meeting.

Blair, who began as the boys coach midway through the 2006 season and as girls coach in 2007, did not immediately return a voicemail seeking comment.

Mike Mikalakis, who served as an assistant coach under Blair with the boys team last fall and with the girls team in the spring, will take over as the boys head coach. Official practices begin on Monday.

“I had a really good time last year working with the kids and learning,” said Mikalakis, who is also Coal Ridge’s head wrestling coach and an English teacher at the school. “I think this is a good opportunity and a positive move to step into the head coaching position for the athletes.”

Soccer wasn’t Mikalakis’ sport growing up. He wrestled and played football, but has built up an affinity for soccer in recent years.

“They needed someone to come in and do the assistant position and I fell in love with the sport,” Mikalakis said. “I really enjoyed it. I played in the Emily Johnson tournament at the end of the year and have really embraced what soccer means to the community. Hopefully, I’ll do a successful job as coach.”

He certainly learned a thing or two from Blair.

“I did learn a lot from Brian,” Mikalakis said. “I thought we worked really well together. He taught me the ins and outs of how he runs his program. Basically, my goal for the upcoming season is to continue that, to run the same style and hopefully have the same success.”

The new Coal Ridge boys soccer frontman will have some help from former Rifle High School soccer standout Graham Riddile, who will continue in his role as one of the program’s assistant coaches.

“He has a lot of soccer background and knowledge,” Mikalakis said. “He was a volunteer assistant last year and he did an excellent job. I’m looking forward to working with him. He just has a good background and will help continue pushing the program to what it’s been in the past.”

Last fall, the Titans went 11-4-1 and made the 3A state playoffs. In 2010, they went 16-2 and advanced all the way to the state quarterfinals.

With a number of young players returning from last year’s squad, the tools are in place for future success.

“We lost some real quality players from last year’s senior class, but I think we have a lot of talent,” Mikalakis said. “The kids are definitely putting in the time and effort to make this year a successful one.”

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