Football coach shifting professional gears
CARBONDALE ” After nine years as head coach of the Roaring Fork High School football team, Tory Jensen has decided to go into a different direction.
But the decision will leave a huge void.
“It was a very tough decision. I will miss it, especially the kids,” Jensen said.
In the last nine years, the Rams have made the playoffs seven times. It was Jensen, 38, who helped build the Rams into a Class 2A powerhouse.
For Jensen, stepping away from football was tough but he can’t look back now. He’s got business decisions to make.
Jensen is opening a pair of Moe’s Southwest Grill franchises in the area. One will be opening soon in Edwards and the second is tentatively slated for a late January opening at Glenwood Meadows.
“It’s different but there are some similarities,” Jensen said about trading in football for business. “You have to make sure everything gets done, and everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing.”
He joked that working with high school players might be easier.
Jensen, who remained on the Rams’ staff as an assistant coach this season, was still feeling the disappointment of the Rams season-ending 20-12 loss in the second round of the playoffs.
“As a coach you always want to bring home the gold ball, but it didn’t happen. Sometimes it’s the quest that makes it special, and this team was really special.”
Jensen, who stepped down just before the first game, said the most difficult thing about this season was being away from the team. He would make it to one, sometimes two practices a week, and go to the games.
“I really missed being there. Seeing the kids on a daily basis is what coaching is all about. Coaching is about the kids.”
With the Rams, Jensen quickly instilled a team first and individual second concept.
“It’s all about the team. It’s not about individuals,” Jensen said. That’s what we always preached ” it’s not about one player; it’s all about the team.”
It’s a concept that Jensen watched former Rifle head coach Darrel Gorham develop as he built the Bears’ program that culminated in a Class 3A state title last year.
When Jensen arrived at Roaring Fork, the state of football I the valley wasn’t good. Basalt and Glenwood Springs had just dropped their varsity programs and the Rams were looking to rediscover its proud gridiron tradition.
In many ways, football in the valley experienced a resurrection. The varsity programs returned and the Rams’ football heritage returned, thanks in part to Jensen’s passion for the game. He scheduled football camps and was sure to schedule games with the two Garfield County teams.
“We wanted to play Rifle because they have such a good program,” Jensen said about using the cross-county Bears as a measuring stick.
It didn’t take long for the Rams to measure up. This year, the Rams beat the defending Class 3A Bears, 54-34.
By stepping away from football, Jensen is also stepping back from the community in some ways.
“I remember growing up in North Carolina and our football coach was really part of the fabric of the community, and that’s what I wanted to be here,” said Jensen, who was part of three state championship teams as a high school player.
“Community is so important,,” Jensen said. “Carbondale is really a special town. It’s a place where people still look out for one another, support one another. There’s a real friendly, small-town feel to Carbondale.”
It’s a town that embraced him as much as he embraced it, he added.
Since arriving in Carbondale in 1997, Jensen said he knew it was home.
“There’s such a sense of community here, and you really see it when the Rams are in the playoffs,” he said. “People come out and support the team, and that’s great to see.”
Even though the Rams didn’t win a state title while he was coaching, Jensen said he knows that the trophy isn’t them main goal. He said that any coach should make a positive impact on the players and help shape their lives.
“Using football to help prepare these players for life is so important. I hope that I’ve been able to do that,” he said. “I’m going to miss teaching kids and using football to maybe make them better people.”
As for the 2005 team, he said it gave him a special opportunity.
“I’ve watched this crew play since peewees, and I feel pretty close to these kids and the parents. They’re great kids.”
Jensen and his wife of 10 years Christie have two children, John 4, and Sarah, 6.
Now that he’s immersed in the business field, Jensen still wonders if coaching football will be part of his future.
“Will I coach again? That’s a good question. I really want to. I love it so much.”
He admits that he will coach again, but it might be on a smaller scale.
“I will definitely coach again, even if it’s coaching John (his son) in peewees.
Spoken like a a true coach, who is moving in a new direction.
Name: Tory Jensen
Occupation: Business owner
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Years in Garfield County: 9
Favorite place in Garfield County: Hot Springs Pool
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Imagine Glenwood and The City of Glenwood Springs is slated to host a virtual town hall at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11.