New Roaring Fork High School hoops coaches continue alumni tradition
Pair of former RF Rams take over boys, girls basketball programs
Post Independent correspondent
The basketball tradition at Carbondale’s Roaring Fork High School is not lost for a minute on new boys head coach Tony Gross.
Having graduated from the school in 1983 and played basketball for coach Richard Southall, Gross is another in a line of RFHS alumni who will carry the head coaching torch in guiding the Rams through the 2019-2020 season.
“I think about the tradition, but I don’t really feel any added pressure,” said Gross from his office in the school following a recent holiday practice. “I just want to keep the Roaring Fork program strong. My son Clay is helping out this season coaching the junior varsity, so that makes things extra special for me.”
Gross is no stranger to the program at his alma mater, having served as the JV coach for six seasons under the longtime Ram mentor Larry Williams — also a Roaring Fork alum.
Gross is quick to credit Williams with helping to bring him along slowly as he learned to look at the game from a coaching perspective.
“I learned so much from him, especially how to relate to the kids,” Gross said.
Although he would have been perfectly content to remain in an assistant coaching capacity at Roaring Fork, Gross admits that moving over a spot on the bench to the head coach’s seat gives new meaning to the upcoming basketball campaign.
“I knew that I wanted to do this someday, so I was excited when coach (Williams) asked me to be his assistant years ago. I wanted to be a head coach, but I would have been perfectly happy to keep on being the junior varsity coach,” said Gross.
Gross will get an initiation by fire with the early season schedule that his team will face right out of the gates.
Roaring Fork’s first four games will all be against teams that are ranked in the preseason 3A top 10 in the state. It all starts this weekend in Carbondale as the Rams will host the annual Brenda Patch Memorial Tournament.
Roaring Fork will face Denver Lutheran on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The Lights are the top-ranked team in the state in class 3A.
It’s evident that Gross bleeds Ram blue and gold. If his enthusiasm for the new job catches on with his players, look for Roaring Fork to once again reside near the top of the 3A Western Slope League.
“This is a young team. We have three seniors, but only one of them got much varsity experience,” explained Gross. “We’re going to play hard, though, and we’re going to play defense. I’m looking forward to getting things started.”
Quintero takes over Roaring Fork girls program
Much like Gross, new Roaring Fork girls coach Juan Quintero is no stranger to Roaring Fork High School or the school’s storied basketball program.
Quintero played basketball for the Rams and graduated in 2002. He was the girls’ junior varsity coach last season, assisting head coach and Ram alumna Jade Bath, who has stepped aside to put more time into her position as Roaring Fork athletic director.
The promotion to the head coaching ranks was actually a bit of a surprise to Quintero, who was gearing up for another run as the Rams’ assistant.
“This was unexpected. I was just planning on helping Jade again, but she decided she wanted to take some time away from coaching and focus on her athletic director duties,” Quintero said.
Make no mistake, though, Quintero is excited and geared up for the challenge of guiding the Roaring Fork ladies, and he is looking forward to put his own stamp on the program which has hovered around the .500 mark the last few seasons.
“Jade really helped to build this program up. It was way down for a few years there,” Quintero said. “Our team will be kind of small, but this is an athletic group. We’re going to try and get out in transition and push the pace of the game.”
Along with his duties as the junior varsity coach last year, Quintero is familiar with many of the girls on his team this season, having coached club soccer for 10 years in Carbondale and worked with many in the current sophomore class when they played basketball at Carbondale Middle School.
The Roaring Fork girls have state championship banners from 1984, 1989, 1990, and 1991 hanging proudly in the gymnasium. Quintero’s head coaching initiation, and the first step to getting the Rams back to the glory days of three decades ago will start on Friday night at the Brenda Patch Tournament when Roaring Fork will tip off against Rifle at 6 p.m.
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The teams aren’t vying to one up the other in the rankings or looking to get a leg up in the league standings this fall, but that will hardly make the stakes any less meaningful for Basalt and Glenwood Springs high schools when they meet on the football field Friday night.