Catching up with Coach Blanc
“The task of a leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”
— Henry Kissinger
The class of 1966 at Glenwood Springs High School produced a basketball crazy young man named Albert Blanc, who would turn a youthful passion for the game into his life’s calling. And my, what a successful journey he has been on.
Blanc was a two year all-state player in 1965 and 1966 for Coach Bob Chavez and his Demons. At one time, Blanc held the single game scoring record at Glenwood, pumping in 44 points from all distances and angles during a game against the Craig Bulldogs his senior season.
Following high school, Blanc was off to Western State College in Gunnison, where he played basketball for the Mountaineers and earned a degree in physical education. It was during this time that Blanc married a cute girl from Rifle named Becky Throm. She’s been the love of his life the last 42 years.
Blanc always knew that he wanted to stay connected to the game of basketball following his graduation from college. When a head varsity coaching position opened up at tiny Vilas, located just a whisker from the Kansas border in southeastern Colorado, Blanc jumped at the chance. 667 wins and 295 losses later, Al Blanc is now the head boys basketball coach at Discovery Canyon High School near Colorado Springs. He ranks fourth on the list of all-time coaching victories in the state of Colorado, and has been nominated for the Colorado Coaches Hall of Fame.
Blanc has made several other coaching stops between the start of his career in Vilas and his current assignment guiding the Discovery Canyon Thunder. His most successful stints were at Pueblo East High School, where Blanc guided the Eagles to 143 victories, which included a trip to the 4A final four, two journeys into the great eight, and five sweet sixteen appearances. Blanc and his boys also posted some eye-popping numbers during his five-year run at Swink High School. In that time, the Swink Lions came out on top of 111 contests, while dropping only 12 games. Swink won the state championship in 1996 with a victory over Holyoke at the Pueblo Events Center. Blanc also was very successful in his time at Falcon, Mitchell and Coronado high schools, all in the Colorado Springs area.
The folks at Discovery Canyon were more than a bit happy to land the services of Blanc. Following his hiring in April 2014, Discovery Canyon athletic director and assistant principal Sharon Lauer could hardly contain her enthusiasm about the school’s new coach.
“We are very excited for what Coach Blanc brings to the table. He’s one of the winningest coaches in Colorado history. We felt honored that he was looking at our program and that he wants to make an impact here,” said Lauer.
The Discovery Canyon Thunder are very fortunate to have Coach Blanc. Anyone would be.
I was fortunate to get to know Albert Blanc as my freshman coach at Glenwood High School. Blanc was student teaching at GSHS at the time, and Nick Stubler let him take over the frosh squad during hoop season. In the true spirit of someone cut from the cloth of Bob Chavez, Blanc let us run, gun and have a bunch of fun. We went 12-0 for the season, and were hardly tested by our opponents. Three years later, this group of freshmen would still be together, and go on to post the best record in school history (23-0) and capture the 1979 state 2A basketball championship.
Blanc is still as enthusiastic about coaching the game of basketball today as he was back then. Other than being home with Becky, there is no place Blanc would rather be than in a gymnasium.
“I’m still excited to go to practice. The games are the easy part,” said Blanc. “As long as I still love coaching the game and my health is good, I’ll keep going to the gym.”
Despite all the victories and accolades that come with being an elite coach, Blanc says the boys he has been fortunate enough to work with through the years are what mean the most to him.
“I always stay close with my players. That’s what I really enjoy, seeing them as men. Everything I have accomplished in coaching I owe to my players,” Blanc noted.
Blanc’s former players probably realize how lucky they have been to have him as coach.
I know this one does.
Mike Vidakovich writes freelance for the Post Independent.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.