Coal Ridge’s Schmitz to play basketball at Otero Junior College |

Coal Ridge’s Schmitz to play basketball at Otero Junior College

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Submitted photo

PEACH VALLEY, Colorado ” Any time he gets a chance, Eric Schmitz works on bettering his basketball skills.

Be it hoisting 500 jumpers a day in the summer time to drilling with his teammates at practice, basketball is a big part of the Coal Ridge High School senior’s life.

And basketball’s about to become an even bigger part of his life.

Schmitz, a guard whose team-best 19-points-per-game scoring average helped Coal Ridge to a 21-5 overall record and a spot in Class 3A’s Great Eight, recently signed a letter of intent to play ball at Otero Junior College in La Junta.

Playing at the next level marks the realization of a childhood dream for Schmitz.

“Ever since I was a kid I wanted to,” he said. “In high school, it was off and on. This last season showed me it’s something I wanted to do more.”

Schmitz and the Titans recently wrapped a season of, well, titanic proportions, advancing to the Great Eight in Fort Collins for the first time in school history.

“It was a lot of fun,” Schmitz said. “I’m hoping I can have that same fun in college and everything.”

Schmitz knows that fun will come with plenty of sacrifice. Just earning minutes at the next level is challenging.

“My biggest goal is to play,” he said. “If I don’t, then I want to work hard and become the best player I can be in those two years. I just want to have fun with it, to become a better person.”

One of the reasons Schmitz chose Otero is because he believes the men’s basketball program’s head coach, Houston Reed, will help him achieve those goals.

“He seemed like he’d push me to my fullest potential and give me the opportunity to be the best player I could be,” Schmitz said. “That’s why I picked him and the school.”

Schmitz is following in the footsteps of his father, Rick Schmitz, the athletic director and girls basketball coach at Coal Ridge. The elder Schmitz played Division 3 ball at a small college in Iowa back in his athletic heyday.

“I’m grateful he has an opportunity,” Rick said. “It’s up to him whether or not he can do it. It’ll be very competitive, but he’s got an opportunity. I’m excited about that for him.”

To make the most of that opportunity, both father and son know it’ll take more of the same hard work Eric’s been putting in since he was a tyke.

“Since he was about 6 years old ” he’s put in a lot of time since then,” Rick said. “All the way through this year. He realizes he’ll have to continue that if he wants to play. He’s put in a ton of time and worked with many people who’ve helped him along the way.”

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