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First-year success

Three area first-year head coaches led their teams into the high school playoffs Glenwood Springs volleyball coach Scott Nykerk, Rifle football coach Damon Wells and Roaring Fork football coach Matt Hauptly. Nykerk coached the Demons to a state tournament berth this weekend in Denver. Nykerk replaced Denise Greene, who left Glenwood to take over the new Coal Ridge High School volleyball program.Wells took over for Darrel Gorham, who left the Bears for Highlands Ranch after leading Rifle to the Class 3A state title last year. Rifle travels to No. 1-ranked Northridge for the first round of the 3A state playoffs today. Hauptly moved into the football head coaching spot at Roaring Fork after Tory Jensen stepped down after eight seasons to concentrate on business ventures. Roaring Fork defeated Lamar, 21-12 in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs, and hosts defending state champ Faith Christian on Saturday.We asked each of the coaches a few questions to see what may have led to such success in the first year at the helm of their respective program.Scott NykerkAge: 37Team: Glenwood Springs VolleyballPosition prior to becoming head coach: Junior varsity coach at Glenwood for four years.Next up: Class 4A state tournament in Denver, Friday and Saturday.Best moment this year: Beating Battle Mountain at home and qualifying for state.Best coaching lesson ever learned: No commentBiggest risk taken as head coach: No commentWhy will you be better next year? As a teacher, I believe in continual learning. I will prepare in the offseason to be a better coach.One word that sums up your coaching style: Positive.Damon WellsAge: 34Team: Rifle FootballPosition prior to becoming head coach: I was the defensive coordinator at Rifle High School during our 2004 State Championship season. Prior to that, I was the offensive coordinator at Cypress Lake High School in Fort Myers, Fla.Next up: Class 3A first round at Northridge, today, 7 p.m.Best moment this year: Watching film of the previous day’s practice with our kids early in the morning.Best coaching lesson ever learned: They don’t care how much you know until you show them how much you care about them.Biggest risk taken as head coach: Taking over a program that lost every varsity level coach and 21 seniors.Why will you be better next year? Because I work hard to get better every season, and next year will just be another step.One word that sums up your coaching style: MeaningfulMatt HauptlyAge: 35 Team: Roaring Fork FootballPosition prior to becoming head coach: Strength and conditioning coach and freshman English teacher at RFHS for the last six years. Before that, I taught history and coached football, wrestling and lacrosse at the New Hampton School in New Hampton, N. H. and at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington D.C.Next Up: Class 2A second round vs. Faith Christian, Saturday, 2 p.m.Best moment this year: Beating Rifle. Anytime you can get a win against the defending state champion is a huge confidence builder.Best coaching lesson ever learned: Remembering that it is always about what is good for the kids. You have to put your ego aside and do what is best for the kids.Biggest risk taken as a head coach: Taking the job in the first place. Tory Jensen took the team to six straight playoff appearances. That’s a tough act to follow.Why will you be better next year? I’ll have to see how hard we work in the offseason before I answer that one.One word that sums up your coaching style: Tough-but-fair. Is that one word?


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