Glenwood Springers welcome new coach |

Glenwood Springers welcome new coach

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” As an assistant track and field coach at Glenwood Springs High School back in the mid-1990s, Blake Risner coached against Crystal Garrison, then a sprinter at Moffat County.

Little did he know, their track worlds would again collide a dozen years later.

And, this time, they’re on the same team.

Garrison, a 1996 Moffat County High School graduate who helped rejuvenate a high school program in northern California, is taking over the summer Glenwood Springers track and field program, which is open to athletes 9 to 18 years old.

It’s a good thing she’s familiar with building a program, because she’ll have to resurrect the club from a dormant state ” it’s been shelved the last two summers. Construction at Glenwood Springs High School left the Springers facility-less last summer; Risner’s resignation after 10 years as the Springers’ coach put the program on hiatus the previous summer.

Risner, still the high school coach and the Springers’ winter indoor program coach, has been courting Garrison, for the post for some time.

When Garrison moved back to Colorado from California this school year to take a job as an English Language Learner teacher at Basalt High School, he jumped at the chance to secure her coaching services.

“Oddly enough, we’ve been communicating for about a year and a half,” he said. “She replied to our ad at that time for a high school assistant coach. She thought at that point she’d be moving out immediately. She really didn’t want to get too far from track and field. She’s really in love with the sport, similar to how I feel. When she did get to Basalt, I contacted her right away.”

With middle school and high school programs bursting at the seams with talent, Garrison has plenty to work with as she brings the Springers back to life. Even if the pieces weren’t there, she’d likely have little trouble putting it all together.

At Armijo High School in Fairfield, Calif., Garrison flourished as the head track and field coach. Beyond coaching, the physical education teacher took pride in growing the program’s numbers.

“I actually took the team that started with 17 people ” the first year I was an assistant ” and by the second year as head coach, I had it up to 60 people,” Garrison boasted. “By the time I quit last year, there were 147 people.”

It isn’t all about numbers for the new Springers coach, who in California successfully peddled track and field as a way to rerail young lives.

“It was kind of in a low, socioeconomic income area,” Garrison said. “We took a lot of kids that weren’t doing too well with their lives and helped them.”

She’s already hard on the recruiting trail locally, something Risner and company will benefit from in both the near and distant future. With track and field booming for him at the high school level, he would have hated to see the Springers’ hiatus stretched another year.

“The success we’re having right now, I attribute much of it to the many kids that were in Springers at 9, 10, 11 years old,” he explained. “Growing up, I think that they earned a level of respect for the sport. They started developing a love for the sport and that’s showing at the high school level now. We were concerned that, if we went too many years, we’d lose that.

“Having someone who cares about the program and cares about the kids at a young age will only enhance what’s going on.”

Risner and the rest of the Springers board believe they have just that.

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