Surprising season makes Rifle’s Skinner coach of the year
GLENWOOD SPINGS, Colorado – Cindy Skinner just wrapped her 14th year as the central figure in Rifle softball. Most would welcome the breather that accompanies the offseason, particularly in the midst of such a lengthy tenure.But not Skinner. She’s already looking forward to a 15th season.”I wish we could start tomorrow,” she said.Skinner is the heart and soul of Rifle softball.She started the program back in 1995 and has been a mainstay on the diamond ever since, spending most of the past 14 years as the Bears’ head coach.Under her direction, there’s one thing the folks in Rifle have come to count on – winning softball seasons.And 2008 was no different. Despite losing big names to graduation, the Bears won their fourth straight 4A Western Slope League title, going 16-6 before seeing their season come to an end at regionals.Those credentials landed Skinner coach of the year honors on the 2008 Western Colorado Sports writers/KJCT Channel 8 All-Western Slope softball team.A fourth straight league title isn’t exactly what Skinner expected at the season’s start. She knew graduation had taken its toll and a rebuilding process awaited.Turns out, that rebuilding process didn’t take all that long.”At the beginning of the season, we were really struggling with errors and such,” she said. “I thought we could possibly have a tough time, but the girls worked really hard and listened to us coaches. They responded. The credit goes to the girls.”Skinner also credits assistant coaches Troy Phillips and Crista Buresh.”I don’t do it by myself,” she said. “We coach as a team. We have just a great group of coaches.”Though she has skilled help, Skinner’s more than holding her own in the central role.In her 20th year as a counselor at Rifle High School, Skinner’s crafted her career around kids. That longevity doesn’t come without a passion for education. So it’s no wonder she so enthusiastically awaits August 2009, when she’ll again split her tutelage between the halls of Rifle High School and the softball diamond at Deerfield Park.
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.