Volunteer coach loves what he does
CARBONDALE – When the Roaring Fork girls basketball team takes to the court following the holiday break, Larry Stangeland will be in his customary spot on the Ram bench with head coach Kirk Cheney and assistants Nancy Zeigel and Jennifer Hunt.Stangeland is in his fourth season at Roaring Fork High School as a volunteer assistant coach. He started helping with the girls program the same year that Cheney took over as head coach. Cheney is more than happy to have the extra help from someone as dependable as Stangeland.”He’s volunteered the last four years,” said Cheney, in a preseason interview. “He does so much for the kids and he won’t ever take a penny. Larry just loves being around the kids and the game.”Growing up in Starbuck, Minn., Stangeland says, “I started playing basketball when I was knee-high to a grasshopper.” Stangeland graduated from Starbuck High School in 1979, where he played on the school’s basketball and football teams as well as running cross country for two years.Coming out of high school, Stangeland’s basketball skills were good enough to help him make the team as a walk-on at Alexandria Technical College, a school just 30 miles north of his hometown.”They didn’t give athletic scholarships at Alexandria, so I decided to try out for the basketball team,” said Stangeland. “I walked into that gym on the first day and saw 68 other guys at open tryouts. I was plenty nervous, but I made the team and played both years I was there.”With Alexandria being a two-year school, Stangeland graduated in 1981 and was offered a job as a carpenter in Carbondale by Alexandria alumnus Wayne Rudd. Stangeland worked his way up to superintendent and now has his own construction company, Crystal Springs Builders, which he manages along with Mike Cerise.Stangeland has always stayed close to the game of basketball, whether it’s been playing town league hoops, or helping Cheney coach middle school boys basketball teams in the spring AAU circuit before they both made the move up to the high school ranks.Stangeland feels fortunate to be involved with the program at Roaring Fork. He enjoys the kids and the coaches he works with.”It’s been awesome working with this group of coaches,” he said. “The knowledge that Kirk (Cheney) brings to practice after all of those years being a referee. It’s interesting to see.”Speaking of practice, Stangeland is hoping the Ram team that he watches each day on the practice court, will bring that same performance level to every game this winter.”We need to get how we practice to carry over into the games. We still have a little difficulty doing that, but watching these girls mature over the years has been unbelievable,” said Stangeland.How this group of Rams will fare as the season plays out will be decided on the court, but it will have little to do with how Stangeland feels about them. He’s hoping they will still be playing in mid-March on a much bigger stage-the 3A state tournament in Ft. Collins.”I’d really like to see this senior class make it because they have worked so hard and have played together since middle school,” said Stangeland. “The respect they have for one another on the court in life in general is fun to watch.”
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