Walters likely to turn Mesa State women’s hoops program around |

Walters likely to turn Mesa State women’s hoops program around

Mike Vidakovich
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Mike Vidakovich

Former Rifle and Roaring Fork boys basketball coach Roger Walters has made the jump from high school to the college ranks.

The highly successful coach has taken over the struggling women’s basketball program at Mesa State College and will attempt to revive the once-dominant Maverick ladies. If the past is any indication, Walters’ teams will be fundamentally sound in all aspects of the game and play 40 minutes of solid defense every night.

By year three of his tenure, look for the Mesa State women to take up permanent residence toward the top of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference standings.

Along with Walters, there are several other area basketball coaches that I had the privilege of competing against who would fare well at the collegiate level also.

Craig Mortensen (Moffat County), Rick Schmitz (Rifle/Coal Ridge), Sam Provenza (Palisade/Grand Junction), Larry Williams (Roaring Fork), John Mraule (Montrose) and Leah Gonyeau (G.J. Central) were always tough to go against on the hardwood.

Their teams took care of the ball, played hard every possession, never gave an inch defensively, and they did not beat themselves ” all marks of a well-coached team. To get through these coaches and their teams and advance your own team to the state tournament was a tough task each year.

Until recently, the state basketball tournament constituted the final eight teams in each classification. If your team was lucky enough to survive the rivalry-rich district tournament, it was on to a 16-team regional playoff, where the eight winners moved on to play another day.

The current 48-team state tournament in Classes 4A and 5A is much too watered down. In this format, several teams enter the big bracket with sub-.500 records (see Palisade girls at 5-18) and are undeserving of being in any kind of postseason event.

To make matters worse, first-round matchups routinely send teams across the state to play games that usually end in lopsided scores.

With the budget woes schools are facing brought on by the current economic climate, this setup makes no sense from a competitive or financial standpoint. Look for the governing body of Colorado high school sports, CHSAA, to make changes in the near future.

On a final note, former Glenwood Post sports editor John Samuelson recently celebrated his 94th birthday at the Veteran’s Nursing Home in Rifle.

Always the character, Samuelson requested a Hawaiian-style party to celebrate the big day. Surrounded by his entire family, John watched as his daughter Christine and a nursing home staffer livened things up by shaking a leg and doing some hula dancing.

Happy birthday, John. You still got it!

Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer for the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and the former girls basketball coach at Glenwood Springs High School.

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