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After 20 enthusiastic years at Coronado, athletic director ready to 'throttle back' in retirement

       Dave Howard, who was athletic director at Coronado High School during the football resurgence that led to a state championship in 2013, has retired.
       He had been at the school for 20 years, the last 14 as athletic director and business manager.
       “I'm leaving feeling 100 percent great about my experience here,” said Howard. “It's been nice. I love the Westside. I can't believe it's been 20 years.”
       His replacement is Andy Colgate, who most recently was the defensive
In one of his last days in his athletic director's office at Coronado High, Dave Howard stands in front of a bulletin board overflowing with patches from school championship teams. In his right hand he's holding a football presented by the Denver Broncos at a Broncos game to the Coronado 2013 team members in honor of their state championship. In his left hand is a basketball from the Coronado Cougars' first hoop victory Feb. 11, 1971, in the school's inaugural year.
Westside Pioneer photo
coordinator for the Pine Creek High football team and previously spent a year as assistant coach for Coronado wrestling.
       Westsiders who attended any football rallies over the past two decades - such as the ones climaxing the annual Homecoming Parades in Old Colorado City - may recall Howard as the enthusiastic man on the stage revving up student spirit.
       Asked about those moments, he chuckled that sometimes “I don't know what's going to come out of my mouth when I've got a microphone,” but made it clear that he doesn't fake his zeal. “I don't have any problem showing passion that way. I enjoy it. Sometimes I go over the top, but it's part of who I am.”
       In his own high school years, “over the top” for Howard had a specific physical connotation. He was a high-jumper in track. While attending Air Force Academy High School in 1977, he won the state championship, clearing the bar at 7-foot-1. Now age 54, he admits he's not quite as lean as he was then. “I couldn't long-jump 7 feet now,” he laughed.
       He also competed in the high jump in college (University of Oregon, originally as a walk-on), before returning to the Pikes Peak region in the mid-1980s, armed with a teaching certificate and looking for a job.
       He did some subbing and assistant coaching, but the only full-time educational employment he could find was at a small town in Wyoming.
       In a noteworthy coincidence, before he went to Wyoming, one of his local coaching gigs was at Coronado for a season, assisting on a football squad that included a freshman player named Darin Smith…who's now the school's principal.
       Howard returned to this area from Wyoming in 1991, teaching at Chipeta and North schools. His Coronado opportunity came three years later, when he was hired as a P.E. and health teacher (as well as an assistant coach).
       But as he tells it, after a few years, with a family and two growing boys, he hoped to earn a bigger paycheck in the educational world. The way to do that, while still employed at Coronado, was to gain a master's degree. It made him eligible to be a principal. “But all I wanted to be was an athletic director,” he said.
       The timing worked out - for Howard and Coronado - because the school's previous athletic director left in 2001.
       Looking back over his years in the position, he can recall numerous enjoyable memories, particularly
Backed by Coronado student president Carter Gerber (left) and cheerleaders on the Bancroft Park stage, Dave Howard fires up the crowd during the pep rally after the 2013 Homecoming Parade through Old Colorado City.
Westside Pioneer file photo
thrilling come-from-behind wins. Undeniable on that list is the 2013 football team, which produced a string of improbable comebacks, topped by their erasing a 17- point deficit in the state title game. The season also had the bonus of ending the school's reputation as doormats. “We used to be everybody's homecoming game,” Howard said, referring to a common practice among schools. “No one wants us for homecoming now.”
       As a caveat, Howard added that he meant no criticism against previous Coronado football players and coaches who put forth strong efforts; further, he pointed out, in many of those losing years the school was competing against schools with much higher enrollments.
       Regarding the successes Coronado has had in sports during his tenure, Howard deferred the credit to his coaches. He mentioned a few names - among them Joan Powell, Bobby Lizarraga, Doug Hugill and Matt Brickell - conceding that he probably was leaving out some he should have named. In all, he summarized, “We've had some incredible coaches here, not just knowledgeable but good for the kids. If they weren't good for the kids, I didn't care how good they were at coaching. They weren't going to stay.”
       Typical of District 11 schools, according to Howard, his job as athletic director also included business manager for the school. A main reason for this is that most of a school's monetary flow involves athletics, he explained.
       Howard thanked his assistant, Kelly Sveen, for helping him stay organized. Sveen herself is one of a number of Coronado grads who have returned to work at their alma mater, either as teachers or administrative staffers.
       Both of Howard's sons attended Coronado. Kyle graduated in 2004 and Trent in '07. Both were in sports, with Kyle going on to play football at the University of Wyoming and later getting invited as a free agent to the San Francisco '49ers training camp (where he was a late cut).
       Looking ahead to retirement, Howard said he hopes to “throttle back” from the 70-hour weeks that his athletic director job usually demanded. He plans to spend more time with his family, do some fishing and hunting and catch up on “a lot of projects around the house.”
       That all sounds good. But don't give up entirely on seeing a familiar face with the microphone at this fall's Coronado Homecoming Parade pep rally.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 6/3/15, updated 6/4/15; Schools: Coronado High School )

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