Overtime

AD follows winning path to Hall of Fame

Column by Jim Benton
Posted 9/11/18

Arvada West athletic director Casey Coons is a Hall of Famer. It is an honor that I envisaged since he was well-schooled. Coons is a fellow graduate of Denver’s Abraham Lincoln high school. Coons, …

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Overtime

AD follows winning path to Hall of Fame

Posted

Arvada West athletic director Casey Coons is a Hall of Famer.

It is an honor that I envisaged since he was well-schooled. Coons is a fellow graduate of Denver’s Abraham Lincoln high school.

Coons, who graduated from high school years after I did, will be part of the 24th Western State Colorado University Hall of Fame class that will be inducted on Sept. 14 in Gunnison.

He was an offensive lineman for Western State and a 1980 graduate who played on three Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title teams and twice played in NAIA post-season playoff games.

After coaching at Black Hills State University and Western Oregon, Coons returned to Western State in 1988 as an assistant for head coach Duke Iverson. He was promoted to assistant head coach and defensive coordinator in 1991.

In three seasons starting with the 1991 campaign, the Mountaineers won three conference titles, advanced to the NAIA playoffs once and made two NCAA playoff appearances.

“I think I’m the first assistant coach to go into the Hall of Fame at Western State,” said Coons, who was Arvada West’s head football coach from 2002 to 2011. “We thought we were going to get fired in 1991 unless we turned it around. It wasn’t just me. So much went into it. It’s a we thing, especially in football.”

Brent Tollar was one person who sent in a nomination letter.

“Coach Coons created a well- bonded defense and team mentality that focused on hard work, grit and an unbreakable ideal that we always stood together as a team,” wrote Tollar.

“The only thing that mattered was the name on the front of the jersey. The very foundation that I believe Mountaineer football stands for comes from someone like Casey Coons.”

Match point

Granted, it wasn’t the U.S. Open tennis championships.

It was the 13th annual Willow Creek Classic doubles tournament that took place Sept. 5-9 at courts in the Willow Creek neighborhood in Centennial and other nearby South Suburban courts.

Tennis players from the south Denver area apparently like to wrap up the summer tennis season with competitive, tough matches that are fun and without a lot of pressure. Plus there was always food and drinks waiting at the conclusion of matches in the quaint, unsanctioned tournament in which players have to register by mail.

This year there were 225 players entered to play in women’s 3.o, 3.5 and 4.0 doubles and men’s 3.5, 4.0 doubles. There was competition in 6.5, 7.0, 7.5 and 8.0 mixed doubles. The tourney concluded with a unique, eight-game pro set mixed doubles event.

“The tournament does attract good tennis players who feel welcome and are not intimidated,” said tournament organizer Rick Bolin. “What sets the tournament apart from other tournaments is that people love how social it is, how friendly it is and we as organizers go out of our way to make sure there is food and drinks available. The fridge is fully stocked.

“We attract great tennis players from all over the south metro area from Highlands Ranch, Ken Caryl, Parker, the Pinery, and last year we had four women who came down from Aspen. We allowed as many people to register as we could find courts and then we had to stop.”

Willow Creek resident Jamele Leyden has played in the tournament since it started.

“Even if you are not playing there is someone that I know that is on the court,” she said. “It’s a great tournament to relax. It is well run. Everyone is playing to win but it’s such a relaxed environment and at some point you are going to be playing against people you know. Because it’s non-sanctioned there is no pressure. It’s fun.”

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at jbenton@coloradocommunitymedia.com or at 303-566-4083.

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