| AspenTimes.com

AHS graduate AK Fuentes heads to New England to play DIII college hockey

Even before she got to high school, Ana Kate Fuentes — who goes by AK — had it all planned out. She was going to graduate and she was going to play college hockey.

It was that simple.

“When we got her eighth grade packet, if you will, when she graduated, she had some goals in there,” said Dave Fuentes, AK’s father. “One of them was to graduate from high school. The second one was to play hockey in college. She’s had it on her mind for a while and she basically figured out how to make it happen.”

AK Fuentes, who was part of the Aspen High School graduating class of 2020 in May, has dedicated herself to the sport over the past four years and it paid off. She’ll attend New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire, where she’ll play for the Pilgrims’ NCAA Division III women’s ice hockey team.

“I clicked really well with the coach and some of the girls on the team,” AK Fuentes said. “I play a similar style to most of the girls on that team, and I really liked the campus. Everything just kind of clicked together.”

Fuentes went out of her way to make the hockey dream work. She played for the Colorado Select and then Team Colorado her freshman and sophomore years, both AAA programs. Then she decided to move to St. Louis, Missouri, her final two years of high school to play for the St. Louis Blues AAA team. She lived with the family of one of her teammates and attended a public high school in the area. She returned to AHS for her final semester to graduate as a Skier.

Fuentes missed some time in there battling a hip injury, but gained enough exposure to catch the eye of the New England College assistants and earn a spot on their team.

“I finally got back on the ice and we had a tournament in Boston over Christmas break and the New England College assistant coach was there and saw me play and then talked to me after one of the games,” AK Fuentes said. “Since I started high school I really wanted to play in college. I was thinking about taking a gap year before I met with the New England College coach.”

Should the coronavirus pandemic not get in the way, Fuentes has plans to compete in a tournament next week in Boston — which is about 80 miles south of the New England College campus — where she’ll get to skate alongside some of her new college teammates for the first time.

This winter, should the season take place, Fuentes will try and help the Pilgrims have their first winning season since 2010-11. They went 3-21-1 last season.

“It’ll be a good place for her to meet some of her teammates and compete with them,” Dave Fuentes said of the Boston tournament next week. “It’s going to be fun and it will be great for her. The school is a great fit. It’s got her major and it was fun to see her being recruited by the criminal justice department just as much as for the hockey.”

Maybe more so than the hockey, AK Fuentes loved the school’s academic fit. She dreams of a career as an FBI agent, a passion fueled in part by watching numerous crime dramas growing up.

“I’ve always enjoyed watching cop shows and I’ve been really into true crime documentaries,” she said. “I’ve watched everything on Ted Bundy that is out there. It’s just so fascinating to me. The FBI, I watched a lot of ‘Criminal Minds,’ so it seemed really cool.”

Fuentes plans to play center in college, a position that suits her well considering she’s adept at playing all over the ice. She grew up playing with the boys as a defenseman, and even spent a short time playing goalie, although admitted she was never all that good in net.

Still, she’s a lot better at it than she was at her first sport of ballet. Enamored by watching her brother, Jamison Fuentes, practice, she had left ballet behind by age 5 and jumped into the hockey world. Jamison is a pitcher for Adams State University’s baseball team, while Dave Fuentes has long coached the AHS softball and baseball teams in some capacity.

“They’ve got a really good handle on what they are doing, how they are doing it, and it makes me feel really comfortable sending her out there knowing they have a plan on how to handle all of it,” Dave Fuentes said of New England College’s plan in regard to the pandemic. “When she made the decision to move to St. Louis, we supported her on it. St. Louis is a long way away. Boston is a long way away. But it’s still a plane ride and it’s still reachable.”

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Max Godomsky takes young lacrosse career to Wheaton College’s DIII program

Max Godomsky is a difference maker. Maybe not in terms of on-field productivity, but he’s the sort of player who made the Aspen High School lacrosse team better as a whole. And that’s largely why he was one of the senior captains for the Skiers this past spring.

“He’s going to do everything he can to make the people surrounding him better and his team better. He is the epitome of a team player,” second-year AHS boys lacrosse coach Tommy Cox said. “Max is by no means the most skilled player on the team — and he is very good, don’t get me wrong — but he’s the guy that just by purely being there makes every other player on the field up their efforts and play better.”

Like the rest of the spring sport athletes, Godomsky wasn’t able to finish out his senior season with his teammates because of the coronavirus pandemic. Seasons were first delayed before being canceled outright, meaning an early and unsatisfying end to many competitive careers.

This was difficult for Godomsky to take in, but there is a silver lining considering his career is just getting underway. Part of the AHS class of 2020, Godomsky will attend Wheaton College in Massachusetts next year, where he will be part of the Lyons NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse program.

“I’m stoked. It’s going to be awesome, especially after losing our senior season here,” Godomsky said. “It’s not the same guys, which is going to suck, but it’s also an opportunity to build new relationships and new experiences and further myself as a leader.”

Godomsky is actually fairly new to the sport, as he only began to play lacrosse competitively when he moved to Aspen ahead of his freshman season. This past spring would have been his first as a bonafide starter for the Skiers.

However, lacrosse is certainly in his blood. His mother, Heidi, played college lacrosse at William & Mary and later coached at Colby College. The family, which includes Max’s two younger brothers, moved to the valley after their father, Mark Godomsky, took over as the executive director of the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.

“I’d always dreamed I was going to ski in college. Then I stopped doing that my junior year after I hurt myself,” said Max Godomsky, who along with his brothers typically played baseball in the spring growing up. “It wasn’t really until I decided I didn’t want baseballs being thrown at me anymore that I wanted to go find something else. A little more fast paced, which I enjoy a lot more.”

Godomsky was a little late in picking colleges. He ultimately narrowed it down to five — he knew he wanted to return to his roots on the East Coast — and eventually had three of those schools’ respective lacrosse programs get back to him about playing. Ultimately, Wheaton offered him a roster spot and Godomsky made his commitment to the school back in November.

He’s likely to continue on as a midfielder, much like he was with the Skiers, and possibly serve as the Lyons’ faceoff man.

“He’s got this East Coast lacrosse mentality that is in his bloodline, so to speak. That’s just a whole another level of effort and wanting it,” Cox said. “Max will continue to develop into an unbelievable athlete and especially lacrosse player. That’s attributed to his mom and more importantly the mentality he has of, ‘I’m not going to stop until I get better.’”

Wheaton is located in Norton, which is just south of Boston and just down the road from Foxborough and Gillette Stadium, home of the NFL’s New England Patriots. Which is good considering Godomsky is a huge fan of the Pats, as well as the Red Sox and Bruins. The downside is he’ll have to drive a bit to ski, but he does have many friends near Sunday River Resort in Maine, and his grandfather still lives near Sugarloaf.

He plans to study business at Wheaton, and possibly minor in psychology, although his mind is hardly made up.

Outside of wanting to continue to play lacrosse, that is. Godomsky is the first player to move on to play in college under Cox’s short tenure as head coach.

“Being on the field, he is going to hustle for you. He’s going to be out there,” Cox said. “Max is going to become the best player on the field and I have no doubt about that.”

acolbert@aspentimes.com

CHSAA hopes to resume fall sports as originally scheduled come August

DILLON — The Colorado High School Activities Association on Friday released a statement informing the high school sports community that it intends to commence fall sports come autumn.

In the statement, CHSAA Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green said the state association is proceeding with guidelines and standards for resuming fall sports on their scheduled start dates.

Blanford-Green added that CHSAA, the governing body of Colorado high school sports, is encouraged by the most recent guidelines from Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ office, saying they “align” with the association’s plans to resume all education-based athletics and activities for the 2020-21 school year.

The commissioner said the state’s newest safer-at-home order and pending protect-our-neighbors phase provide CHSAA staff with more flexibility to construct regular season, postseason and contingency plans for fall programs. She added that all of the association’s sport-specific plans will be subject to oversight and review from CHSAA’s sports medicine advisory committee before the plans are released to school athletic departments across the state for implementation. That advisory committee includes a mental health component.

The commissioner said CHSAA staff is preparing to potentially adjust and modify sports programs to meet “the diverse educational platforms that will be introduced this fall.”

Blanford-Green acknowledged the statewide organization’s task could become more complicated considering educational and health mandates might vary at district levels and from county to county. With that, Blanford-Green said CHSAA’s plans will be subject to change “to provide equitable participation opportunities across the state.”

“A shutdown in one area, impacting one classification, would send our staff back to the white board,” she said in the statement. “The state and county data and decisions are fluctuating, so we continue to plan for the knowns of today and the unknowns of tomorrow.”

As of Friday afternoon, CHSAA lists Aug. 10 as the association’s start date for practice for cross country running, field hockey, football, gymnastics, boys soccer, softball, spirit, boys tennis, girls volleyball and unified tennis. Boys golf is scheduled to start practice a week earlier on Aug. 3.

Summit High School fields football, cross country running, boys golf, boys soccer and girls volleyball teams. Per CHSAA, boys golf would begin play Aug. 6, boys soccer, cross country running and girls volleyball would begin game play Aug. 20 and football on Aug. 27.

“Our primary and only objective, while acknowledging that we are still in the midst of a national pandemic, will be to resume athletics and activities with the safety and well-being of our participants, coaches, officials, staff and school communities in the forefront,” Blanford-Green said in the statement.

In the fall, Summit High also fields a girls rugby team that competes via Rugby Colorado, the governing body of all youth and high school-level rugby. On Friday, team head coach Karl Barth said he hadn’t heard any specifics on the start of the high school rugby season. That said, he added he is optimistic that there is a good chance Rugby Colorado’s high school season will take place in some fashion if schools are in session and CHSAA is undertaking competition.

The Tigers’ girls rugby team traditionally begins its August practices the same week CHSAA resumes practice.

aolivero@summitdaily.com

Phased plan begins Monday to resume athletic activity on RFSD grounds

Student-athletes in the Roaring Fork School District may resume voluntary sports workouts using outdoor school facilities starting Monday, but with strict health precautions in place to protect against coronavirus spread.

School district officials announced Friday that they have developed a phased plan to return to athletic participation, based on local and state health and safety requirements and recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The plan was reviewed by the public health departments in Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties, according to a district news release. It will involve a tiered return to sports activities through the summer, leading up to a tentative start to formal practices in August, depending on where things stand at that point.

Athletic participation during phase one this summer for schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt will require:

— All coaches and students to be screened for COVID-19 signs and symptoms before participating in each workout.

— All workouts will be held outside; there will not be access to locker facilities, weight rooms and gyms.

— All activities must adhere to a maximum of 10 people, reflecting the most restrictive local requirement currently in place (This number may change as public health requirements change).

— All workouts will be conducted in student cohorts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

— Social distancing must be maintained, and masks must be worn unless the activity is exempted (swimming, distance running and high-intensity aerobic activity).

— All participants must use their own equipment for ball sports; all shared equipment, such as weights, must be sanitized before and after use.

“Plans for phases two and three become increasingly less restrictive in conjunction with the continued reopening and expansion of activities in our community,” the news release states. “The district reserves the right to change the restrictions and requirements outlined in this document as needed to support the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, and the broader community.”

All summer workouts are voluntary for students, per Colorado High School Activities Association bylaws, and coaches. Students who choose to participate in RFSD athletic activities over the summer must complete a waiver.

AHS senior-to-be Tyler Ward headed to California in pursuit of football dreams

Aspen High School standout Tyler Ward is hoping those college offers start coming his way. And in order to give himself a better chance of playing football at the next level, Ward announced Friday he will spend his upcoming senior season in California.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder intends to transfer to Calabasas High School, which is located in the hills just northwest of downtown Los Angeles. He admitted it wasn’t an easy decision to make, but it’s a situation that could lead to bigger opportunities down the line.

“It’s a pretty good football program they have out there. There were a string of quarterback transfers out there that kind of led to my interest,” Ward told The Aspen Times on Saturday. “But I’m not necessarily going for the whole football aspect. I think it’s a great opportunity for me to experience something new, live somewhere new, the whole nine yards.”

Suiting up for the Coyotes means Ward will play for a much bigger school — Calabasas has about 2,000 students, compared to Aspen’s 500 or so — and compete against tougher competition that will test him more than the Western Slope could. Calabasas has a rich history of producing college talent, including last year’s star quarterback, Jaden Casey, who signed with the University of California.

With a few players having recently left the Calabasas program, Ward could be in a good position to be the team’s starting quarterback this coming fall.

“Coming out here to a big California school, it should make things a lot easier to get exposure,” Ward said. “It was definitely tough leaving some of my friends, some of my teammates, my coaches. All that was super tough. I still kind of have a little bit of guilt, just leaving. I thought we were going to have a good year this year. I was pretty excited about everything that was falling into place. But the whole opportunity was truly too good to pass up.”

Calabasas is coached by Cary Harris, a former cornerback at the University of Southern California (2005-2008) who bounced around the National Football League for a few years. The team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Curtis Lamont Conway, played at USC in the early ’90s and had a 12-year NFL career.

Ward’s been in contact with numerous programs, a handful at the Division I level, but as of Saturday had yet to be offered a scholarship. The summer before a player’s senior season is often a busy one in terms of camps and recruiting, but because of the coronavirus pandemic much of this has grinded to a halt and made it difficult for recruits and coaches alike.

Trey Fabrocini, who would have been part of the AHS class of 2020, took a similar route as Ward when he decided to play for Fisher Catholic High School in Lancaster, Ohio, for his senior season. Fabrocini is committed to play running back at Division III Denison University in Granville, Ohio.

“It hasn’t been easy getting recruited coming out of Aspen. That’s definitely been a struggle,” Ward said. “This was kind of my big summer, especially after I started to build relationships with coaches and then being able to attend their camps. But the coronavirus kind of altered that a little bit.”

Ward will certainly leave a void on the Aspen football roster this coming season. He took over the starting job as a sophomore, leading AHS to a 6-4 record and a playoff appearance by throwing for 2,202 yards with 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Skiers finished 4-5 overall in 2019, Ward’s junior season, one that was hindered by numerous injuries.

If all goes to plan and Ward does find a collegiate home, he said he’s in position to graduate at semester and could join a college program in time for spring camp in 2021. He’s also a standout lacrosse player, but is putting all his eggs into the football basket.

The Coyotes are scheduled to begin practice June 29, so Ward will be headed west sooner rather than later.

“Really depending on how I play out there will really determine where I end up playing,” Ward said. “L.A. is kind of the hotbed for quarterbacks these days, so I’m in a really good area to succeed and get exposure. I’m confident. I’m looking forward to the opportunity, looking forward to the challenges. It should be a good situation.”

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Glenwood Springs linebacker Kelton McPherson commits to Lake Forest

Kelton McPherson played a lot. He played three sports in high school, all the way from ice hockey to lacrosse to football.

The latter of the three will now be his avenue to an education as he recently committed to Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois.

McPherson plans to compete for a starting defensive spot once he arrives.

“My dream scenario is to obviously start my freshman year and play all four years,” McPherson said. “But, one thing I’m excited for — since I have been a three-year starter, I haven’t had as much competition for our starting position — that (competition) is one thing that I look forward to a lot.”

In his time at Glenwood Springs High School, McPherson played linebacker. He was also named a captain his senior year and played nearly every snap.

Free time for McPherson largely consisted of just as much competition, only with his five siblings, instead of opponents. Lately, he’s even competed with his brother in the weight room. The drive isn’t new to his former head coach, Pat Engle.

“Kelton is a coach’s dream as a football player,” Engle said. “He’s an aggressive, mature and intelligent football player. He was kind of the heart and soul of our teams.”

McPherson even gives credit to his family for that impact.

“My dad taught me to be very competitive,” McPherson said. “He was my hockey coach, and me and my brother are 11 months apart. So, we have had a lot of competitions with each other and definitely have always thought we had to one-up each other.”

Though he has yet to depart for Illinois, McPherson’s already begun participating in the team’s workout program. Alongside him has been his brother, Nolan.

With all of the family impact on his athletic life, the decision to head to Lake Forest was put squarely on Kelton’s shoulders.

“We have a large family of children and they all have their own strengths and passions,” said Kelton’s mother, Lisa. “It’s at the point right now where he needs to do what makes his heart happy. He needs to have the path that is best for him so that he’s happy and successful.

“And in all, it was what fit best for him, because we’ve always encouraged them to try as many things as possible and to pursue what makes (them) happy and fulfilled.”

Kelton will head to the Midwest once the country opens back up. Behind him, he leaves a legacy as a Demons’ football stalwart.

“Kelton is just an all-day tough kind of kid,” Engle said. “I think that when you look at someone, and the word that you describe (with is) tough — there’s not too many kids that don’t want that description.”

sports@postindependent.com

Moffat County School District names Lance Scranton new football coach

CRAIG — A familiar face will be back on the sidelines to guide the Moffat County High School football program this fall.

Lance Scranton, a former assistant coach in football and a current assistant coach in track and field, was officially named the new head coach for the Bulldogs’ football team on Friday. Scranton takes over for Jamie Nelson, who resigned from the position shortly after leading the Bulldogs to the state playoffs in 2019.

In a press release to the Craig Press Friday afternoon, Moffat County High School principal Sarah Hepworth announced that Scranton will be the new coach.

Scranton has served on and off as an assistant football coach at Moffat County for 17 years and was last a head football coach in Arizona where he led a program for five seasons.

This is his first head coaching job in Colorado.

“It feels great,” Scranton said following the announcement of his hiring as the new head coach. “I’m looking forward to doing a lot of things we’ve done in the past, and maintaining some traditions that have made Bulldog football strong. I’m looking forward to continue working with these athletes and gearing up for the fall.”

Scranton takes over a Moffat County program that went 5-5 last season under Nelson and reached the Class 2A state playoffs for the first time since 2015. In the playoffs, Moffat County was bounced by Sterling, 56-14, in the first round.

Gone are 2019 standout seniors Dagan White and Dario Alexander, but fortunately for Scranton he inherits a strong group for 2020, led by guys like Ryan Peck, Joseph Campagna, Ethan Hafey, Corey Scranton, Taran Teeter, Logan Hafey, Daniel Cruz, and more.

White played under Scranton for a number of years and says he’s the right man for the job.

“He knows a lot about football and how to make you better at football,” White said. “He likes to hit the weight room, so I think those guys will keep getting bigger … I’m excited for the team and look forward to getting to watch them. … He helped me through a bunch of stuff during my career, so I really appreciate him as a coach and a mentor.”

That experience returning for 2020 should help Scranton’s first year at the helm be a smooth transition thanks to familiarity in the locker room and on both sides of the ball, in terms of play style.

“We’re still really dedicated to running a spread offense,” Scranton said. “That allows us to pick and choose points of attack against a defense. Defensively, we’ll continue to run some form of a 4-2-5, which allows us to do some different things and attack opposing offenses in certain areas.

“Overall, we will look similar, but we’ll have a few new wrinkles added.”

For now, Scranton continues to oversee offseason conditioning workouts. At this time it is unclear when – or if – the Colorado High School Activities Association will allow full team workouts to be conducted leading up to the start of the official fall season.

Craig Press reporter David Pressgrove contributed to this report.

jcarney@craigdailypress.com

Basalt High’s Zoe Vozick to play Division I softball at George Mason University

For a while, it didn’t look like softball was going to be part of Zoe Vozick’s future plans. The recent Basalt High School graduate was committed to the University of Washington as a student and was coming to terms of a life without her favorite sport when a different Washington intervened.

“I was super late in the recruiting process and I felt like nothing was going my way,” Vozick said. “As soon as the possibility of playing softball was re-introduced, I knew it felt true to my heart and that I had to do it.”

In a last-second move, Vozick reached out to the George Mason University program, which was in need of a class of 2020 catcher. From there, the stars aligned rather quickly and now Vozick is headed to Fairfax, Virginia — just outside of Washington, D.C. — to play NCAA Division I softball for the Patriots.

“It felt as if all the dots were connecting, getting to play competitive softball, study what I want, in a location that I want,” said Vozick, who had also looked into various DII and DIII programs. “None of them felt right, which is what made George Mason so exciting. As soon as the offer was there, I knew that it was the one.”

Vozick was a star for BHS softball. A standout catcher who also dabbled in the infield, she was one of the best bats in the state. She hit .667 this past fall as a senior, when the Longhorns had one of their best seasons in program history, going 23-2 overall and advancing to the Class 3A state quarterfinals.

Her favorite memory as a Longhorn? It was Vozick’s freshman year, when she made a diving catch to help keep her team in front against Delta in a battle for the league lead. She said that was “when I first fell in love with softball,” and “not because I made a good play, but because I got to experience the familial feeling softball encompasses.”

That family aspect, especially on road trips, is what Vozick will remember the most, and it’s that same feeling she looks forward to the most when she heads to George Mason.

“Every relationship I’ve had with them has been super positive,” Vozick said. “It’s been really exciting to meet a ton of new girls. That’s always been my favorite part of the sport is just making those long-lasting connections.”

The Patriots play out of the Atlantic 10 Conference and were 7-12 overall this past spring before the novel coronavirus pandemic brought an early end to the softball season. They finished 22-25 overall in 2019.

George Mason will have a new head coach in Justin Walker this coming season. One of the team’s former assistants, he was promoted after Joe Verbanic stepped down in April after 16 seasons leading the program. Walker is the coach who offered Vozick a spot on the team.

“I reached out to them and almost immediately the coach responded to me and said he was interested,” said Vozick, who officially committed May 18.

Not only did Vozick land a spot on the GMU softball team, but she was admitted into the school’s Honors College. The proximity to the nation’s capital was another major draw, considering she plans to study social justice and human rights.

Having grown up as the only girl on various baseball teams and having to battle through those gender stigmas, Vozick has a desire to use sport as a way to bridge that divide between the sexes. Her senior capstone project at BHS included making a documentary on female empowerment.

“It was super motivating and so powerful that I decided I wanted to continue doing that,” Vozick said. “I just want to help women in developing countries play sports in more male dominated societies.”

Vozick plans to spend the summer playing softball for the Colorado Angels, a competitive travel team based out of Denver. With tournaments all over the country — pandemic allowing — this will allow her to face other players destined for the college ranks.

She’ll head to George Mason in mid-August, where she’ll get to see the campus for the first time. There typically is a short fall season for baseball and softball at that level, while the main season takes place in the spring.

“I’m really excited,” Vozick said. “I’m excited to play and compete at that level and meet those new girls and coaches and just gain all those new experiences.”

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Keith Howie named head coach of Aspen High School’s varsity hockey team

From his roots in Canada to the hallowed halls of Cornell University and finally to the Roaring Fork Valley, hockey has long shaped Keith Howie’s life. Next, he’ll look to take those experiences and share them with the Aspen High School hockey team as its next head coach.

“I’ve always really enjoyed coaching in the mountains, and especially coaching in Aspen,” the 55-year-old Howie told The Aspen Times. “I’m the old guy on the block, but with age comes experience. I’m able to bring a lot of experience. I’ve seen a lot of hockey, I’ve played a lot of hockey, and I’ve seen it both at high levels.”

AHS athletic director Martha Richards recently chose Howie to replace Dru Lucchesi, who resigned to pursue a career opportunity not related to coaching. Lucchesi had been the Skiers’ head coach since the 2014-15 season; their best run came during the 2017-18 season when AHS finished 14-5-3 overall and advanced to the state quarterfinals.

“We are delighted to have Keith become our varsity head coach,” Richards said in a news release. “He brings a wealth of expertise and experience in coaching hockey at all levels, and will do a great job of bringing our varsity and JV teams together as an entire program.”

Howie has been a coach in the area for nearly two decades, working primarily with the Aspen Junior Hockey program. In recent years, he’s worked alongside Kirk Golden with the AJH single-A and AA girls teams, which included Howie’s daughter, Charlotte, a 2020 AHS graduate. The single-A team won its third straight state championship this past season, while the AA teams have been a consistent presence in national tournaments.

Along with coaching the girls, Howie has helped out with the high school program. He spent three years as a volunteer assistant under Lucchesi, focusing on game analysis, and this past season was an assistant with the junior varsity team alongside JV head coach Lindsey Holmbeck. Holmbeck and Johno McBride have already been added to the varsity coaching staff for the 2020-21 season.

“Being the parent, I would have loved if Charlotte had another year to play hockey and lacrosse, but she’s going away next year, so the timing was good,” Howie said of taking over the AHS program. Charlotte will play lacrosse at Bowdoin College in Maine next season. “I’m going to put my energies into this program, so I don’t think I’ll be coaching the girls. But you never know. I may make some surprise appearances.”

Keith Howie grew up in Quebec and played four years of hockey at Cornell. Needing something to do as he finished up his degree after his playing eligibility ran dry, Howie jumped right into coaching. He started off as a co-coach with the men’s junior varsity program at Cornell and was an assistant with the women’s varsity program. He spent one season as the women’s head coach, leading them to the Ivy League championship in 1990.

From there he left Cornell for New York City to pursue his main career path as an architect. Not long after, he found his way to the valley, where he’s been since. He currently works for Poss Architecture in Aspen.

Howie takes over an AHS team coming off one of its worst seasons in program history in terms of record, having finished 3-11-4 overall. The Skiers still snuck into the 24-team state tournament as the No. 23 seed, losing to No. 10 Ralston Valley in the first round, 6-1.

AHS hockey won its lone state championship in 2007.

“It might be a little bit of a rebuilding year, but I’m cautiously optimistic about our talent level,” said Howie, who hopes to get players on the ice this summer if coronavirus-related restrictions allow it. “We’ll be a competitive team.”

The hockey landscape will look different this coming winter as the Colorado High School Activities Association recently approved a move to split the sport into two classifications for the first time. There will be 20 teams in Class 5A, while Aspen will be one of 17 in Class 4A.

Parity had become a major issue for high school hockey over recent years, with larger programs such as Regis Jesuit, Cherry Creek, Ralston Valley and Valor Christian dominating at the state level. Since Aspen’s title in 2007, those four schools alone have combined to win all but three of the state championships. Each of those programs will compete in 5A, which will open a lot of possibilities for the 4A schools to win hardware.

“It’s going to even the playing field and I think it’s going to be some really competitive leagues, which I think is great,” Howie said of the new classifications. “If you can make the leagues more competitive and make it a better experience for everyone, it’s a win-win.”

acolbert@aspentimes.com

AHS senior male co-athletes of the year: Jon Woodrow and Aidan Ledingham

Whether it was football or basketball, it was near impossible to mention Jon Woodrow without also bringing up Aidan Ledingham. The senior duo was quite the 1-2 punch for Aspen High School this past year, both because of their actual play as well as their leadership in between.

Their success has led them to being named the AHS senior male co-athletes of the year, an award handed out annually and chosen by the high school athletic director and The Aspen Times sports editor.

“I was very proud of both of those two. They exemplified all the stuff we try to make special about athletics at that level,” AHS boys basketball coach Alex Schrempf said. “They committed. They cared. They represented themselves and the guys that they represented constantly with integrity. They are great teammates. They were always team first before self and it was obvious from Day 1.”

In normal years it would have gone to a single male athlete and be presented at the senior sports banquet, but the novel coronavirus pandemic canceled that event, as well as the entire spring sports season. For this reason, AHS athletic director Martha Richards made the pitch to award two per gender for the 2019-20 school year, which were handed out by AHS principal Tharyn Mulberry at the school’s drive-thru scholarship ceremony on May 28.

Maeve McGuire and Charlotte Howie were named the senior female co-athletes of the year.

“It was awesome. I didn’t expect it at all,” Ledingham said of the award. “It was amazing. And to share that with Jonathan, we have that lifelong bond together, which is really cool to have. It’s just cool to be recognized for all the hard work I did in high school.”

Ledingham was a crucial part of the AHS football team’s lines throughout his career, while Woodrow did a little bit of everything, from running back to receiver to linebacker. Both players brought up the same game as their favorite football memory, that being a 20-19 stunner of an upset at mighty Rifle in 2018, when they were juniors.

“That was an incredible feeling with all my friends. It was just a battle the whole game and all muddy at the end,” said Ledingham, who also pointed out the team’s 2017 playoff loss at The Classical Academy, Aspen’s first playoff appearance since 2013.

This entire past season stood out in basketball, where Woodrow and Ledingham were the senior leaders on a starting group that had three underclassmen on it by the end of the season. AHS made the state tournament for the first time since 2014 this past winter, falling to DSST: Byers in the first round.

Despite missing a good chunk of the season because of injury, Woodrow still managed to lead the team in points per game (12.8) and rebounds (9.2), according to MaxPreps. Ledingham was third in scoring and second in rebounding per game.

“We talked to each other right after and were joking about it. We thought it was fun,” Woodrow said of sharing the award with Ledingham. “It’s kind of strange, but the most memorable moments aren’t necessarily on the field but being with the team.”

Neither player did much athletically in the spring. Woodrow had ran track in the past, but didn’t plan on taking part this year, even had the season not been canceled due to coronavirus. Ledingham played one season of baseball in high school.

And going forward, neither will play sports outside of intramurals and possible club teams. For Woodrow, he’s going to follow in his family footsteps and attend Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He’s been admitted to the business school and tentatively has entrepreneurship and finance in mind as a major.

“I kind of drank the family Kool-Aid. My mom and two of my sisters also went there,” Woodrow said, pointing out his father went to Texas Tech and a lot of his family is from the Houston area. “Just following the trend. But it’s an awesome school, so I’m super, super excited.”

Ledingham will attend New York’s Pace University, which is located on the tip of Manhattan next to the Brooklyn Bridge. Like his father, he plans to pursue a career in acting. Ledingham also has musical talents, as he showed off with his pre-recorded solo shown during the AHS graduation ceremony at Buttermilk.

“I always talked about being an actor, being a movie star,” Ledingham said. “It’s just something I’ve adored my whole life and I wanted to give it a shot because that’s my biggest passion.”

acolbert@aspentimes.com