Jason Santo named new athletic director at Basalt High School
Jason Santo is no stranger to the Roaring Fork Valley, which is partly what made it easy for him to jump on board when he was offered the position of athletic director at Basalt High School.
Santo, 42, was hired earlier this summer to become the new Longhorn AD after Sean Nunan resigned and relocated to the Front Range. Nunan had been Basalt’s athletic director since taking over in 2016.
“While we are sad to be leaving, we are really excited to be in the valley and taking on a new challenge,” Santo told The Aspen Times on Wednesday. “Basalt is a great landing spot because we know it. We are excited.”
Santo is coming to Basalt from Geneva, Illinois, which is about 45 minutes directly west of Chicago. He’s been a teacher at Geneva High School since 2011, where he taught a mix of television and print journalism, and for the past three years has been one of the school’s assistant athletic directors.
He’s bringing with him his wife, who will also work in the Roaring Fork School District as a social worker, and three children. He has a 5-year-old son and two daughters, ages 10 and 1.
“It just felt like a huge benefit to our whole school district to have he and his wife here,” BHS principal Peter Mueller said. “He is passionate about sports, but most importantly passionate about teaching and students. He came highly recommended from his school.”
Santo grew up in Detroit and studied journalism at Marquette University in Milwaukee. He began his career as a sports reporter and television anchor in Michigan before he transitioned into education after working with some local high school students.
His connection to the Roaring Fork Valley goes back to when he was 5 and would come here to vacation with his family. His parents own a property in Basalt where they live a couple of months out of the year when they are not in Florida, and his brother, Michael, is a longtime resident of Grand Junction, where he is a partner at a law firm.
Santo said he looks forward to living in Basalt and embracing the small-town lifestyle. His also looks forward to working at a school that has an enrollment of less than 500, compared to the roughly 2,000 students who attend Geneva.
“I’m going to get to know all these kids and all the coaches,” Santo said, “and I’ve been talking to coaches this week and just getting a sense of their programs for the fall and what to expect. In talking to them, the numbers are strong and I’m super excited about that.”
Santo plans to be in the valley by the end of July. As of Wednesday, he was still back in Illinois planning and saying goodbyes before making the trek west. Fall sports practices officially get underway Aug. 12, while the first day of school is Aug. 19.
“This is going to be a great adventure to be in Basalt,” Santo said. “I want to be able to be around students who love being on the field, see it as an extension of the classroom, but at the same time I want to make sure we are building the programs to be sustainable and to let the kids know we are going to be competitive.”
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The new podcast “Origin Stories,” premiering on Mother’s Day, recounts stories by Roaring Fork Valley women about motherhood, birth and rebirth.