Aspen High School shuffles basketball lineup | AspenTimes.com

Aspen High School shuffles basketball lineup

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

The Aspen Skiers are doing the basketball shuffle.

The Aspen High School athletic department has announced the lineup of new head basketball coaches – familiar faces in new positions.

Rolf Schildman, formerly the head girls coach, will take over the AHS boys program.

Debbie Alcorta, formerly the leader of the Basalt High School girls program, will take over the Aspen girls program, where she was a freshman coach last season.

"When I came in, they had already interviewed some candidates, but they gave me the final decision," said John Bangley, who took over as Aspen High's athletic director last month. "I talked to a lot of people, talked to coaches."

He also considered a unique opportunity, he said, as he evaluated the programs and the possibilities.

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"Debbie Alcorta actually was a candidate for the boys job," Bangley said of the coach who had led the Basalt girls teams into regular postseason appearances. And a finalist for the boys head coaching position in Aspen that came open after longtime head coach Steve Ketchum stepped down last year after 16 seasons.

But Bangley also had a candidate in Schildman for the boys job.

"I talked with Debbie. She talked with her son," Bangley said. Dominick Alcorta is a senior and returning starter from the Aspen boys team that advanced to the Class 3A Regionals in Brush last season.

"She talked with everyone to make sure it was the right family move," said Bangley, who opted for Alcorta to take over the struggling girls program.

Schildman will lead the Aspen boys.

Schildman had coached the Basalt boys into the playoffs two years ago before taking a teaching position in Aspen as well as the Aspen girls basketball job.

"I really think Debbie can make a difference with our girls basketball team," Bangley said. "She can build from the ground up. She knows how to do that."

He said Schildman brings coaching experience and extensive experience as a college player to the Aspen boys program.

"He's been around the building. The kids know him. I know Rolf had a good (run) in Basalt. He got that team … to excel," Bangley said. "And I know that Debbie has a strong background in coaching. I think the end results will be great for both programs."

Bangley, a lifetime coach and educator, took over for longtime Aspen High School athletic director Carol Sams, who is now the AD at Grand Junction High School.

Bangley is only the fifth athletic director at Aspen High School since the modern era of CHSAA athletics. He joins Sams, Dave Conarroe, Bonnie Maddalone and Pete DeGregorio as Aspen ADs since the 1960s.

He came to Aspen after spending the last 10 years in Kissimmee, Florida, where he was athletic director at a high school near DisneyWorld.

He also formerly worked in Winter Haven, Florida.

A college football quarterback with two national titles at Elon University in North Carolina, Bangley coached and taught history after college. He was born and raised in southeast Virginia.

He coached football, baseball, softball and track before moving into athletic administration.

He said he was excited when the opportunity arose to work at Aspen High School.

"This school is a special place; this community is a special place," Bangley said.

Rolf Schildman, AHS boys

"I'm looking forward to it," Schildman said of his move from the AHS girls to the AHS boys.

He had taken a teaching job in Aspen last year and also took over the AHS girls basketball program.

Previously, he had coached the Basalt boys into the state playoffs.

"Then, I got the opportunity to teach in Aspen," he said. "Last year was my first year coaching girls.We had a lot of fun."

A rebuilding job had him back to basics after leading a veteran Basalt team into the regionals.

"We had some great seniors on that team," he said, adding that he was excited about the AHS boys program.

Schildman, who grew up near Springfield, Illinois, went on to play junior college basketball. Then he moved up to NCAA Division II in Savannah, Georgia, before finishing his college career in Division III.

"I had three different college coaches," said Schildman, who grew up with the sport.

And he brings a bit of all of his former coaches into his program.

"I never thought this would happen, but I'm very happy about it," he said, paying tribute to the Aspen boys program Ketchum built over the last decade and a half in Aspen. "What can I say about Steve. He's a great coach. He's run a great program. I'm really walking into a good situation."

Schildman also is looking to fill out his coaching staff. Candidates for assistant coach are invited to contact Schildman at Aspen High School.

Debbie Alcorta, AHS girls

"I love this game," said Alcorta, who will lead the Aspen girls program. "I'm very excited about the opportunity."

Alcorta, who had coached the Basalt girls into the state playoffs with regularity during her seven-year stint there, is more than happy to return to a head coaching position.

"Of course, I wanted that boys position. But this will be OK," she said of the coaching shuffle that sent Schildman to the boys program.

She said she's pleased to be in and around the gym for her son Dominick's senior season. He's a returning starter from the Aspen boys team that advanced to the Class 3A Regionals in Brush last year.

Alcorta said she will take the same approach in Aspen that she used to build the Longhorns into a 3A power player a decade ago.

"There is no secret. I'm a defensive, defensive coach all the way," Alcorta said enthusiastically. "We will be a defensive-focused team."

Defense, in turn, will trigger the offense, she said.

"When you force a turnover, immediately you have the advantage," she said. "We will work on defensive fundamentals … forcing turnovers."

She said the players have to learn to play coordinated defense that will lead to spontaneous, but coordinated offense.

"I equate the situation to where you play without a play," Alcorta said, even more enthusiastically. "After a great defensive play, you … take advantage. You play without a (set) play. You know what to do."

A decade ago, Alcorta was part of the coaching sorority that set the tone for girls basketball in Colorado with defensive focus and pressure, especially at the 3A and 2A levels.

"I'm going to teach what I know," said Alcorta, a four-year starter at Wilcox High School in Nebraska. A product of a supportive and competitive athletic family, Alcorta played all sports in high school before playing basketball at Hastings College in Nebraska.

When she moved to the valley, she started coaching girls basketball in Basalt from the elementary school on up.

"In Aspen, it will be back to the basic fundamentals," Alcorta said. "We'll build from the ground up."

dstrode@aspentimes.com