Glenwood basketball coach Cory Hitchcock resigns for college post | AspenTimes.com

Glenwood basketball coach Cory Hitchcock resigns for college post

Josh Carney
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Glenwood head coach Cory Hitchcock and reserve players watch on as the Demons go on to defeat the Rifle Bears during a game at Rifle High School.

After nine seasons at the helm of Glenwood Springs High School’s boys basketball program, Cory Hitchcock is moving on to take the helm at NAIA University of the Southwest in Hobbs, New Mexico.

Hitchcock, who led Glenwood to four 4A Western Slope League championships, eight consecutive state tournaments and three coach of the year honors, heads to a Mustang program that has struggled in recent years, going just 4-23 last season.

The veteran head coach said the job offer came by chance, not him actively seeking out another job.

“The first week of August, I received a text from Southwest’s athletic director asking if I’d be interested in taking over the women’s program,” Hitchcock said. “I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t apply for the job at all; they reached out to me on a recommendation to the athletic director.

“It was a very hard decision leaving the boys; it’s one I pondered for quite a long time after receiving the offer.”

Hitchcock held a team meeting Tuesday afternoon at Glenwood Springs High School to break the news to his players.

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“It was very hard to meet with the boys yesterday,” Hitchcock said. “Most of them get the decision and understand it, but it’s still very hard to come to grips with right now.

“I’m very appreciative of the boys, and I’ve preached that you have to do what’s best for you and your family in all situations,” he added. “With this one, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity because I wouldn’t be practicing what I’ve been preaching.”

Had he not been recruited for the collegiate-level coaching position, Hitchcock indicated he would have been right there on the Demons’ sideline.

“I’m not the type of person to go out searching for jobs,” he said. “I loved my time here in Glenwood, and I developed great relationships with my players. It was truly a privilege to be their coach and represent Glenwood.”

During his time in Glenwood, Hitchcock went 114-78, including 19-5 (12-0 4A WSL) during the 2017-18 season in which the Demons won the league and hosted a first-round 4A state playoff game.

“I’m very excited for Cory, Pam and the kids,” said Craig Denney, Glenwood’s athletic director. “I know he’s wanted to get to that level and be in the position of head coach. As his friend, I think it’s fantastic that he’s going to get to do it. As his boss, I’m bummed. He’s such an integral part of this school, and the relationships he’s created with the kids over the last nine years have been phenomenal.

“That will be missed in a huge way,” he added. “Obviously, the boys are devastated; there’s no other way to put that. I don’t believe in people being irreplaceable, but if there’s anyone that’s close to being irreplaceable, it’s Cory.”

Hitchcock not only changes levels from high school to college, he makes the transition from boys basketball to women’s basketball. At its core, it’s still the game of basketball, but the recruiting and being a full-time head coach is going to take some time to adjust to for Hitchcock.

It’s an adjustment period he’s looking forward to.

“I’m a basketball coach first, more than anything,” Hitchcock said. “That’s been my passion since day one when I started coaching at Grand Canyon University. I always wanted to get back to being just a coach.”

He said the biggest adjustment within the game is going to be four, 10-minute quarters with a shot clock.

“I’m excited for a shot clock,” he said. “I think Colorado high school basketball needs a shot clock, because without a shot clock it’s a disservice to the game.”

A tall task stands in front of Hitchcock at Southwest, where the Mustangs allowed more than 80 points per game last season, winning just three conference games in the Red River Athletic Conference. Hitchcock’s Glenwood teams have prided themselves on shutdown defense and a quick-tempo offense, leading to major success in recent years. Now, he’ll try and implement that into the Mustangs’ gameplan.

“I’m not really going to change too much,” Hitchcock said. “I met with the girls when I took a visit down there earlier in the month and I told them we’re going to be a tough, hard-nosed defense and run-and-gun offense. In all my years of coaching, I’ve been a defensive-minded coach first. That won’t change.

“We’re trying to change the culture with the women’s side, getting them to believe in themselves again,” Hitchcock added. “We have to be committed to the daily grind. That’s what I think the boys were great at out here. They bought into that, worked their tails off and were very successful.”

Hitchcock will start his new job with the Mustangs on Sept. 17, jumping right into his first practice session as the new head coach of the program.

“This is a good opportunity for me to step away and be a full-time head coach,” Hitchcock said. “That was very intriguing. It’s the right time for my kids, too. I didn’t want them to get into elementary school and then move later. They’re young enough now where we can pick up and move and not affect their schooling.

“This was too good of an opportunity to pass up,” he added. “I have a chance to turn around a program that’s been struggling the last couple of years. It’s a big basketball town. That’s a unique benefit for me. But it’s hard to leave these boys. They’ve done everything I’ve ever asked of them. I told them I’ll always be a phone call or a text away.”

Glenwood High has posted the job opening of boys head basketball coach and assistant athletic director on the school’s website. Denney said that there’s no time table on hiring a new coach as they’re still in the process of figuring out how to move forward.

jcarney@postindependent.com