Aspen football coach Mike Sirko to step down
The Aspen Times
Aspen High School football coach Mike Sirko is hanging up his whistle.
Sirko, who directed the Skiers to seven consecutive state playoff appearances in his seven years at AHS, said he is submitting his resignation this week.
“I want to thank all my coaches and players here,” Sirko said Wednesday in an interview with The Aspen Times. “This wouldn’t have been possible without their contributions.”
He specifically thanked Reuben Burbach, his son-in-law and defensive coordinator, and son Nick Sirko, also a longtime assistant coach in the Aspen program.
Sirko said he’s ready to step away from the demands of running a high school football program — something he’s done as a head coach for the last 34 years.
He said there are four main reasons for a change — Payton, Riley, Quinnley and Charlotte — his granddaughters.
And, he said, there are three primary reasons — Erin, Kristen and Nick — his children.
Plus, Sirko said, there’s another reason — wife Diana Sirko.
“I want to thank her for her support. … I want to thank her for helping me,” Sirko said, looking back on a tumultuous period when he first took over as the Aspen High School head coach in 2007.
With his wife as the superintendent of schools in Aspen, Sirko’s initial hiring was met with criticism and accusations of nepotism even though the hiring was done through the high school and not the superintendent’s office.
“There was a real black eye at first,” Sirko said. “For the first three months, there were letters to the editor every day (criticizing his hiring).”
But, Sirko said, the assistant coaches and the players jumped on board with the new program.
“So I need to thank her for her support and thank my family for their support,” said Sirko, who won 50 games in seven seasons in Aspen. “We had seven straight winning seasons here.”
Dr. Diana Sirko, after a stint with the Colorado Department of Eduction, now is superintendent of the Roaring Fork School District.
Before coach Sirko, Aspen’s last winning season in football came in 1985. The Skiers’ last playoff appearance, before Sirko, came in 1974.
The first team coached by Sirko posted a winning record.
“After that first game (a win over Battle Mountain), it snowballed,” Sirko said.
One year later, the Skiers won their first playoff game in 40 years.
Sirko, in fact, has posted 17 consecutive winning seasons at three different Colorado high school programs — Aspen, Doherty and Rampart.
His 1998 team at Rampart High School in Colorado Springs went 14-0 and won the state championship — the last Colorado Springs school to win a state football championship.
Sirko also is a member of the exclusive 200 club — Colorado high school football coaches with 200 victories. Sirko compiled 237 prep victories in Colorado, starting with his days at Montrose and Hotchkiss.
He ranks sixth all-time in Colorado high school football wins.
A native of football-crazed western Pennsylvania, Sirko grew up in an area that produced the likes of Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Ty Law and Darrelle Revis, among others.
Recruited as an offensive/defensive lineman by Western State College in Gunnison, Sirko moved west to play football for the Mountaineers (a 1970s powerhouse in small college football).
“And I never left Colorado,” Sirko said with his trademark roar of a laugh.
“I’m really happy with what we’ve done here in Aspen,” Sirko said. “And we did it with solid coaching and teaching.”
Aspen High School Athletic Director Carol Sams said the school will begin a search for a new head coach as soon as Sirko’s resignation paperwork arrives.
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Over Halloween weekend, Aspen High School will play host to a New Balance “powered” basketball camp for third graders through high school. The two-day affair is being put on by Kevin Washington, a national trainer and skills developer.