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Aspen reinstates basketball coach

John Colson and Nate Peterson
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times
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Aspen High School varsity basketball coach Steve Ketchum was back on the job Wednesday, after an investigation into a confrontation with one of his players that got a little physical.”Coach Steve Ketchum has returned from leave to his position as teacher and coach,” superintendent Diana Sirko announced in a statement Wednesday, after looking into the episode.”Specific steps have been enacted to address the issues and concerns identified,” the statement continued. “All will be re-evaluated at the conclusion of the season. We wish the players much success as they continue through their season!”Sirko declined to comment further on the matter, other than to explain that Ketchum is not on any formal kind of probation, and to note that “all coaching assignments are one-season agreements.”

The district’s athletic director, Carol Sams, could not be reached for comment on the matter.According to one Aspen player, Ketchum and team captain Luke Gosda got into a dispute about a specific drill during a practice on Wednesday, Jan. 18, which resulted in Ketchum ordering Gosda off the court.Senior Tucker Helmus, who was at the practice that day, recalled that Gosda and Ketchum disagreed on a drill in practice, and that “Ketchum came out yelling … ” and told Gosda to leave the court.As for the allegation that Ketchum shoved Gosda to get him to hurry faster off the court, Helmus said, “There was a little push. I wouldn’t say it was a violent push, but there was a push to get [Gosda] out of the gym.”

Ketchum reportedly apologized to Gosda, the Gosda family and the team the next day, and the matter was “worked out,” according to Luke’s father, Dirk Gosda, an assistant coach who took on head coaching duties while Ketchum was on suspension.Nonetheless, Sirko placed Ketchum on administrative leave at the end of last week, barring him from either coaching the team or teaching his classes. Dirk Gosda stayed in touch with Ketchum during the suspension.”We still coordinated practices, coordinated what we wanted the kids to do, game strategy for Basalt, game strategy for Gunnison.”The Skiers lost both games, although Ketchum credited Gosda and the assistant coaching staff with doing “a fantastic job in my absence.”

Both the coaches and the players said they are glad Ketchum is back.”I’m happy with Steve back. Steve’s a great coach,” Dirk Gosda said. “There’s always things we can all work on. But Steve has phenomenal knowledge of basketball. I think a lot of the boys here know that. When Steve was gone, it was like a ship without its captain. We did the best we could, but it wasn’t the same. The kids are happy that he’s back and we can get back to work.””We didn’t really know what was going to happen with him [Ketchum],” Helmus added. “We had to trust the other coaches, who we have a lot of respect for, and who know a lot about the game, but they just don’t have the experience that Ketchum has. It’s really good to have someone with as much experience as him back.”John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com


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