Chris Woods is 3A coach of the year |

Chris Woods is 3A coach of the year

Jon Maletz
Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT ” Outgoing Basalt girls soccer coach Chris Woods called it a sympathy vote.

More likely, the numbers were too striking to ignore.

The five-time 3A Western Slope coach of the year, who guided the Longhorns to league crowns in all five of his seasons on the bench (they’ve now won 11 straight titles), was recently named 3A coach of the year.

Woods admitted Wednesday that the news caught him off guard.

“It’s flattering,” he added. “Hopefully they noticed what Basalt’s been doing. They probably said ‘It’s going good, so he must be doing something right.'”

Woods wasn’t the only member of the program to earn the postseason’s top honors. Two-time league MVP Kat Fitzpatrick capped off her four years in purple and white with a second-consecutive All-State first-team selection.

Junior Melissa Stewart and freshman Annette Stenstadvold, the only other Slope players to garner recognition, were honorable mentions.

“I was hoping to get it again, but I wasn’t quite sure if I would,” Fitzpatrick said Wednesday. “This is really a great way to end my career. I still have one more game to play.”

Before she heads to NAIA Rocky Mountain College in Montana, Fitzpatrick will line up in Aug. 2’s All-State game, which will feature the state’s best players from 5A, 4A and 3A.

The talented forward, who led the prolific Basalt attack with 21 goals and 13 assists, had little trouble fitting in on the same stage in 2007 ” once she got over the jitters.

“I was really nervous last year. I was scared I was going to run into people and get plowed down,” she said. “I held my own with the 5A girls. I actually did a lot better than I thought.”

Fitzpatrick wound up scoring in the contest, firing a shot from far out that hooked into the net.

Woods remembers the goal. And if Fitzpatrick finds the net in August, he’ll be watching from the sideline. Woods will be one of the game’s coaches.

Such a reward has been a long time coming, Fitzpatrick said.

“It’s really well deserved ” he didn’t get as much recognition as he should have over the years,” she added. “We play in a little bit of a weaker league, but we’re still able to play with some of the metro teams. That takes strong coaching.”

“It’s a spectacle and it’ll be fun,” Woods added. “It’s crazy to think that, in my last season, I’d be going down to coach an all-star game.”

Woods came to the Roaring Fork Valley from Australia in 1999 to work as a children’s ski instructor at Snowmass and “escape reality for a while.” He soon had a chance meeting with former Basalt head coach Heather Walker. (She worked with one of Woods’ roommates.)

He began working with the team, serving as Walker’s assistant and JV coach for the 2001, 2002 and 2003 seasons. When Walker stepped aside in early 2004, Woods took the reigns.

In his five years at the helm, Woods led the Longhorns to five league titles and five postseason berths ” including a trip to the state semifinals in 2007. The current recreation program specialist at the Snowmass Recreation Center announced that he was stepping down in the moments after his team’s first-round playoff loss to Classical Academy on May 6.

“I learned more from him than ever before,” Fitzpatrick said in May. “It wasn’t just about soccer. It was about being able to have fun. I really grew to love the sport because of him. We’re all going to miss him.”

She doesn’t have to say goodbye just yet. Both she and Woods eagerly anticipate Aug. 2’s game.

Both are proud Basalt has garnered attention state-wide.

“This is what we’ve been building for so many years. They do know Basalt’s a powerhouse, and they respect us,” Woods said. “This is really an award [for both of us]. … Hopefully, they put us on the same team. If I coach against her, it’ll be pretty funny. I’ll have to try and devise a game plan to find her weaknesses.”

“We’ll see about that,” Fitzpatrick joked.