Karson Pike takes over Aspen High football
The Aspen Times
Karson Pike, a Colorado native and career coach, will take over the Aspen High School football program.
Pike, currently the offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Iowa Western Community College, was named the new head coach for the Skiers after a national search process, according to AHS athletic director Jay Maher.
Pike, 30, also was selected for a physical education teaching job at the high school, with both positions subject to formal approval by the school board.
“When I was growing up, I always pictured myself as a high school coach and a teacher,” Pike said in a telephone interview from his offices at Iowa Western in Council Bluffs. “I had some opportunities (to coach) in college, and I learned a lot of football. But I still saw myself as a high school coach.”
Pike, who grew up in Golden, went on to play quarterback at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, Minnesota, leading the Raiders to their first winning season in more than a decade. They also won the Minnesota state junior college championship.
From there, PIke finished his undergraduate degree and playing career at St. Cloud State in Minnesota.
The football lifer went to graduate school at Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota, earning his master’s degree and learning defense.
“I worked with the defense there for two years,” Pike said, adding that the experience added to his previous offensive football background.
He coached in a powerhouse NCAA Division II league while at Bemidji State.
Family coaching connections then drew Pike to Iowa Western, where he first coached running backs before taking over this season as offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach.
Iowa Western, a junior college athletic powerhouse, owns recent national championships in football and baseball.
Pike played for coach Jim Strohmeier at Central Lakes College. He now works with brother Scott Strohmeier, the head coach at Iowa Western.
“I had always kept my eye on jobs back in Colorado,” Pike said. When the Aspen listing was posted, he said he was intrigued.
The Skiers went through a tumultuous season in 2015 when the head coach was suspended midway through the season, eventually resigning his position.
Assistant coach Chris Peshek took over and guided the Skiers through the end of the season.
Pike said he’s excited to get to Aspen and meet with the assistant coaches like Peshek.
“I’m really excited to meet the assistant coaches,” Pike said. “There are a million things on my mind right now. I want to be as prepared as possible when I meet with the players.”
“I’ll be … a PE teacher. I’ll be in the building,” Pike said. “I’ll be around the players.”
He said he wants to rebuild the tradition of Aspen High School football. He’s already had discussions with Rifle athletic department officials regarding summer 7-on-7 play.
“I’m excited to be a head coach,” Pike said. “There is no question, it’s my stamp on things now.”
He said he’s integrated elements from each of the influential coaches in his career, including his father.
As a prominent youth football coach, Pike’s father was a neighborhood institution — for all the kids.
“I remember thinking, a guy like this can have this much of an influence on me and my friends,” Pike said, “I thought I want to do that.
“Yes, football-wise, I think it was my father (who was the biggest influence),” said Pike. His father played college football and became a football mentor.
“I’ve had a lot of great mentors,” he said. In four college seasons, Pike and his teams have lost only four times.
He said his biggest adjustment likely will be in terms of numbers.
At the first fall workouts at Iowa Western, he said, there are 180 players on the practice field.
The numbers will be a bit more modest at Aspen High School.
But Pike said they hope to steadily build the football roster to 40, 50 and even 60 players in the program.
“Football is a sport I can’t give up,” Pike said.
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