Rifle High School welcomes one of its own as the Bears’ newest athletics director
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
There’s no better time than now to focus on what truly matters.
“I think with anything like this — and I try to have this attitude my whole life — is that you always have two options,” Chris Bomba said. “You can either let it beat you down and keep you down, or you can find the positives in it and try to drive the right direction.”
“What’s positive right now? We have basketball and we have wrestling,” he added. “There are states out there that are canceling.”
Bomba, a former Western State (now Western Colorado University) thrower originally from Moffat County, started this week as Rifle High School’s new athletics director, taking over for Damon Wells. He’s now at the helm of helping to navigate Garfield District Re-2 sports through some of the most unique circumstances known to modern-day athletics in Colorado.
If there’s an activities administrator out there in the U.S. who isn’t inundated with meetings with fellow athletic directors, state officials on yet another COVID-19 update or season schedule tweaks, they’re probably not doing their job.
But the 42-year-old Rifle High School head track coach and science teacher maintains a positive outlook, not just toward his new role as athletics director, but for the students recently given the opportunity to enjoy their last hurrah before graduating.
Jan. 18 — the first official practice day of Season B sports across the state — couldn’t come any sooner.
“I lived through track last year when it got canceled,” Bomba said. “For the seniors, that was their last chance at state. And the crying? That was so hard. So for us to be able to have a season … I’m beside myself.
Bomba’s story takes place just about 90 miles up the road, in Craig. It was then, growing up a Bulldog, he was instilled with the inspiration to pursue a life of physical competition.
“I had a teacher in middle school that told me I needed to stick with sports,” he said. “It was one of the best things anybody could tell me. Sports have just been a mainstay in myself because of the positive things that I’ve gotten out of it.”
A 1997 graduate of Moffat County High School, Bomba would spend his time in high school learning to overcome adversity in varsity Bulldogs track and football.
“We had great coaches, we had great teammates at that time” he said. “We pushed ourselves to be the best. And if you weren’t — if you were slacking? It wasn’t like people were jerks about it, they were just like, C’mon, man … let’s go.’
“We built ourselves up and worked our tails off to do the things we did.”
Bomba went on to represent Moffat County for Western State, throwing two years for the Mountaineers. But it was right after graduation when he got his first taste of coaching.
Bomba said he’d coach two years at Western before deciding the $2,000-a-year paycheck wasn’t going to cut it, so he took up a full-time position in Cedaredge, coaching middle school basketball and football. He also helped coach high school track and football.
Then, around 2010, Bomba moved to Garfield County, where he began teaching at Rifle Middle School. He’d also start coaching volleyball, basketball and football.
And, for the past five years, Bomba has been head coach of Rifle High School track and field.
Rifle High School Principal John Arledge said he was excited to announce Bomba’s new position as athletic director.
“Chris comes to us with experience as a successful head track coach and someone that has experience at both the middle and high school level athletics,” he recently wrote to RHS staff. “Chris was a college track athlete at Western State and was also a successful high school athlete coming from Moffat County.
Arledge also described Bomba as an outstanding science teacher who had served as a special education teacher at the Rifle Middle School.
“We are lucky to have such a qualified candidate that was here internally, and it is our hope that RHS welcomes Chris in his new capacity,” Arledge wrote.
Bomba said such an undertaking during such weird times is something he’s ready for; that the challenges ahead will be tough now, but will make life a lot easier in the future.
“I think it’s going to make me — for me, personally — a stronger person,” he said. “And I think it’s gonna make our kids — even though they don’t see it yet — stronger. It’s going to be a great story and it’s going to be a great story for your kids later on in life.
“And next year, if it’s a normal year? Next year’s going to be easy.”
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A chance to play baseball with the boys her freshman and sophomore years paid dividends for Glenwood Springs High School senior Willow Stolley, who is now set to play softball at the collegiate level next fall at Agnes Scott.