EDWARDS — OK, he’s not related to Urban Meyer and he is a Cornhuskers fan.
Nonetheless, Kevin Meyer took over the Battle Mountain football head coaching job on Thursday in Edwards, meeting with administrators, players and parents in succession.
Meyer’s been coaching since 1983 and spent 21 of those years as a head coach or coordinator in Class A in Nebraska, the Colorado equivalent of 5A. His most recent stop was as the head coach of Waterloo East in Iowa.
“The location is something my wife and I and our family has always enjoyed,” Meyer said. “Obviously, this is smack-dab in the middle of the mountains and the most gorgeous area, a great location. That’s a big plus. I was interested in some other jobs in Colorado because of location. ... My wife and I have always wanted to live here. This was great opportunity to look into. My daughter’s graduating from high school this year, so it’s probably a pretty good time to do that.”
Like many of his predecessors, he likes being here. Like many of his predecessors, he faces the same challenges in Battle Mountain football. A woebegone program that’s had just one winning season and playoff appearance (2011, 9-2) during the past 20 years, Huskies football has problems in attracting numbers and talent and those factors turn into a recurring theme. Low numbers and talent means more losing and more losing means low interest in the team and more losing.
Boys soccer remains the flagship program, particularly during the fall, at the school while cross-country and winter sports also draw off talented athletes, who at other schools on the Western Slope would normally be playing football.
“I really believe No. 1 is building it up from the ground up,” Meyer said. “I am big on building on youth programs, through the junior high or middle school up to the high school. Before that though, you have to bring some enthusiasm. ... That alone will only last so long. The meat and potatoes of it is that you’ve got to establish a work ethic, and that doesn’t happen overnight. My philosophy is about fundamentals and teaching kids to do the little things right, to work toward playing for each other. There’s a lot that goes into that. The biggest thing is that I’m big on building things from the ground up.”
Battle Mountain, after consecutive 0-10 seasons, is moving down to the 2A Slope for the next two-year CHSAA cycle in an attempt to build numbers and success. This past fall was particularly brutal within the 3A Slope with the exception of a relatively close game at Steamboat Springs, a 27-13 loss.
However, the school and its fan base believe it can be done because the Huskies did have one glowing season of success in 2011 under former coach David Joyce. The problem, for Battle Mountain, was that Joyce moved to 5A Doherty, where the Spartans went 8-3 and made the second round of the playoffs this past fall after four seasons of 6-34 football.
“The location is a big, big asset. I think that is a major factor on staying at this school,” Meyer said. “After that, it’s about trying to get things turned around. This will be my 31st year coaching. I’ve coached at the highest level (in Nebraska) for 21 years. I don’t need that type of a job. I like this size of a school. But I think people are hungry to have a good football program. I appreciate what everyone has done in the past, but my whole focus is not what’s been happening positive or negative, but looking what we can do and trying to build it again from youth program up. We’ve got to get kids out. Football’s a numbers game.”
Meyer will finish the school year out in Iowa. He said he will return to Edwards during his school’s spring break to start the necessary organization. He expects to be in the area on a permanent basis during the second week of June.
“I’m also real big on strength and conditioning. That goes hand and hand,” Meyer said. “I also believe in the multi-sport athlete. We’re not going to be big enough here to do well in a lot of sports if we don’t share athletes. But I think changing the culture, it’s about working hard and developing a great group of kids. ... It’s about investment. If kids don’t invest much, losing isn’t going to hurt much and winning isn’t going to be very exciting. There has to be an investment. It can’t just be from the coaches. It’s gotta be players, coaches, parents, administration and the community.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 and email@example.com.