High Country Character: Gypsum resident Cliff Zehring
Gypsum CO, Colorado
GYPSUM, Colorado ” Cliff Zehring has seen a lot during his days at Eagle Valley High School, but nothing will ever top what happened during the 1995 football playoffs.
Zehring, then an assistant coach for the Devils, helped lead the team into the second round of the playoffs where they were matched up against Salida. Knowing the game would be tough, legendary Eagle Valley coach John Ramunno wanted to give his team a little extra motivation, but what happened before the game is still shocking to Zehring.
After delivering a fiery speech to his team, Ramunno pulled out a cow’s heart and launched it against a blackboard in the locker room. The unique tactic worked. Eagle Valley beat Salida, 30-27, in a back-and-forth game.
In the 15 years Zehring coached football, the Salida game is still one his fondest memories.
“I love football,” Zehring said. “Working with John Ramunno was just amazing. He’s a guy that is very organized. He can motivate kids like you can’t believe. He’s got that way with kids. He’s get them to give their best effort all the time on the football field.
Sometimes we didn’t have the best talent, but we had the ability to overcome that and make things happen on the football field. He’s been able to maximize the talent he’s worked with.”
Now, Zehring is in his second year as Eagle Valley’s athletic director. Before that, he taught math and coached for 17 years.
As a 1986, University of Nebraska graduate, it’s easy to see where Zehring gets his passion for sports. He attends nearly every Eagle Valley athletic event, and his job is to make sure everything runs smoothly. When not watching the Devils compete or cheering on his Huskers, he enjoys spending time with his three kids and his wife, Lori.
VD: Are you the Eagle Valley super-fan?
CZ: I don’t feel like I’m a super-fan because I have to keep the balance between being a fan and supervising, making sure everything runs smoothly. It’s something I love to do. I love to be around athletics. I love to be around high school athletics. It’s something I take pride in. I want to make sure these kids have the best opportunity, and the best experience for their high school athletics.
VD: What’s the best and worst part of your job?
CZ: The toughest part of my job is keeping the schedules and the bus schedules all in line. The best part of my job is seeing the kids compete and having success at all levels.
VD: How much has Eagle Valley changed since you arrived?
CZ: When I first came here, we had 250 kids. We were 2A in everything. Now we are up to 725 kids. We are 4A in everything but football. We’ve changed quite drastically since I’ve been here.
VD: How’s the construction going on Eagle Valley’s new gym?
CZ: It’s pretty time consuming. You have to keep on top of it sand know what’s going on. You make connections with the construction workers so they know what you want. It’s been a fun experience. I’ve learned a lot about how when you upgrade facilities, you have to be on top of things so you get it the way you want it.
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.
Family: Wife, Lori, 21-year-old son, Cory, 16-year-old son, Bryce and 13-year-old daughter, Ally
Originally hails from: Columbus, Nebraska
Hobbies: All kinds of sports, spending time with family