Zehring named new athletic director
Vail CO, Colorado
GYPSUM ” Before Cliff Zehring hits his busy season, he can rest easy for a while.
After all, Zehring has a head start on his new job.
Last month, Eagle Valley high school tapped Zehring to be the new athletic director. Zehring, like his predecessor, the recently-retired Dave Scott, enters the job with almost two decades under his belt at Eagle Valley.
“He knows the kids, most of the coaching staff and the administration,” Scott said of Zehring. “That’s going to help him out.”
Zehring, who just finished his 17th year as a math teacher and coach at Eagle Valley, was the only internal candidate out of the final three interviewed for the job.
“He already has that (community) connection,” said Eagle Valley assistant principal Eric Mandeville, who was on the committee picking the new athletic director. “What is more valuable? Having a stake in the community and the building or knowing how an athletic directorship works? I believe it’s those relationships.
“To build those relationships takes time and for people to trust you and know who you are takes time.”
And it’s not as if Zehring, who is deep-rooted in the area, is entering the job without all the tools to do the job. Zehring, who earned an undergraduate degree in Math Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, went back to school in 1999 at Adams State for his masters in Education Administration.
“I wanted to become an athletic director,” Zehring said. “I’ve always had the desire to lead, and I got some good support from former principals who said I would be a good leader of a program.”
Zehring knows plenty about athletics at Eagle Valley. In his first year, Zehring came on as an assistant to the football team under John Ramunno, and helped out Scott with JV basketball. After a break in coaching to get his masters degree, Zehring was back on the field and court in 2005. And Zehring’s family is also a part of the school, as he has a son who will be a sophomore, a daughter who will be in seventh grade and a son who graduated from Eagle Valley.
While having a strong coaching background is a large asset Zehring brings to the table, his math-oriented mind (Zehring teaches algebra, trigonometry and calculus) may be equally helpful.
“I’ve worked with him for a while,” Mandeville said. “He’s very organized and will be a great scheduler. He’s done a variety of different schedules for us before. Principals before Mark (Strakbein) have always gone to him for that. Just to see the picture and put the pieces together is huge, because it’s a big puzzle ” making sure all the fields are ready, when games are scheduled and having officials.”
Scott, who served as athletic director for eight years, knows how the move from teaching to administration changes responsibilities.
“(Cliff) has put in his time, and now he’s going go get ready to really put in his time,” Scott said. “That’s one of the hard parts of the job ” the time commitment. You start at 7:30 a.m., do you stuff and all of a sudden everyone else is leaving at 3:30 p.m., and you’re still here until 9:30 p.m. most nights. You live for July. That’s your time when you don’t have to worry about things.”
But in June, the planning for fall starts, and picks back up again early in August before kids hits the field in the middle of the month.
Zehring is ready for the challenge, although he’s sure he’ll miss some of the more intimate parts of coaching come fall.
“I gave up coaching football in 2000,” Zehring said, referring to when he went to get his masters degree. “And the biggest thing I told people ” I really missed the relationships with the kids on the football team. The camaraderie ” being with them for 14 straight weeks and learning a lot more about them.
“Being able to coach and be on the sidelines and be part of the gameplan and understand the situation ” things like that.”
One thing Zehring hopes he’ll be able to continue as athletic director is the relationship he’s had with everyone.
“The biggest thing is going to be communication with the athletes, parents and community,” Zehring said. “Just to be able to have that open mind and keeping it so everybody is always informed as to what’s going on.”
One of Zehring’s goals is to provide a comfortable and competitive environment in which any kids can compete.
“There are some kids who don’t feel they can participate, and they need to have the feeling that it’s an equal opportunity for everyone on that playing field, and you’ve just gotta give it your best shot,” Zehring said. “Become involved in anything, any activity, from athletics to music to clubs. If you stay active, you’re going to have a wonderful high school career and you’ll have a lot of memories.”
A challenge Zehring hopes to meet is keeping athletics on par with the school’s growth.
“We want to upgrade our facilities,” Zehring said. “They were built when we were a 1A school, now we’re a 3A school in football and a 4A school in all other sports. That’s going to be a focus for me: How can we upgrade our facilities so we are up there with the Palisades and Steamboats of the world.”
If Zehring’s success as a teacher and coach are any indication as to how he’ll be as an athletic director will be leaving kids with fond high school experiences.
“It’s fun to talk to alumni and see who some of their favorite teachers are,” Mandeville said. “It’s Cliff.”
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.
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