Clemenston resigns as Steamboat Springs football programs look to make changes
Steamboat Springs — Lonn Clementson’s decision to resign last week means that football players at Steamboat Springs High School will be greeted by a new face when they return to the gridiron next fall.
Clementson, who has coached the Sailors for the past seven seasons, made his intentions clear in a letter to Steamboat Springs High School Athletic Director Luke DeWolfe last Friday.
“After careful, heartfelt consideration, I am choosing to resign as Steamboat Springs High School head football coach effective today,” Clemenston wrote. “I am incredibly blessed and grateful to have had this opportunity and wish nothing but the greatest of success for the Sailor football program in the future.”
Clementson, who was 17-52 as the Sailors head coach, has spent much of his life inside the Steamboat Springs football program as a player and then coach. The Steamboat Springs native graduated from high school in 1985 and was named to the All-State team as a defensive back that same year. He went on to play the same position for Colorado College.
After college, Clementson returned home, spending 18 seasons as an assistant or head coach for the Sailors football program. He was the team’s defensive coordinator under Aaron Finch from 2004 to 2009 and stepped into the head coaching position after Finch’s departure in 2010.
Despite Clementson’s record as head coach, his enthusiasm for the school, the team, his staff and his players has never wavered.
“I’m incredibly proud of our players just for the young men that they are and what they have become,” Clementson said. “I’m more proud of my staff. The character of my coaching staff was second to none and a complete inspiration to me. They have been unbelievable mentors and role models.”
Clementson will continue to teach at the school, and he said he’s open to helping with the football program in the future.
“Coach Clementson and his staff did a fantastic job,” DeWolfe said. “The time, effort and energy they put into the program was amazing, and they did a great job with important life lessons and character building. They were fantastic.”
But DeWolfe said he is looking at this transition as an opportunity to take a systematic approach to bring more energy and, hopefully, a larger number of players to the program. The past two seasons the junior varsity program at the high school has struggled to field a complete team for an entire season.
DeWolfe said he wants to be proactive in finding ways to making the program a bigger draw for high school athletes. He said he believes that taking a look at the way middle school and high school programs are structured in Steamboat is a good starting point.
“It will be an in-depth process, and it is something that I’m excited about,” DeWolfe said about finding a new head coach and evaluating other positions in the program. “It’s an opportunity to rebuild the program from the ground up.”
DeWolfe said the change will not only impact the high school but also middle school programs, which provide the path to high school football. He said current assistants and middle school coaches will have to re-apply for positions in the next several months, and the program will be realigned so that middle school and high school coaches are all on the same page. DeWolfe would like to see the new coach play a role in filling those positions.
DeWolfe said the changes are not necessarily about wins and losses but about getting players to buy into the program, so they remain involved from middle school through graduation. He said the new head coaching job should be posted later this week, and he is hoping the hiring process can begin after Blues Break.
In recent years, the number of players in the high school football program has declined. DeWolfe said there are a number of reasons for the decrease, but he said the school needs to look into ways to turn those numbers around.
It’s something Clementson said he has been in favor of since he stepped into the head coaching position.
“I’m very excited about the upcoming seventh- through 12th-grade alignment,” Clementson said, “I think it is going to be fantastic for the program, and, although I’m stepping away, I’m hoping that I can still be involved with the program in some positive way.
“I appreciate and am thankful for all the opportunities that I’ve been given as head coach,” he added. “It’s not about me. It has always been about this program and about kids and their experience coming through the high school. I continue to feel that way.”
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With abnormally low snow levels, most of the snow skiers and snowboarders will encounter Saturday during Steamboat Resort’s Opening Day will be manufactured.