DeWolfe steps down as boys hoops coach

Coach won 99 games in seven years atop program

Joel Reichenberger

DeWolfe at the helm

Season records

Overall record: 99-64

2008-2009 17-7 *^

2009-2010 15-9 6!

2010-2011 15-8 ^

2011-2012 8-15 ^

2012-2013 11-12 ^

2013-2014 18-7 ! ^

2014-2015 15-6

*-League champions

!-Won a playoff game

^-Made the playoffs

— From his first day as a teacher, a wide-eyed 22-year old at tiny Highland High School in Ault, Colorado, coaching was a major part of who Luke DeWolfe was.

He wanted to be a high school coach, and that’s how he spent his free time, helping with three sports — football, basketball and track — for his first five years in the profession, then two for his last years in Ault and his first two in Steamboat Springs.

For the past five years, he’s cut back to one, focusing in as the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball head coach.

That changed this week. DeWolfe said Friday he’s stepping down as the Steamboat boys basketball head coach after seven years running the program.

He will stay on as the school’s athletics director and assistant principal, as well as president of the Western Slope League.

“It comes down to my family and just the amount of time it takes to be head coach,” he said. “The conclusion I came to was it was in my best interest and in my family’s best interest to step down.”

DeWolfe joined the basketball program as an assistant for the 2007-2008 season, his first in Steamboat. He then took over for Steamboat legend Kelly Meek the following year, the 2008-2009 season.

In the seven seasons since, he has guided the Sailors to a 99-64 overall record. The team qualified for the postseason in the first six of those seasons and won three playoff games along the way.

The only season it missed the playoffs was the most recent, but that was thanks more to a change in the postseason format than anything the Sailors did differently. The team finished with one of its best records under DeWolfe, 15-6, and with its fourth second-place finish in the league in his time.

The Sailors were also 17-7 in his first season and 18-7 in the 2013-14 season.

“I recommended him for the job, and he stepped in and was very good with the kids,” Meek said. “He was very program-orientated, and I was proud of him. He’ll be missed.”

Still, reflecting on that all only mattered so much to DeWolfe.

Some games lingered in his memory, like 2014’s thrilling double-overtime win at home in the state playoffs, or a buzzer beater during the Steamboat Shoot-Out tournament in 2010.

Mostly, though, when DeWolfe looked back Friday, all he could see were faces.

“Watching our players grow into young men, watching them graduate and be successful when they leave here and having some faith that we played a small part in who they are, those are the things I’ll take away,” he said. “You look back, and there are a lot of good memories, but it’s the kids, the individuals who came through the program, that stick with you.”

DeWolfe started in Steamboat as a physical education and health teacher as well as a basketball assistant and track and field head coach.

He took up the athletics director job with the school in 2009, then turned over the track head coach position that year, as well.

He stepped into a role as assistant principal at the school last fall.

He said none of those extra commitments were a factor, however. What it truly came down to was time with family, his wife Shelby, 9-year old son Hunter and 5-year old daughter Ella.

They offered plenty of support. Shelby was always there to help out, and even her parents, who live in Carbondale, offered overwhelming support, traveling to every game, home or away for all seven seasons.
 DeWolfe said his decision has hit his son, who’s never known a world in which his dad wasn’t a varsity basketball head coach, especially hard.

In the end, though, Hunter was one of the three primary motivations behind Luke DeWolfe’s decision.

That reasoning would have been difficult for an ambitious 22-year old first-time teacher and coach to understand.

“You get to a place where you’re torn between the two, family and the team,” he said. “There were times where I would be with my family and be feeling guilty I wasn’t in the gym or putting in the time I needed to with the team,” he said. “On the flip side, there were times you end up with your team, and you’re feeling guilty you’re not with your family.

“I wrestled with this for a long time, and I wondered if it was the best thing. Ultimately, your kids are only young for a very short window. You can’t replace that time, and it’s invaluable. That’s my No. 1 priority in life right now.”

A search for a new coach began late this week. A committee will be headed up by high school principal Kevin Taulman and won’t include DeWolfe, who will sit out to avoid a conflict of interest.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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