New coach, experienced girls squad in Soroco |

New coach, experienced girls squad in Soroco

Melinda Mawdsley

It’s almost as if Danelle Rivera was meant to coach the Soroco girls basketball team.

With the retirement of long-time coach Bob Johnson at the end of last season, the Rams needed to find a replacement for the man the high school gym is named after.

Rivera is more than ready for the task.

The situation had to be perfect for Rivera and her husband, Devin DuPree, to leave Aurora. They had great teaching and coaching jobs at Gateway High School, but Rivera, who grew up in Eagle, wanted to return to the mountains. She wanted to give her husband, a Michigan native, a more scenic view of Colorado than metropolitan Denver.

At Soroco High School, the pair found teaching positions and the coaching jobs they needed, all in the mountain setting they wanted.

Rivera, a social studies teacher, will serve as the varsity coach, and DuPree, a science teacher, will be the assistant.

“This will be our fourth year coaching together,” Rivera said. “We’ve done it so long. It’s not even any concern to us. … If there wasn’t an opportunity to teach what I wanted to teach and for him to teach and for us to coach, we wouldn’t have left Gateway. It has all fell into position.”

The transition from Class 5A girls basketball in Aurora to Class 2A girls basketball in South Routt won’t be as difficult as it may seem, other than getting used to long bus trips. Rivera’s teams in Aurora had great team speed but lacked height. The story will be the same this season for the Rams. Their tallest player is 5-foot-7.

“We are running an offense that works with the fact that we have a lot of speed but not a lot of height,” Rivera said. “They are buying into the whole system we are setting for them. They are buying that we are really emphasizing defense. The kids have been wonderful. The work ethic has been terrific.”

Soroco scrimmaged Steamboat Springs and two junior varsity teams from Grand Junction on Saturday with positive results. No scores were kept, but Rivera was pleased with what she saw from the Rams.

“I think they shocked some people,” she said.

Rivera didn’t get the girls basketball coaching position until August, so she wasn’t able to take the team to camps as she usually would. But she met most of the players through classes and open gyms before the season officially started.

Soroco opens its competitive season Friday by traveling to take part in the four-team DeBeque Tournament. Plateau Valley, DeBeque and Nucla are registered.

Soroco returns all but several players from last year’s team, so the Rams figure to be competitive in the Western Slope League. Other than the road trip to DeBeque, Soroco’s first five games are at home. League play opens at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 7 against Rangely.

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