Steamboat man earns honor for work supporting high school sports in Colorado |

Steamboat man earns honor for work supporting high school sports in Colorado

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Dr. Rick Bettger would rather hand out an award than receive one.

But Bettger, who was born and raised in Steamboat Springs, had to endure the latter last month when he earned the Lloyd Gaskill Award from the Colorado High School Coaches Association on March 24 at the Radisson Hotel Denver Southeast in Aurora.

“I’ve received some nice awards. I’ve always been pretty active, and I have been very honored by these awards, but I like giving awards better than I like receiving them,” Bettger said. “This was nice.”

The Lloyd Gaskill Award was established in 1993 by the Colorado High Schools Association to honor the legendary coach from Limon. Each year it is given to an individual who has given support to Colorado high school athletics in ways other than coaching.

Bettger has spent a lifetime in education and has long supported high school athletes in a number of different roles.

After graduating from Steamboat Springs High School in 1970. he went on to earn a scholarship to Western State College in Gunnison for athletic trainers.

“I’m a proud Steamboat Springs High School graduate,” Bettger said. “I grew up as a poor kid in Steamboat Springs and the scholarship financed me to get my degrees at Western State.”

In fact, he went on to more than one degree. He earned a bachelor of arts in 1974, master of arts in 1975 and master of business administration in 1977. He returned to school in 1988 and got a doctorate in school administration, curriculum and instruction from the University of Denver.

He also spent 30 years in the Aurora public schools at Gateway and at Aurora Central High School as a teacher, trainer, athletic director, league president, wrestling official, assistant principal and director of curriculum and instruction. He went on to spend another 11 years as director of student services at the Pitkins Technical College in Aurora, which was an area vocational school for adults and high school students.  

“I started out teaching a class that most people have never even heard of, type writing,” Betteger said.

This is not the first time that Bettger has been honored for his efforts with high school athletics. In 1988, he was named Colorado Athletic Director of the Year by the Colorado High School Activities Association and was a runner up for National Athletic Director of the Year. He was also regional Athletic Director of the Year, is a lifetime member of the Colorado Wrestling Officials Association and earned the CHSAA Distinguished Service Award. For 44 years he has been a member of the Colorado Athletics Directors Association. He worked as an athletic trainer at CHSAA State Championship events for the past 29 years.

Today he remains involved with Colorado High School Coaches Association, and as director of education, he provides college level programs, which allow coaches to keep their teaching certificates up-to-date at different camps and clinics across the state.

“I’m still involved with the High School Coaches Association,” Bettger said. “I’m still staying involved in that kind of stuff. It gets me out of town, and I make a little money on the side.”

He moved back to Steamboat in 2005 and is living in the house his grandparents purchased in 1950 for $2,000.

Since returning home, Bettger stays busy with several endeavors. He helped start nursing programs in Craig, and was employed by BOCES to study how to do an area vocational school that would serve Moffat and Routt counties. The Babson Carpenter Career & Technical Education Center opened in Hayden in 2008, and Bettger is proud that he played a role in bringing vocational education to our area. 

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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