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Steamboat Springs High School seeks new hockey, girls basketball and Nordic ski coach as season appraoches

Former Steamboat Springs High School hockey coach Chris Campanelli was named assistant coach of the Steamboat Wranglers junior hockey team.
Austin Colbert

— When the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team takes to the ice in a few months, an important voice will be missing from the squad’s bench.

“It’s been an honor coaching the Sailors, and I’m gong to miss it,” said former head coach Chris Campanelli, who stepped down at the end of last season.

Campanelli has been coaching with the program the past four years spending most of that time working as an assistant, but stepping up to the head coaching role in summer 2014. He made quite an impression in that role and was named “Coach of the Year” for the 2015-16 season. It was an individual award, but Campanelli prefers not to look at it that way.

“I never would have won that honor without the help of my assistant coaches and the support of this community,” Campanelli said. “The accolades were a great thing for our team, for our town and for the league. It was an individual award, but it really belongs to the whole team and the whole town.”

Last season, Campanelli, an electrical contractor and single father, came to the realization that he needed to focus more on his personal life. He said he loved coaching, but he also needed more time to make sure his business continued to thrive and grow, and he also wanted to spend more time at home with his family, in particular with his son.

“It wasn’t anything in particular,” Campanelli said of his decision to leave. “The job started in June for me and ran until March. I put everything into it in an effort to create an opportunity for kids to play hockey — but it took a lot of time.”

Campanelli said he leaves with a heavy heart but is hopeful the school will hire a solid coach to carry on the Sailors hockey tradition. He also is optimistic he will get back into coaching down the road when things settle down a bit.

“I’m going to be looking forward to getting back into coaching at a high level again,” Campanelli said. “It may be two or three years for me to get back to coaching at that level, but that is the plan.”

The coach also said just because he is leaving the high school team doesn’t mean his involvement with hockey is going to end. Campanelli plans to stay involved with the game at the youth level and doesn’t want to wander too far from the ice.

The head hockey position is one of three that still need to be filled at the high school as the Sailors look forward to the start of a new school year. Boys golf gets rolling Aug. 11, boys tennis hits the courts Aug. 18, and everything with the exception of football will be back by Aug. 20. Football begins Aug. 25.

Steamboat Springs Athletic Director Luke DeWolfe said he hopes to have the head hockey, head girls basketball and head Nordic skiing coaching positions filled in the next few weeks.

“We have a solid candidate pool for the positions,” DeWolfe said. “The interview process should start late next week, and I think it will move pretty quickly.”

Just this week, Joseph O’Dell, was hired as the head boys tennis coach by the school and will be in position to get things rolling when the team starts playing in mid-August. O’Dell works at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs and has been with the high school program the past couple of years as an assistant.

“Getting the tennis coach in place is a big relief,” DeWolfe said. “Tennis is just around the corner, so that position was definitely pressing.”

DeWolfe said he has time to fill the other positions, and the school wants to make sure of its choices. He said parents and volunteers helped those programs stay on track with training programs during the summer.

“I think our biggest goal is to make sure that we find the right person,” he said. “Our goal is to find the best qualified candidate who will be here for a long time. We want to get the right fit instead of hiring the first person right out of the starting gates just because they are there, and we have a position open.”

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


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