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ThunderRidge athletic director named 5A Athletics Administrator of the Year Award

HIGHLANDS RANCH – Watching the winning run during the recent 5A State Baseball Championship was an appropriate capstone in ThunderRidge High School Athletic Director’s career. Bob Nelson says the single that won the game was an example of the type of coaching he has tried to nurture during his 12 years in the position. It is this work that has also earned him his second Colorado 5A Administrator of the Year Award.
“It was a total team effort. A single here, a stolen base, a kid hitting a sacrifice fly [ball] to move the next guy to third, so we could get the game tied. Then one of our kids hit the game-winning single to drive one of our players in,” Nelson recalls. “Every single kid on the team contributed something to the championship. There wasn’t one kid that didn’t do something during the seven games that it took to win the championship.”
Nelson beams as he talks about the team, and their coach Joe White. He says the team was successful because the players were unselfish, knew their role and bought into teamwork and vision that White brought to the team.
For instance, ThunderRidge valedictorian AJ Jacobs unselfishly split his playing time with another player—and was ready when the team needed him to hit the game winner.
“Coaches work their tails off for the kids and try to get them in the right place and the right role to make things happen. They have to get kids buy in,” Nelson said. “When all those things come together and you win a state championship, it’s pretty fun.”
Helping to provide guidance and support for coaches and eventually ThunderRidge’s student-athletes is why Nelson loves his job.
“Ultimately that is what it is all about, to impact kids. I don’t get to have the relationships with our students like I did when I was teaching and coaching, but at least I get to ensure they have good coaches in front of them that do impact them. That’s what I strive to do is to make sure our kids have good people working with them.
Nelson never planned to be the athletic director. His passion has always been coaching. He coached wrestling for 27 years, football for 20 years and baseball for 10 years. 
Twelve years ago, however, ThunderRidge’s principal had to ask him to apply for the job, because the staff thought he was the best person for the job. 
It may also be surprising to learn that Nelson may never have been a coach if it was not for the prompting of some great mentors.
“I had a great high school coach that instilled in me a desire to give back to kids. Then I was very fortunate to have an outstanding collegiate coach that pushed me in the direction of becoming an educator and a coach as well,” Nelson said.
He was part of the 1980 National Championship Wrestling Team at Adams State College in Alamosa and was a business major, until a coach helped change his mind. Eventually he became a business and physical education teacher.
“I wouldn’t have become a teacher, if I wasn’t going to be a coach,” Nelson said. “Thirty-three years ago when I decided to get into the business, I knew I wanted to coach.”
He taught in Alamosa for two years before moving to the Denver metro area in 1983 to work at Gateway High School in Aurora. He came to Douglas County in 1995, working three years at Highlands Ranch High School, before coming to ThunderRidge in 1998. The rest, as they say, is history.
“It has been a great career. Sometimes I wonder if I ever want it to end, but next year will be my final year,” Nelson said.
He has chosen to retire, but only after serving one more year in the position and receiving the rare honor of being named the 5A Athletics Administrator of the Year Award by the Colorado Athletic Directors Association for the second time in his career.
“I’m really honored. I won the same award in 2006. I’m pretty humble,” Nelson said. “There are so many good athletic directors, not only in Denver, but across the state. In Douglas County, I’m very privileged. Every one of those athletic directors is just as deserving as I am.”
He accepted the award on April 29, during CADA’s annual award banquet at the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield.  
While winning this award twice is an amazing honor, you get a sense that a back-to-back baseball championship next spring would truly be the perfect tribute to this extraordinary athletic director.
October 14, 2013 | By Anonymous | Category:

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