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Four years ago, I was at Legend High School when Highlands Ranch girls basketball coach Caryn Jarocki won her milestone 500th career game.
I was at Arapahoe on Dec. 7 when Jarocki’s Falcons defeated the Warriors, 62-27, to notch her 600th win in 33 seasons of Colorado high school coaching.
She has the most wins for a girls coach in Colorado with a 600-163 record, including a 449-90 mark and seven state championships in 22 seasons at Highlands Ranch. She coached for 11 seasons at Colorado Academy.
There were 600 signs and a big cake as former players, current players and fans celebrated after the win over Arapahoe. Milestone victories are special, but 600th appeared to mean a little more for Jarocki who said she was looking toward win 601 and even victory number 700.
“I was more nervous for this one, I don’t know why,” Jarocki said. “I guess because Jerry (Arapahoe coach Knafelc) always puts a good team out there on the floor.”
The post-game celebrations seemed to effect Jarocki more than a unforced turnover by one of her players.
“I’m really proud of my school for helping me celebrate and all my coaches I’ve had over the years and all the great players I’ve had have that really made this a fun celebration,” said Jarocki, who then offered her success secret.
“It took hard work and paying attention to detail and great kids that are willing to listen to me,” she said. “I always loved playing the game and I always wanted to coach it. I love giving the kids my love for the game.”
Tradition prevails in grid alignments
Hopefully we can say goodbye to waterfall alignments and welcome back tradition. The Colorado High School Activities Association football committee must have been humming the melody to “Tradition” from “Fiddler on the Roof” when it announced its proposed lineups for 2018-19 football seasons.
The former Centennial League almost looks the same and many Jefferson County schools will play conference games against each other.
Five Highlands Ranch schools are in the same loop along with Castle View. Several north area teams won’t have to schedule non-league games against nearby rivals since a couple leagues have north area teams.
All this makes sense. The waterfall format sounded good but logic was absent. Open enrollment is still a problem that helps the rich teams get richer but the CHSAA can’t do anything about the state legislative regulation.
These proposed leagues still have to be approved by the Legislative Council in January.
The council kept geography, school district rivalries and struggling programs in mind with its proposed alignments. The proposal heading to the Legislative Council includes expanding the 5A state playoffs from 16 to 24 teams and a change to start practice a week earlier, which could allow for a bye week in the schedules.
In Class 5A there will be five leagues with six teams and one conference with 10 schools, which includes schools like Northglenn and Westminster that have struggled recently in football.
“This will provide the 10 teams with an opportunity to have competitive equity,” said Westminster School District athletic director Gabe Trujillo. “Participation will improve, hopefully there will be a decrease in injuries, and proximity is critical to reduce class disruption and early leaves. If we did not address the inequitable competitive conference we could very well lose football as a program.”
Jefferson County School District Athletic Director Jim Thyfault was pleased with the proposed leagues.
“It was been several years since our schools have been together in a league,” he said. “Hopefully this revives the excitement in our communities like we have seen in the past.”
Still, everything seems acceptable but not perfect.
“I absolutely hate we are not in the same conference as Castle View,” said Douglas County coach Gene Hill.
Mountain Vista coach Ric Cash also weighed in.
“I don’t like playing Valor since they are in our back yard,” he said. “Traditionally, CHSAA put the private schools in a league outside of their immediate recruiting area, but I guess that has changed. Since they are in the Jeffco league in everything else, I don’t understand why they didn’t go there in football as well. Mullen could have then come to our league.
“As it is, the Douglas County schools now have two of the private schools in their leagues, which seems wrong, but I understand the rationale of trying to create competitive balance in the south. The problem is the `competitive balance’ will shift now that the waterfall is gone, but we’ll have to deal with that in the next cycle. The group of 10 thing makes sense on some levels, but it creates some brutal schedules for everyone else and I think everyone is a little worried about depth right now, thinking they are going to get beat up before the playoffs. I suppose we’ll see.”
Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at email@example.com or at 303-566-4083.
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