Back on May 23rd, Niwot athletic director Chase McBride headed to Dick's Sporting Goods Park to watch his cousin's daughter play in the Class 5A girls soccer state championship game between Broomfield and Grandview.
And as he was settling into his seat, McBride wasn't surprised in the least when he spotted a group of a half-dozen or more coaches of other sports from Broomfield gathered together in the stands to cheer on the Eagles.
It's that kind of support from the coaching community at Broomfield that McBride came to know first-hand when he was a three-sport star at the school in the early 2000s. And it's something he's tried to instill during his four years as the athletic director at Niwot.
And it's paying dividends. While Broomfield remains the gold standard for athletic excellence in Boulder County — the Eagles have won the BoCoPreps.com Cup for the eighth time in the awards' 12-year history — Niwot has finished runner-up in the standings for the first time.
"It's a great honor for our school, and a huge reflection of our coaches and student-athletes," McBride said earlier this week while on vacation with his wife Chelsea in Charleston. "They put countless hours of work and preparation into their success, and deserve all the credit."
The BoCoPreps.com Cup is modelled after the Director's Cup used at the NCAA level, awarding a point total for where a particular team finishes in the team standings at their respective state tournaments. Individual results are not factored. Then each school's final standing is derived by dividing the total number of points earned by the number of sports it participated in.
While the Cougars have cracked the top five of the Cup standings a few times during the dozen years it has been handed out, this was the first season when they made a serious run at the overall title.
Niwot got off to a fast start in the fall, when the Cougars had a second-place finish in gymnastics, made it to the semifinals in boys soccer and volleyball, and finished top four in boys cross country and tennis. They finished second in the Cup standings for the fall behind Peak to Peak, which won state titles in girls cross country and boys golf.
Niwot dropped back a bit in during the winter season, when a fifth-place finish at state for the girls swimming team was the only point producer for the school, but rebounded with a strong spring, highlighted by the second-place finish in girls track and the state championship won by the girls tennis team in Pueblo.
One thing that contributed mightily to Niwot's success this school year was the number of student-athletes that excelled in more than one sport for the Cougars. While there's an obvious cross-over between cross country runners and athletes in track and field, Niwot also had many other two- and three-sport athletes across the board.
McBride said the multi-sport athlete model is something that the coaches strive for at Niwot.
"We have more kids than ever before playing more than one sport — and that's the key to a highly successful athletic department," McBride said. "Specializing in one sport is not something we promote at NHS, but rather we want kids playing two or three sports. Our coaches are working together as a group to continue to promote this at all times."
Even with the success Niwot enjoyed this season, McBride believes the Cougars can do better. The school struggled in a couple of high profile sports — most notably football and boys and girls basketball — but McBride said the success the other programs had can only be a positive influence.
"We have the right coaches in place, and a great group of kids who are working hard during the offseason and summer months," McBride said. "While the process might be slow and challenging at times, with the work and effort of the coaches and athletes, I am positive all of our programs will continue to improve."
John Rosa: 303-473-1315, firstname.lastname@example.org