LONGMONT — After starting as an assistant coach when the school opened and then coaching the football program for the last 15 years, Mike Apodaca is leaving Silver Creek.
Apodaca, who also coached the Raptors baseball team for his final four years at Silver Creek, is returning home to his native Cheyenne, Wyo., and will coach the football team at his alma mater Cheyenne Central. He passed on the opportunity to coach the team for which he played in high school once before in 2014 and when the position became available a second time, Apodaca couldn't resist.
"The last time the job opened up, my youngest had just graduated high school," Apodaca said. "My wife and I felt like we needed to give our kids the opportunity to come home to the place where they grew up while they were adjusting to college and figuring out those life things.
"As of the end of May, my youngest will have graduated from college and be out doing his own thing so it felt like the right time in that respect. I've always kept tabs on Cheyenne Central. It's a special place and professionally, having a new challenge is important. I've always been called back there and I didn't want to look back and regret not taking the chance."
Over his tenure as a physical education teacher and coach at Silver Creek, Apodaca's football teams were a combined 100-69 and his baseball teams were 49-33. Apodaca led the Raptors football team to seven state playoff appearances including three consecutive Class 3A state championship games from 2011-13, beating Rifle in 2012 to claim the school's first and only football state championship.
Apodaca will only coach football and teach physical education at Cheyenne Central, where he won a state championship as an all-state senior linebacker in 1988 before going on to the University of Wyoming and then the University of Sioux Falls.
Though he is returning to his original home, Apodaca said Longmont has also come to feel like home after raising his children there and building lasting relationships with so many people over the years at Silver Creek. He intends to keep a close eye on what's happening at Silver Creek the way he has watched Cheyenne Central from a far.
"My time in this town and at that school has been life changing," Apodaca said. "In terms of football, being a part of something from the get-go was something special and it's been amazing to watch a school grow. It's really just a testament to all the great players and people who have come through there. I like to believe that I had a great opportunity and I'm excited to see who takes over next."
At Cheyenne Central, Apodaca will take over a football program that has gone 10-28 over the past four seasons. At Silver Creek, his departure creates a need to fill positions in physical education, football head coach and head baseball coach and his presence will be missed by a number of his friends and colleagues.
"Mike was an assistant coach when we first opened the school so he's been a part of our athletic programs since we started," Silver Creek boys basketball head coach Bob Banning said. "His office is right across the hall from mine and Mike was an assistant basketball coach with us for a number of years. Mike is a tremendous coach and human being but change is inevitable. He has had an amazing impact on a number of our students and on our school. He has been a tremendous colleague and we have shared a lot of ideas with one another about kids, team sports, the growth of a program and I've always thought that his insight was incredibly valuable to me and others at the school.
"He not only was a great Xs and Os football coach that in many ways put Silver Creek on the map but he had a great feel for high school athletics and for our building and he will certainly be missed."