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Girls basketball: Longmont hires Mike Knaus as new head coach
Girls basketball: Longmont hires Mike Knaus as new head coach

LONGMONT — Mike Knaus knows all about the grind of coaching multiple sports.

As the Skyline boys basketball coach and an assistant for the Falcons football team in 1999, he’d spend his November afternoons on the gridiron helping SHS make a run to the state championship game.

After football practice, he’d head to evening hoops practice to lead early season workouts for a group that would eventually go 12-7 that season.

So the three-sport assistant at Longmont High didn’t really flinch at jumping back into the head coaching routine when the opportunity presented itself.

LHS hired Knaus on Wednesday to lead its girls basketball program, replacing longtime coach Jay Darien, who was fired on April 9.

Knaus spent this school year as the running backs and special teams coach for the Trojans football team, the junior varsity coach for boys basketball and an assistant for track.

The 56-year-old — a member of the first graduating class from Niwot in 1974 — said he plans to remain on staff with the football program next fall and possibly the track team in the spring.

“I’m used to that type of schedule,” said Knaus, a physical education teacher who said he’s coached two or three sports every year since he began teaching in 1979.

Longmont athletic director Andrea Tribelhorn said the school moved quickly to find Darien’s replacement to ensure that the players wouldn’t miss a beat with offseason activities.

Knaus beat out a seven-applicant field for the position, including fellow finalist for the job and former LHS softball coach Jim Dornan, also a teacher at the school.

“It makes such a difference for the athletes in the building to have their coach here,” Tribelhorn said. “He’s just such a solid staff member and solid coach. He’s very positive and builds great relationships with kids.”

Before migrating to LHS in 2005, Knaus had a two-year stint as head track coach at Skyline.

That followed nine years as SHS head boys hoops coach, during which he took over an 0-20 program and turned it into one that racked up multiple winning seasons and made one Sweet 16 appearance in the late 1990s.

He takes over a Longmont girls team that enjoyed much success under Darien, including state runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2011. But the program had its share of turmoil this season, one in which the Trojans went 5-19, had a player kicked off the team and eventually saw Darien fired.

Knaus admitted Wednesday that the recent woes weighed on his decision to take the job. But in the end, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

“I was kind of looking for a change of pace, a challenge,” said Knaus, whose son Jay plays wide receiver for Colorado Mesa University. “I know they’ve had some problems and things in the past, but hopefully we can mend things and head in a positive direction.

“They’ve had a lot of success in the program. They were starting over last year, but I know it just takes time to build it back up. I’d like to take a shot here.”

Knaus’ hiring comes just days after Longmont tabbed Tom Royder to lead its softball program, replacing Kaitlyn Gentert, who resigned.

Royder is an individual softball and baseball instructor from New Mexico. He becomes the fourth new coach of the LHS softball program since 2004 when Dornan took over.

“We’re just hoping we can get somebody in there that wants to stay and have some stability for those girls,” Tribelhorn said.

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