Steve Stoner / Loveland Reporter-Herald
Cliff Grassmick / Daily Camera
Longtime Berthoud coach Randy Earl wanted to get back into the head chair of a basketball program after taking a brief pause from it.
Same went for Broomfield’s Mike Croell.
And Monarch’s Gail Hook.
Welcome back to the grind, coaches.
The return of three of Colorado’s most-storied girls’ basketball coaches headlines a new-look 5A Front Range League. Each of the five area teams will have new leadership this season, including Fairview (Earl), Monarch (Hook), Broomfield (Croell), Boulder (Emily Glen) and Legacy (Dommonique Campbell).
For Earl, it’s about getting back to a place of comfort.
“I knew I wanted to get back in and coach again,” said Earl, who guided Berthoud to the postseason in 13 of his 14 seasons before stepping away in 2017 in part to his wife working in Washington D.C. “This is what I’ve always done. I’ve been in the gym since I was like 12 or whatever. This is just the place I want to go.”
Earl takes over a Fairview program following a successful run helmed by longtime head man Rod Beauchamp. The Knights finished last season 19-6 and were second to Horizon in the league standings.
Eventually, they were bounced in the 5A round of 16 by Highlands Ranch.
Not one to step on success, the defensive-minded coach said he is blending his own style with some of what the Knights have been doing.
“On defense, I brought in all my ideas and we’ve been practicing all those in the first few days of practice,” Earl said. “Then we mixed in some of the things they were doing offensively with some of my stuff.”
Elsewhere, Croell returns to his alma mater after winning six state titles and posting a 455-69 record in his first 20-year coaching stint. The coach had been an assistant under boys’ coach Terrence Dunn the last two years, but admitted to BoCoPreps earlier in the year that he’d missed being a head coach.
The girls’ program missed him, too. The Eagles went 21-29 in the past two seasons.
Over at Monarch, Hook takes back over the program she constructed into a consistent winner before she stepped away in 2015. The Coyotes were 4-20 last year, something Hook believes can change with a group of “hard-working players” on roster.
According to CHSAA, Hook’s career record in the state is 432-167. She coached Monarch from 1998-2015, and before that she was at Smoky Hill for one year and Centaurus for eight seasons prior to that. CHSAA said her teams have made the round of 16 an impressive 16 times, the quarterfinals a dozen times, and have four title appearances with a championship in 1991 with Centaurus.
Said Monarch post player Emerson Herrmann: “With her experience in basketball all over the country, I know I can trust everything she says. It’s really great to have her.”
At Legacy, Campbell will follow after coach Craig Van Patten, who had five winning seasons in eight years. The Lightning regrouped after a 3-20 season in 2015-16 and won a playoff game in each of their last two seasons.
And at Boulder, Glen will look to rebuild a Panthers’ program that is in the midst of five straight losing seasons. She said the girls are excited for this new chapter.
All five begin their seasons this week.
Brent W. New: email@example.com and @brentwnew