Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
LONGMONT — Right after Jeff Kloster earned his first win as the Longmont boys basketball head coach, way back in 1994, his wife Kris snapped a picture of him with their young toddler, Cade.
Little did they know that that simple picture, of Cade sitting on his lap, would mark the beginning of a long road to 500 wins at the same school. On Saturday afternoon, on their home court no less, the No. 9 seed Longmont boys helped their longtime, beloved coach of 28 years enter a club that so few in Colorado have been able to join when they defeated 24 seed Thompson Valley, 67-36, to advance to the Sweet 16 of the Class 4A state tournament.
This time around, Cade was at his right side as his trusted assistant.
“We started out with that little kid in my arms, being in the gym as often as I could bring him,” Jeff Kloster said. “It’s always been a family thing. I’m so thankful for the wife that I have because she is the rock. She is the one that has allowed me to do all of this in the last 28 years. And then to have that energy of Cade on the bench as a young coach who is so good for young people and such a great role model, there’s nothing more special than that.”
For the past 50 years, Jeff has become synonymous with every good thing that Longmont High School has stood for. Whether it was as a student-athlete himself, before graduating in 1975, instructing his players on the sidelines or guiding countless kids through physical education, the man has become an institution of the institution.
When the clock struck zero against the Eagles, both he and Cade broke out into tears as players new and old erupted in cheers and a big “500” sign sprung up among the fans behind the bench.
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“Jeff just gives his heart and soul to this and loves it so much,” Kris said. “The interaction that he gets, the texts he gets today from past players, you just know at that point what an important part of so many lives that he’s had.
“I’m just so proud of him. I know how hard he works, how much he puts into this, how much he cares about this school, about the kids, about their parents and their lives beyond this.”
That energy, that love for their coach sprung from the bench the moment the game started all the way to the final buzzer, as the Trojans did everything to make sure Jeff wouldn’t have to wait a day longer to meet that milestone.
Sophomore point guard Cole Corner, who exploded with 28 points, couldn’t stop draining 3-pointers.
“I think a lot of it had to do with Kloster’s 500th win,” Corner said. “He puts his heart and soul into basketball. Everything he does is solely about basketball. It’s amazing. I can’t even fathom it.”
The most recent CHSAA state records for boys basketball indicate that Jeff Kloster is the 12th coach to reach 500 wins. Denver Christian legend Dick Katte retired after 2012 with a record 876 victories. Former Monarch coach Ken Niven retired in 2016 with 510 wins.
Now, Jeff and the Trojans will get the chance to earn win number 501 when they take on No. 25 Palmer Ridge next week for the Sweet 16. For now, they’ll enjoy the moment before getting back to work.
Cade knows exactly how lucky these kids are.
“It was so fun to play for him,” Cade said. “To be in the position that the kids are in right now and I know I’ve been there, it’s such an honor and such a privilege. He cares so much about the kids beyond basketball, way more than basketball. Just the relationships he’s built with so many players over the years and being able to see that behind the scenes and how much work he’s really put in, it’s just such an honor, such a privilege every day to work with him, work for him and when I was able to play for him.”