"We want the community to come and see how truly gifted our kids are, not only academically but athletically as well," says Michael Hughes, new athletic director for the Telluride Middle/High School.
Opening the school's gymnasium doors to more members of the community is just one of the goals Hughes, taking post as the new Telluride Middle/High School Athletic Director this year, hopes to accomplish. Prior to being hired earlier this year to take the place of outgoing athletic director Eric Nepsky, Hughes spent the last eight years working for the Norwood School district as a social studies teacher, coach for boys football and girls basketball, and, for the last five years, as the Norwood Schools' athletic director.
Aside from his duties as Telluride's athletic director, Hughes will teach eighth grade current events, seventh grade P.E., and coach girls' high school basketball. Hughes will also take over for Don Mitchell as coordinator for the high school mentorship program.
With a strong background in both athletics and academic education, Hughes says he hopes to lead Telluride's athletic program into a successful, community-supported future.
"The direction I would like to help steer the Middle/High School athletic program is a direction where the emphasis is for athletics to be co-curricular, not just extra-curricular, to Telluride's already strong academic program," he says. Over the years he has witnessed the power of combining school lessons and sports lessons for a well-rounded educational experience.
"The lessons kids can learn through athletics are very valuable life lessons," says Hughes. "Participating in sports or other activities, like student council or band, adds a strong educational experience to a student's schooling. School can be a much different experience for kids if they don't have that extra motivator of sports or other activities."
Hughes emerged as a teacher, coach and athletic director following an upbringing where sports played a major role in his own education. Hughes grew up in a small town in Iowa, where he literally played sports year-round. In high school, Hughes participated in football in the fall, basketball in the winter, track in the spring, and baseball in the summer. After graduation, Hughes played four years of football at Wartburg College, a Division 3 school in his home state.
Just one year after he graduated with a bachelor's degree in world and U.S. history education, Hughes applied for a teaching and coaching position in Norwood. Three years after being hired as a social studies teacher and football and basketball coach, Hughes became Norwood's athletic director.
His first few weeks at the helm of Telluride's athletic department were inundated with plenty of typical back-to-school busy-ness, says Hughes, but he has already noticed a strong support system within the Telluride School's administration.
"The support of the staff and administration in Telluride so far has been wonderful," he says. "It seems that they are willing to do everything they can to support Telluride's athletic program."
Hughes predicts that boys' lacrosse will emerge on the high school's spring athletic calendar, that a girls' golf team and a co-ed cross-country running team may emerge in the near future. The coach's beloved football, however, is not yet on the athletic department's agenda, he confides.
"The athletic department already has a number of programs in place that I would like to focus on and make stronger, rather than adding another program," he says of the possibility of bringing football to Telluride. "Telluride students do have the opportunity to play football in Norwood, which I think benefits both communities… I will really miss coaching football though! [Not coaching football this fall] will allow me, however, to focus more on the task at hand," he says.
Overall, Hughes hopes to bring guidance, leadership and a positive direction to the Telluride athletic program, and he invites any student, parent or faculty member to discuss any issue or concern with him, anytime.
"My door is always open, so I hope that anyone who wants to discuss any issues, academic or athletic-related, will feel free to come talk to me," he says.
The Telluride Middle/High School athletic schedule for this fall includes boys' soccer and girls' volleyball. Both teams have already chalked up one home-game victory; look for future school sports coverage in the Telluride Watch's sports section.