Michael Krueger aims to unite school membership as new CHSAA commissioner – Greeley Tribune

Michael Krueger’s road to CHSAA commissioner began four decades ago in a Grand Junction gym.

In the late 1980s, at Mesa State’s college campus, Krueger joined the basketball team as a volunteer student assistant coach. He folded the towels. Water flowed. Post grabbed a padded bag in practice to beat players. Lesson?

“Never be afraid to do whatever it takes to make the team successful,” Krueger said.

Mesa State basketball legend Paul Cain (1986-90) left the program as its all-time leading scorer and rebounder. He found a special training partner in Krueger.

“I went to practice early and stayed late. He was always willing to work with me and rebound and whatever I needed,” said Cain, now the Mesa County Valley School District 51 athletic director. “He was someone who studied the game. This is what made him successful now.”

Krueger is a far cry from his college days on the basketball court. However, this experience in servant leadership led him to a long career in sports. Krueger took over as CHSAA commissioner on July 1 (Replaced Rhonda Blanford-Green) after nearly 30 years in Colorado high school athletics as either a coach or administrator, plus a brief stint in USA Football.

Krueger, 54, now aims to unify the CHSAA membership during a period of significant transition. The pandemic prompted a report $500,000 budget shortfall in 2021. Rural schools have discussed the idea of ​​seceding with the CHSAA to form their own athletic association. There is a looming shortage of game officials, the growing debate over transfer policies and school classifications must also be addressed.

Translation: Krueger was especially busy in his first month on the job.

“One of the things I’ve learned is that you take control and lead people,” said Krueger, who lives in the Denver area. “You have to do everything you can to empower and make sure that the talented people around you can be as successful as possible. When you sit in this chair, difficult decisions will be made to reach your desk. Decisions will sometimes ruffle feathers. All this is related to the territory.”

Krueger’s greatest asset may be his ability to empathize with coaches and administrators from Colorado’s smallest towns to its largest.

In the early 2000s, Krueger was the head coach for baseball, softball and boys basketball at 3A Palisade High School near Grand Junction. He then spent eight years as Palisade’s athletic director before leaving in 2014 to become the district AD for Aurora Public Schools. Krueger is also the parent of two children who play high school sports.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations over the years about how to handle situations and continue to grow as a coach,” Palisade softball coach Wendy MacAskill said. “I really appreciate his mentorship and leadership style. He really fostered a culture of trust and teamwork. … In his position as a commissioner, he was in the place of all the people he represented. I think this is an amazing person leading the charge.”

Krueger is a proven leader off the field as well.

He served as a Palisade elected official – trustee and mayor (2006-12) and led the effort to establish the now popular annual Palisade bluegrass festival. He played a key role in USA Soccer for four years, leading the development of a new youth learning model. individual approach with modified game options.

“He was a truly well-liked and valuable member of our team,” said USA Football CEO Scott Hallenbeck. “The widening of access points to football has had a very positive response and openness to rethinking football, which was the main objective.”

Krueger will meet with hundreds of athletic directors from Colorado at Empower Field early next week for the All-School Summit. The private event will provide a formal introduction to the new CHSAA commissioner. Krueger welcomes the opportunity with an open mind.

“Let’s think big. We have great ideas,” Krueger said. “But we also need to stop and listen to the membership. Make sure everyone is on board. … You don’t always have an answer. It’s good to admit it. We’re going to be really intentional about helping the membership re-engage.”

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