Roger Walters to coach Rifle boys

No more 70-mile commutes for Roger Walters.

The former Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball coach, who resigned April 27, is returning to his roots as the boys basketball coach at Rifle High School.

“I can be at work in less than 10 minutes,” Walters said, chuckling.

Walters coached the Bears from 1995 to 2002 and graduated from Rifle in 1985, so he truly is home again. He’ll teach U.S. History at the high school.

“It was one of those jobs. The thing about it is: The social studies jobs don’t come around very often,” he said. “It was just good timing this spring, and that gave us a little bit of an option.”

Walters replaces Chris Lowther, who resigned from coaching at roughly the same time as Walters, but will stay on as a math teacher at the school. Rifle girls coach Stephanie Heald also resigned and is moving to Lubbock, Texas, where her husband got a job.

Walters, whose oldest daughter, Taylor, will be a senior at Rifle next season, briefly considered applying for the girls coaching job.

“Thought about it. When it comes to that sport, it would be different coaching your kid,” he said. “The good thing is the boys and girls travel together, so I’ll get a chance to watch her.”

One reason Walters left the Colorado Mesa job after three seasons was because he rarely got to see Taylor play basketball, and he was spending too much time away from his family, which lives just outside of Rifle. When he was hired at Mesa, they weren’t able to sell their home in Rifle, and once Taylor started high school, they wanted her to be able to finish there with her friends.

This week, he’ll be watching Taylor play in the Class 4A state golf tournament in Greeley, where the regional champion could finish high on the leader board.

The time away from the family, and the rising cost of gasoline, prompted Walters to give up the CMU job. In three years, he went 38-42 and brought the Mavericks back into contention in the RMAC, making the conference tournament the past two seasons.

“I don’t have to stop at the gas station every three days and spend $65,” he said. “But it was more than that. It was tough to be away from the family.”

CMU Athletic Director Butch Miller said the school is advertising the position through the end of the month and hope to have it filled soon after reviewing applicants.

Walters has had a couple of open gym sessions to get to know the Bears who aren’t playing baseball or running track. And he’ll be back in Grand Junction this summer for the CMU camps.

He laughed about how his career has come full circle.

“It’s kind of like I never left,” he said. “It’s kind of weird. I spent lots of time in that gym playing as a kid and coaching, so it’s pretty familiar. The sad thing is: I taught some of their parents.”

Switching back to coaching high school boys from college women won’t be a big challenge, Walters said.

“You’ve still gotta be yourself,” he said. “There’s a certain style you play. You pick it out and be yourself and be the best you can. That’s what I’ve always done and what we’ll go with.”

It’s a possibility that in two years Taylor will be playing golf for the Mavericks — her dad graduated from Mesa — and Elly, who loves basketball, could one day suit up for Colorado Mesa’s basketball team.

“It was a great job, and we built relationships that will last a lifetime,” he said. “I want my kids to go there. It’s up to them, but that would be something I hope happens.”

Not only has he picked out his camp dates, he’s checked the schedule and knows when the whole family will be in the stands at Brownson Arena next winter.

“We’re coming to the Thanksgiving tournament,” he said. “It’s a special group, and it always will be. They’re gonna do great things.”


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