Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Bruce Warren

New NHS Boys Basketball Coach


August 4, 2017

Eric Hejl (pronounced “Hail”) has been named the new Niwot High School boys basketball coach, replacing Preston Hardy, who resigned in June for family reasons, including a new baby on the way and club team coaching responsibilities.

Hejl, a varsity assistant under Hardy last year and the freshman coach two years ago, will assume the reigns on a one-year interim basis, according to Athletic Director Chase McBride.

Hejl works at Lake Valley Golf Course as a PGA apprentice and assistant pro when he is not coaching basketball.

He grew up in Rangely, Colorado, where he was an All-Conference basketball player and also participated in golf, track, cross-country and baseball. Hejl, who now lives up Left Hand Canyon, said, “Basketball and golf were my two favorites in high school.”

Hejl attended Colorado Mesa University on an academic scholarship, graduating in 2006 with a degree in kinesiology, with an emphasis on sport and fitness management and administration. After working for the Western Rio Blanco Recreation & Parks District, he returned to Rangely, a Class 2A school at the time, to become a PE teacher at Rangely High School.

After starting out as a JV coach, he served as head boys basketball coach for four years, including 2010-2011 (10-13), 2011-2012 (8-12), 2012-2013 (7-13), and 2013-2014 (15-8), according to Maxpreps. “The last season was definitely my best team,” Hejl said, noting that he had coached the seniors all four years.

At the end of the 2014 school year, Hejl got married and moved to the front range, working as an oil and gas safety manager before landing the position at Lake Valley.

Though the coaching change came suddenly at the end of June, Hejl hopes to keep the staff intact. Last year’s JV coach, Charles Trowbridge, will move up to varsity assistant, with Jordan Lane-Miller expected to take over the JV position. Joe Kear, who teaches at Niwot, will be back as C team coach. “He’s been a huge asset,” Hejl said, noting that Kear organized much of the summer program.

Don’t expect too many changes in the program’s philosophy. “I want to mold the system around the kids we have,” Hejl said. “I prefer to play a man-to-man defense whenever possible. On offense, we’re going to try to take advantage of our size, with a traditional post player inside.”

Senior Cameron Carlson and junior Dominik Luthens are expected to provide size inside. The Cougars also have junior Thomas Bounds returning. “We can do some things with him,” Hejl said. “He’s a very good athlete and an extremely good shooter.”

The team participated in summer camps at CU, UNC and DU. “There are some juniors coming in that can help,” Hejl said. He expects to meet with his team for the first time as head coach the first week in August.


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