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Niwot High's new football coach expects more than wins

Series: Niwot Football | Story 2

February 26, 2020

Pattie Logan

Nick Blume will lead Niwot's football team beginning in the 2020-21 school year.

Niwot High's new head football coach, Nik Blume, doled out pizza and enthusiasm when he met with the players and their parents last week, sharing his "full tilt" approach to coaching. He won't officially be on staff until the end of the semester, but he's already laying the groundwork for next season.

Blume told the players that weightlifting will start this spring. "That's non-negotiable for me. If you don't like weights, this might not be for you," he said. "You have to be physically prepared in order to excel at this game."

Excel. Excellence. Discipline. Respect. Manners. Coach Blume talked to players and their families about almost everything except winning. Maybe he doesn't want to jinx the season before it begins. Maybe it just sounds smarmy. Or maybe, focusing on winning isn't actually how to win.

That's a vision that he shares with Athletic Director Joe Brown. It's one of the reasons Blume was chosen to replace Jeremy Lanter, who resigned after another disappointing season when the Cougars went 3-7. "We're committed to chasing excellence," Blume said. "You do the little things well. And the more you do the little things well, the more big things go your way. When you do that, the winning happens on its own."

That philosophy and a focus on the big picture made Blume the man for the job, according to Brown. "You set that foundation of good character, hard work and dedication. When you do that, you're going to win," said Brown.

But that's not the only reason Blume stood out. "First and foremost it's because he's a good person," Brown told the audience. "He has strong moral values and believes in the development of young men into young adults and cares about the development of the whole person, not just Xs and Os."

Blume seems suited for the job with a sturdy frame, full beard, deep voice, and a big personality. He comes from Lutheran High School in Parker where he served as an assistant coach in track and football. He'll coach both sports at Niwot too, serving as an assistant for track in addition to the head coaching position in football.

The multi-sport coach is a big believer that kids benefit from doing more than one sport, something he'll encourage as a way for students to improve their athletic skills year-round. He worries that today's trend towards specialization keeps kids from getting the most out of the athletic and social opportunities that come with being part of various high school teams. By promoting multi-sport participation, he hopes to attract athletes from other sports to increase the number of football players to help Niwot be more competitive.

The new coach spent a chunk of the evening talking to players and parents one-on-one. "In year one it's about relationships. It's always been about relationships for me. The inside out coaching approach is to build a quality program that your kids have to get excited and they have to trust you and feel cared about."

Parents responded to that message. "I really like that he wants to be fully invested in the boys' lives," said Stacie Leatherwood whose son, Easten, is on the team. "It feels good to have someone new come to the Niwot family and help these kids and walk with them. I just like his character and what he stands for. I really like his background."

Blume's background is in Big Red football country. He was raised in the small farming and ranching town of Valentine, Neb. He's the oldest in a family of eight that includes biological, adopted and stepchildren. Add to that several foster children over the years and his family could field an entire offense with a couple of subs.

He describes his upbringing as a "no-nonsense blue-collar family" that was diverse and frugal, with his father working as a tractor mechanic and his mom carrying a lot of the household responsibilities. It taught him patience, sharing and, as the oldest child, an appreciation for kids.

Blume has coached kids for 17 years. He told the parents he doesn't have any children of his own, so he sees their kids as his kids. "My time, my focus is going to be on making your young men better people. Athletics stops. Who are they going to be, what are they going to accomplish when they leave here, is more important to me at the end of the day," Blume said.

"I want to win games. Don't get me wrong, I just told your kids I hate losing more than I like winning. But at the end of the day are they becoming better people? Are they becoming significant in the lives of each other, your lives, in lives of the community, and when they go down the road and have their own family?"

It's a message that resonated with junior safety Jordan Byers. "I was impressed with him. How we're going to have a bigger brotherhood and be a part of the community," said Byers.

Strong safety and running back Easten Leatherwood, thinks Blume is a good mixture of likable and tough. "There are some coaches that are kind of soft on you. And I feel like he's not going to be the one that's going to be soft and that's good for me," said Leatherwood.

That comment proves a point for Brown. "He's going to hold kids accountable. They might not like it at first, but kids like accountability. If we're holding kids accountable and to high standards, they're going to achieve them," said Brown, who included the players in the decision-making process by asking them for a list of qualities they wanted in a coach.

He said Blume checked all the boxes and more. "He's got a variety of knowledge about football when it comes to the Xs and Os. We all know that's an important piece of it," said Brown, "but the most important piece of it is getting those kids to believe that that's going to work and that's going to move us forward. I just think he brings such a powerful presence, ideas and energy that our numbers are going to continue to grow now and people will start talking about Niwot Football in a positive way."

Blume will teach P.E. and Health, just as he did for the past seven years as a Lutheran High School Lion. Now he'll become a Cougar, and the school is excited to see what this new cat will bring.


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