Ameen named coach

Girls basketball to inherit seven years of experience

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— John Ameen is the new head coach of the Steamboat Springs High School girls varsity basketball team, Principal Mike Knezevich said Thursday.

Ameen, a high school social studies teacher, brings seven years of coaching experience to the job. He served as an assistant on the varsity boys basketball team last year and was an assistant coach on the boys varsity team at Heritage High School from 2002 to 2003. In 2003, his Heritage team won the Class 5A state championship. Prior to that, Ameen was a graduate assistant at Wittenberg University in Ohio for four years.

"I know he is going to bring this program to the next level," Knezevich said. "The committee was very impressed with John."

The hiring took place after the contract of Ashley Berggren was not renewed earlier this summer.

Ameen, 26, describes himself as a "fiercely competitive" person and said the opportunity to become a head coach of a program has been a lifelong dream.

"Whenever somebody starts coaching, especially as young as I did, they always want to become a head coach," Ameen said. "But right now, we've got a lot of work to do."

The candidate pool was narrowed Tuesday when a group of students, staff and school personnel screened candidates based on their applications. Then, four candidates were interviewed for the job Wednesday.

"I am ecstatic," Knezevich said. "We have a great candidate. We had a good candidate pool. John had a great work ethic with the boys program, and knowing him as a person, he'll do a great job."

Ameen said that in his coaching and playing career he has never endured a losing season. He said his coaching philosophy revolves around building players' skill sets and then going from there.

"I am not guaranteeing anything as far as wins and losses," he said. "But when you do things right and do things on the court and teach players, that's when winning occurs.

"Winning comes from a good system. If you're losing you're not doing everything right as a coach or a player and it is a matter of building that up."

Ameen said he will have an informal lunch Tuesday for girls interested in playing. He will also hold a preseason camp that will start Wednesday or Thursday. The first official practice is Nov. 11.

Although Ameen said it was hard to leave the boys program, he said he pictured this job as a good career move in which "the pros outweighed the cons."

Ameen said he won't know what kind of team he has until he gets to the preseason camp, but said with all of his different experiences in different programs, he's confident he can cater an offense and defense around the players he'll have.

In the end, Knezevich said he felt good about the hire and said girls should be excited to play for Ameen.

"He has been able to work under a great wealth of basketball knowledge," Knezevich said. "He has a great work ethic and is a real student of the game."

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