Four head coaches off Sailors' ship

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— It's not easy finding coaches in a ski town with an ever-rising cost of living.

"It's difficult to get quality coaches with time for the program," Steamboat Springs High School athletics director Richard Lee said. "The openings seem cyclical. There's a few years, you have a good job, then your life situation changes and you move on."

Lee is looking ahead to a fall season with three of his varsity head coaches having resigned after their 2006 fall seasons -not including track and field coach Andy Reust, who signed on for his seventh year on a one-year, interim basis.

The resignations include cross-country coach Glen Light, softball coach Donna Ryan and cheerleading coach Kathy Jones.

"It's really tough to be focused on my family, make a commitment to the team and work 40-50 hours a week on top of that," said Light, who leaves after three seasons at the helm of a growing cross-country team. "I loved working with the kids, and it was a tough decision, but something had to give."

Light thought it would be "hard to miss" the fall season, considering the potential he sees in fielding an extremely competitive team, including a girls squad he believes can land in the top two at regionals.

Lee said he has had some interest, but no formal applications sent for either the track or cross-country position, but has received an application for both softball and cheerleading. Hoping to fill the spot as soon as possible, Lee said he has advertised the positions on two Web sites and in two newspapers.

The cast net may catch the right applicant. Kathy Jones answered a newspaper ad the first week she moved to Steamboat, seven years ago. In that time, she took the dormant cheerleading program from scratch and turned it into a top-10 state title contender with four Rocky Mountain Region titles in six years.

"It's been such a great time for me here with the girls and the parents," said Jones, who wants to pursue other interests after 17 years of coaching cheerleading.

Jones is committed to leaving the successful program in capable hands and plans to run the spring tryouts for next year's squad - from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through May 11, in the high school weight room - before her departure.

Ryan also will be leaving a program that she helped create, three seasons ago. Lee said Ryan left the position to relocate to California.

- To reach Dave Shively, call 871-4253

or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com

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