SSHS hockey’s Campanelli named state coach of the year | SteamboatToday.com

SSHS hockey’s Campanelli named state coach of the year

Austin Colbert

Former Steamboat Springs High School hockey coach Chris Campanelli was named assistant coach of the Steamboat Wranglers junior hockey team.

— Maybe it's Chris Campanelli's background as a hockey goalie that makes him continually pile praise on those near him. Just as a goalie can't win a game on his own, Campanelli thinks it truly takes a team to accomplish anything special on the ice.

Nonetheless, when good things do happen, the credit often goes to the person at the top. In this case, that person is Campanelli, the head coach of the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team and the Colorado State High School Activities Association's coach of the year for the 2015-16 season.

"To receive an award like this, after everything we have worked for, it's for the entire team and entire coaching staff — and for the parents for being so supportive," Campanelli said. "You guide the kids the best you can, but they are the ones who go out and produce, and they did. It's a reward for the whole high school hockey team."

Announced last week and presented by chsaanow.com, coloradopreps.com and MaxPreps, the award was voted on by the coaches and it was Campanelli's surprising second season that resulted in him being recognized as the state's best high school hockey coach this winter.

The Sailors finished the season 13-7 overall and advanced to the second round of the state tournament before losing to eventual state champion, Regis Jesuit. This followed Campanelli's first season as head coach, a dismal 3-16 campaign the year before.

"It's a huge accolade that Chris and the community, our kids, our parents, should be very, very proud of," said Sailors assistant hockey coach Kerry Shea. "It's a big deal. It really, really is. We should take a moment and certainly acknowledge it for what it's worth."

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While the award is certainly warranted given the 10-game turnaround from Campanelli's first season to his second, it was also a surprise to both Campanelli and Shea. The Sailors had no one named to the all-state teams this year, which is dominated by Front Range players. Given the homogenous nature of high school hockey in the state, it is difficult for the few mountain town teams to get the attention of the largely Denver-area voters.

But, it seems, Steamboat impressed enough throughout the season that the coaches thought Campanelli deserved more formal recognition for his efforts.

"It's a testament to what's happening with the overall conversation with hockey in Steamboat. To be a part of it was awesome," Shea said. "It was actually refreshing to see that's the way the voting went, to actually acknowledge Chris' performance and our staff’s and kids’ performance. They saw that, which is great."

Campanelli and Shea have led the charge in building a strong foundation for youth hockey in Steamboat in recent years. With the success of the Steamboat Hockey Classic — which raised $70,000 in its third annual event last week — and the development of programs that make hockey a year-round option for kids, the sport is rapidly growing in popularity in the Yampa Valley.

"With hard work comes good things, and that's the lesson I would like to emphasize going into next season," Campanelli said. "What a great honor for such a long journey from last summer to the end of the season. Obviously, this couldn't have been done without the great assistant coaches I have in Kerry Shea and Matt Workman, and the unbelievable hard work and dedication the kids gave this year. The success they had on the ice was theirs."

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert