Gustafson Accepts New Post in Fort Collins Area
One of Woodland Park’s more popular long-time coaches and teachers is bidding farewell, following more than two decades of service.
Brian Gustafson has made the decision to move on and hand over the reins as the director of business services for the Woodland Park RE-2 School District. Gustafson also had played the head coaching roles for the golf and basketball teams for years.
After playing a key role this last year in the process of the school district acquiring Merit Academy as a charter school, Gustafson opted to head north and pursue a new career in the Fort Collins area. Gustafson and his wife chose to embark on a new journey and be part of the brand new Timnath Middle-High School located in Northern Colorado southeast of Fort Collins.
The former coach and business director made the choice at the end of the school year to pursue a new position as the budget director for the Poudre School District in the Fort Collins area. His wife secured a position at the brand new middle/high school and in addition to his new role as budget director he is also the head coach to start the basketball program at Timnath High School.
Gustafson said that there were a lot of factors involved in his decision. The former WP coach explained that after going to college in Fort Collins, he had always wanted to move back to the area. “It was a really cool opportunity to get the chance to be a part of starting a brand new school,” Gustafson said. “The opportunity to start a basketball program from scratch in a growing area, you don’t get the chance to do that very often.”
Leaving Behind a Legacy
Woodland’s Park’s former basketball and golf coach leaves behind a great legacy in the form of the lives he has touched over the last 25 years. Gustafson grew up in the city and graduated from Woodland Park High School. He then joined the staff in 2000 as a coach and teacher.
Gustafson started at the Woodland Park High School as an assistant basketball coach and a teacher who taught business and computer classes. He has since served as the head basketball coach for more than a decade, along with coaching the high school golf team and holding a position as director of business services for the last 10 years.
As for the biggest highlights of his career as business director, he cited working with the district through the recession in 2008 and the pandemic and helping to raise teacher pay. “When I first started we were experiencing numerous years of compensation freezes,” Gustafson said. “Just in the last seven years, we got out of those. Over those seven years we were able to boost the base teacher salary by almost 30 percent. That took a lot of teamwork, and being a part of that was one of the highlights of my career.”
Gustafson also expressed much satisfaction with starting up the high school’s golf program from scratch. Since he started and led the team, the WP high school linksters have had 13 players qualify for the state championship. They also have recorded a couple of league championships under Gustafson’s reign as head coach. When the team started, they posted a cellar position, and now have been regarded as one of the most successful programs in the state.
“But ultimately, all of the highlights are about the guys and the connections made,” Gustafson said. “It was an honor helping the kids find education, and find growth and find themselves and helping myself do the same thing. It’s been very rewarding for sure.”
The former coach and teacher also said even though his basketball career had its ups and downs, he was thrilled to have been given the chance to coach for so long and touch so many lives. “I joked with my principal and athletic director here in Timnath when I told them, ‘Hey, I can guarantee you I am the coach at Woodland Park with the most losses that they have ever seen,’” the coach said. “It’s because of volume and certainly we had some lean years. But, with 12 seasons as a head coach and five as an assistant I got to see some tough times and some highlights. The opportunity for longevity there, the lasting relationships, and meaningful connections I made, make me feel very privileged and ultimately those are the ‘wins’ I will cherish the most.”
Gustafson said that he plans on continuing the relationships he has made in the City Above the Clouds as he moves on to his new endeavors. He also said that folks in Woodland Park should be watching out for the Timnath High School basketball team in the next coming years, as he plans to start the team off on a high note and quickly build it to success.