Eagles guided by class act
Rod Sherman’s month of December couldn’t have been much better.
His Valor Christian Eagles rallied to down Pomona 29-26 for the Class 5A state championship at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
His program’s best and most-celebrated player, Christian McCaffrey, now a sophomore at Stanford, finished second in Heisman Trophy voting— and Sherman was on hand in New York to share the moment.
“Being in the theater was just surreal,” he said.
And the Broncos recently hosted the Oakland Raiders, who are led by coach Jack Del Rio— whose son, Luke, starred at Valor— and also have Brent Vieselmeyer, Sherman’s best friend, as an assistant. The two left California in 2007 to help open Valor Christian.
“It was exciting,” said Sherman, the 2015 Broncos high school coach of the year.
The Eagles are 35-7 over Sherman’s three years in command, including 2-1 in state title games.
“This championship was special for our program, especially with the post-Christian (McCaffrey) era and everything,” Sherman said. “It’s definitely special.”
Maintaining the Eagles’ success is not unlike the responsibility of a CEO of a large company, and Sherman has handled it deftly. He repeatedly has taken the high road and knows how to deal with the public and me- dia. He speaks freely after wins and losses, and never bad-mouths his players or others.
It’s a big job. When officials announced plans for the parochial school in the middle of the past decade, dominance in athletics was part of the promise along with the outstanding facilities (the Cincinnati Bengals practiced at Valor beforeMonday’s game against the Broncos).
The 40-year-old Sherman has been at the front of practically all of it, serving as the school’s athletic director, an assistant to Vieselmeyer— he left three years ago to join the college ranks before joining the Raiders this season— and now is Valor’s director of institutional advancement.
A graduate of California’s Orange Lutheran High School and Concordia College, Sherman returned to his high school as a coach while still in college, then came to Colorado in 2007.
So he has witnessed the Eagles’ ups and downs, such as opening in 2008 with a 4-6 record, then advancing to seven consecutive finals over three classifications and winning six state titles.
He sees and hears the good and bad that comes with being at Valor and isn’t afraid to comment. For example: • On scrutiny the Eagles get from people who remain skeptical about parochial and private schools versus public counterparts: “We try to be a pretty open book. We are who we are. And we take pride in it.”
• On being removed from league participation a few years ago because of charges of blatant recruiting: “We’ve worked hard to improve our relationship in the state. I do think we’ve come a long way.”
• On the public noticing how many players with ties to the Broncos walk through the Valor halls and are privileged: “It minimizes how hard our kids work.”
• And on meeting with boosters in the press box at halftime of home games and conducting postgame meetings on the field rather than in the locker room: “It started with me because some of our donors in the box are passionate about our school and because I used to be in the press box and give an injury report. When you watch a college football game, they’re always sharing 30 to 60 seconds with the coach (at halftime). It’s kind of the same thing ... and we don’t meet the kids in the locker room, we want the parents to hear it.
“As a coach, you take responsibility and it’s good for the parents to hear it.”
Sherman said he is blessed all the way around. For him, Valor’s talent, opportunities and academics are unmatched. He said he loves everything from offseason workouts and retreats to nonleague games and title matchups. And there’s no other place he’d rather be. “We have great kids and great families,” Sherman said. “It’s so much fun here.”
Rod Sherman continues to have a lot to shout about as Valor Christian’s head football coach.