A var­ied path led Rhonda Blan­ford-Green to be­come CHSAA com­mi­sioner.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Kyle New­man

Den­ver Post preps ed­i­tor Kyle New­man caught up with new CHSAA com­mis­sioner Rhonda Blan­ford-Green, who is in her first month on the job. Be­fore be­ing named CHSAA’s ninth com­mis­sioner in March, Blan­ford-Green was the as­sis­tant ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at the Louisiana High School Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at the Ne­braska School Ac­tiv­i­ties As­so­ci­a­tion from 2012-15 and a CHSAA as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner/as­so­ciate com­mis­sioner from 1996-2012. The Honolulu na­tive is a 1981 grad­u­ate of Aurora Cen­tral and was an All-Amer­i­can in track at the Uni­ver­sity of Ne­braska. Blan­ford-Green dis­cussed her up­bring­ing in a mil­i­tary fam­ily, her ca­reer jour­ney, her ad­min­is­tra­tive philoso­phies and more.

On the in­flu­ence of her well­trav­eled child­hood …

“I moved my fresh­man year from Fair­banks, Alaska, and at­tended Aurora Cen­tral my sopho­more through se­nior years. I’m an army brat, so I’ve been around — we lived in many states grow­ing up, in­clud­ing Ge­or­gia, Florida, Ken­tucky, Alaska and also Ja­pan. Ev­ery three years or so, we moved. When you’re a child in a mil­i­tary fam­ily like that, one of the ways I al­ways con­nected and be­came a part of the whole com­mu­nity was through ath­let­ics. Ev­ery state I was in, I did cheer­lead­ing; ev­ery state I was in, I did track — it made me re­al­ize ath­let­ics are an in­stant con­nec­tor to other kids and the cul­ture of a school. Be­cause of that in­volve­ment, I never felt that iso­la­tion piece from all the moves.”

On her cham­pi­onship track ca­reer at Ne­braska …

“I was re­cruited by sev­eral Divi­sion I schools, and I signed with Ne­braska, sight unseen. I had never been to the cam­pus, but it was one of the best de­ci­sions I could have made in terms of my ath­letic ca­reer as well as growth as an in­di­vid­ual. We had a lot of young and tal­ented ath­letes there, but the coaches had the mind-set of cre­at­ing cham­pi­ons, so from my fresh­man year through my ju­nior year, we were the na­tional cham­pi­ons each year as a team. … All I know was at that time, Ne­braska felt good, and I knew that it was close enough to Colorado so that I could come home if I was home­sick or for hol­i­days.”

On her ex­pe­ri­ence coach­ing col­lege track …

“I coached at the Uni­ver­sity of Wy­oming be­fore I ever went into the high school space, where for three years I was the as­sis­tant cross coun­try coach and as­sis­tant track coach in charge of men’s and women’s sprints and hur­dles. And that time, through be­ing placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive com­mit­tees and be­ing part of dif­fer­ent sides of ad­min­is­tra­tion in that job at Wy­oming, made me know my ca­reer path was go­ing to be on the ad­min­is­tra­tive level more so than on the coach­ing level. Af­ter that, I coached in both Aurora Pub­lic Schools and Cherry Creek Pub­lic Schools and from then on, it was never go­ing to be a ques­tion of whether I was go­ing to be in ath­let­ics. It was just whether it was go­ing to be on the in­ter­scholas­tic or in­ter­col­le­giate level.”

On the roots of her prior 16-year stint at CHSAA …

“Bob Ot­tewill, who was the com­mis­sioner at the time, had over 100 ap­pli­cants for two po­si­tions in 1995. And of the re­tirees, one was a fe­male and one was a male. It was just start­ing to be ac­cepted that women could lead in the state as­so­ci­a­tion of­fices, and so it was un­der­stood within the mem­ber­ship that they were ab­so­lutely go­ing to hire a fe­male be­cause of the dif­fer­ent sports be­ing of­fered, and it was the right thing to do for rep­re­sen­ta­tion within the of­fice. When I was of­fered the po­si­tion, I knew that Bob was tak­ing a chance on a pretty green ad­min­is­tra­tor — I was only 32 years old, which was pretty un­heard of back then — and that was the open­ing of the door for me to not only prove my­self, but to have a chance to move for­ward. From that day to when I left for Ne­braska in 2012, all those ex­pe­ri­ences pre- pared me for the op­por­tu­nity to be com­mis­sioner, as I got to work a lot in dif­fer­ent ar­eas with leg­is­la­tors, mar­keters and cor­po­rate part­ners with my strength of build­ing those re­la­tion­ships.”

On be­ing CHSAA’s first fe­male and first African-Amer­i­can com­mis­sioner …

“Out of all the can­di­dates that in­ter­viewed, there’s no ques­tion that what I bring to the ta­ble sur­passes what the job ex­pec­ta­tions re­quire. To be able to com­ple­ment the skill set and the com­pe­tency with a di­verse com­bi­na­tion of gen­der and eth­nic­ity speaks to how I can rep­re­sent what lead­er­ship looks like in the state of Colorado. It’s al­ways im­por­tant for me for peo­ple to un­der­stand that I’ve paid my dues over the course of my pro­fes­sional jour­ney, es­pe­cially if you look at where I’ve been and my con­sis­tent ded­i­ca­tion to keep kids first and to ed­u­ca­tion-based ath­let­ics.”

On the driv­ing fac­tor through­out her ca­reer …

“When I took the job at CHSAA in 1996, my thought process wasn’t that I’m do­ing ev­ery­thing to even­tu­ally be the com­mis­sioner one day. I took this job and be­came pas­sion­ate about this job and be­came im­pact­ful in this job be­cause it’s what I love to do.”

On what she brings to the ta­ble …

“CHSAA is one of the most re­spected state as­so­ci­a­tions, na­tion­ally, so the as­so­ci­a­tion doesn’t need sweep­ing changes. What I bring to the ta­ble is that di­verse per­spec­tive of hav­ing had mul­ti­ple ex­pe­ri­ences out­side of Colorado, and also un­der­stand­ing and hav­ing been in­volved in Colorado. I’m go­ing to bring a lot of en­ergy and pas­sion — any­one who knows me knows that — and a re­spon­si­bil­ity to do what’s right for all kids.”

Cour­tesy of Ryan Casey, CHSAANow.com

New CHSAA com­mis­sioner Rhonda Blan­ford-Green took over the as­so­ci­a­tion at the be­gin­ning of July.

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