Plenty of experience always helps a person moving into a new position, and Trinidad High School’s new Athletic Director (AD) Ernest Bain certainly fills that bill with nearly 30 years experience in the coaching and teaching field at high schools in Colorado, California and Minnesota.
Bain and his wife of nearly 26 years, Lori, have four kids, two of them stepchildren. He’s taught social studies at the high school for the past three years, a tenure that’s included one year as head high school baseball coach and two seasons as a volunteer football coach.
He talked about the challenges and opportunities he saw before him as athletic director in a Wednesday, July 31 interview. He’d just returned from a two-day meeting of CHSAA (Colorado High School Athletic Association), which recently signed a contract to establish a pilot program for e-sports, to give all those computer savvy students of today a new way to compete and have fun on multiple devices.
Trinidad High School has only a few, limited opportunities for students to take part in intramural sports, such as the Annual Powder Puff Football Game and the three-on-three basketball tournament. Bain said he thought e-sports might fill the bill as a new and interesting way to stimulate the competitive fires for the students of today.
He started his new job as the Mighty Miners’ AD just two weeks ago and was asked about the differences between coaching individual sports and being in charge of an entire athletic department.
“I think the one thing about being a coach is that you’re just focused on your one sport, so it’s the equipment for that sport, the players, the eligibility and the schedules for just that one sport,” he said. “When you become the athletic director, now you’ve got to worry about all of the sports, coaching staffs, players, parents, booster clubs, and whatever new CHSAA rules they come down with. I think you have to stay on top of all that, and make sure the kids are all eligible, that they’re all in the ‘Planet High School’ program, which used to be called ‘Arbiter.’ What the kids do is they download their physicals, any paperwork that needs to be done, and that way there’s a database for CHSAA and for us to make sure every athlete has their own profile page.”
Developing a new culture regarding team and individual sports was a key goal for Trinidad athletics going into the future, he said. “I think it has to do with just creating a culture here at the high school with the coaches, and running programs where the kids want to come out,” he said. “I think that always helps, but I think it’s more important that the coaches are teachers, leaders, role models and once you can establish that, then the kids are going to talk to each other and say, ‘Hey, you want to come out for this sport.’
“I think an example would be our new Head Football Coach Justin Milano. He’s been really positive and upbeat. The kids have been really happy and they’re working hard, and I think that’s going to pay off.”
The fall sports season is just around the corner as the high school golf team begins practices on Monday, August 5 and football practice starts one week later. The first full day of classes at all four of Trinidad’s public schools is set for Monday, August 27.
Trinidad’s traditional sports league memberships have changed over the past few years, as ongoing declines in the district’s student population have caused a drop in classifications for some sports. The high school football team now competes in the Class 1A Santa Fe League, which besides Trinidad includes Banning Lewis Preparatory Academy, a new school in Colorado Springs, Ellicott, Peyton and Rocky Ford.
Bain said he knew he had plenty of work to do in terms of keeping Trinidad kids going to, and competing for their hometown school, as opposed to transferring to other schools in the area. He was asked to share his vision for the future of Trinidad High School athletics. “I think really for me the biggest thing is to get as many kids as possible out for all of the sports. We also want to develop what we’ve already started here as far as turning the programs around and making them competitive and successful. We want athletics to be another positive influence and force here at the high school.”
He thanked High School Principal Chuck Smithey for easing his transition into his new position. “Actually, Chuck has been tremendous. Any question I’ve had, he’s been more than helpful in giving his advice, his experiences, things to watch out for, to be heads up about, ‘you know this is coming up, so watch for it.’ He is a wealth of information,”
The athletics program at Trinidad High School belonged to the entire community. “I speak for the administration and the coaches when I say that we are doing everything we can to bring back Mighty Miner athletics. We’ve lost kids to other schools, to GOAL Academy and others. So that’s one of the things we’re focusing on. How to keep the kids in our district is a key issue for us.
“One of the biggest things is that we are the only school in Las Animas County that’s part of the Alliance Program with Colorado State University. With Louis Rino as our counselor, our graduating seniors are getting a tremendous amount of money for scholarships and academic awards to go on to higher education. That’s a huge selling point and a lot of people in the County don’t realize that. I’ve hit the ground running and just trying to keep my head above water with everything that’s going on.”
Smithey said he was glad that Bain had come on board as the high school’s athletic director. “I’m happy he’s come on board as
Athletic Director and I’ll tell you why,” Smithey said. “I’ve got very good reports from our coaches. They believe in him and he believes in them. Plus, the kids know him and they believe in what he can do. So that’s the fantastic thing about it.”