AURORA — Ernie Derrera, currently the athletic director at Frederick High School, has been hired to join CHSAA's staff as an assistant commissioner.
Incoming CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green confirmed the hire on Friday morning.
"Today was a win-win for educationally-based high school activities in Colorado," she said. "Ernie brings his experiences from rural schools, metro schools, along with a committed effort to non-traditional student-activities to our Association. We are fortunate to be able add him to our office.
"We had several quality and outstanding candidates for the position who had great depth of knowledge, experience and passion for high school activities. The selection committee was impressed with each candidate."
Derrera will join the staff officially on July 1. His specific duties are still to be determined.
"Truthfully, I'm incredibly humbled," Derrera said. "When I got into being an AD, and I decided that athletic administration was going to be my pursuit professionally, the two end-goals I had were either a CHSAA job, or a district AD job. It's something that's been a goal of mine for a long time."
Since 2015, Derrera has been the athletic director at Frederick. Previously, he was the AD, a teacher and cross country coach at Thompson Valley (2000-05; 2009-15), and a teacher and wrestling coach at Roosevelt (2005-09). He recently retired as Master Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy, a role he held since 1987.
Derrera is no stranger to the CHSAA office.
At various times, Derrera has helped to pilot the InsideOut Coaching Initiative, has served as the chair of CHSAA's wrestling committee, been a site director at softball, hosted regional tournaments, and also took part in the You Can Play! public service announcement. He has also served on the swimming and diving committee.
Last summer, he attended CHSAA's student leadership conference to learn more about the activity even though Frederick didn't have any students attending. He was quickly enlisted to help with aspects of the conference.
"Ernie, through his exemplary leadership and experiences, will provide a diverse perspective that is representative of the students and communities that we serve," Blanford-Green said. "It is a connection that the Association has needed for some time, and to provide that piece of puzzle strengthens our CHSAA mission and vision."
As the wrestling committee chair, he helped to spearhead an initiative promoting girls wrestling, and actually hosted the first-ever girls-only wrestling tournament at Frederick. Derrera also helped develop a new type of classification system that equally balanced the classes. That model has since been implemented across all individual sports.
"He was a catalyst in starting girls wrestling," Blanford-Green said. "What Colorado started is becoming a national model. Other state associations are seeking his expertise as they look to start a grassroots effort with their own girls wrestling initiatives."
"There definitely is a familiarity," Derrera said of his new role at CHSAA. "I have been fortunate enough to be asked by some of the assistant commissioners and trusted by the office to be involved in a lot of different levels, and a lot of different aspects in what the Association does, in both the athletic and the activity arenas.
"I know that there's going to be a steep learning curve, as with any new position, but I am confident that the CHSAA staff and administrators will assist me in this transition with the activities I'm given."