ARVADA — The names conjure up thousands of memories of athletic accomplishments for those familiar to Jeffco Public Schools.
Annie Kunz, Matt Rillos, Don McGatlin, Peter Horvath and Frank DeAngelis were permanently immortalized Friday at the Arvada Center. The five former Jeffco athletes and coaches were inducted as the Class of 2017 to the Jeffco Athletic Hall of Fame.
“I get to come in with so many of your heroes,” McGatlin said of his entry into the hall of fame. “I appreciate so much Jim Thyfault (Executive Director of Athletics) and Jefferson County for allowing me to be apart of this wonderful group of people. It’s emotional today.”
McGatlin was one of the highlights in one of the strongest induction classes ever for the hall of fame. The longtime Green Mountain High School football and track coach guided the Rams to five state titles from his tenure from 1981 to 2005. Even after leaving Green Mountain, McGatlin hasn’t stopped coaching.
He is currently an assistant football coach at Chatfield High School under his son and head coach Bret McGatlin, along with being a track coach at Calhan High School.
“I can’t get away from it,” McGatlin said of coaching. “I’ll coach until I feel like I’m not doing a good job. Right now I could see coaching into my 70s.”
Kunz is also still chasing her athletic passions. The 24-year-old — arguably one of the best female athletes to come out of the Jeffco and maybe Colorado — is currently training at the Olympic Training Center in San Diego. She placed 8th in the Heptathlon at the 2016 Olympic Trails and holds the school records at Texas A&M University in both the Pentathlon & Heptathlon.
“2020 is the ultimate goal,” the Wheat Ridge High School graduate said about the Olympics three years from now in Tokyo. “Building up to that and hopefully peaking at the right time.”
The spring belonged to Kunz during her time at Wheat Ridge. She not only was a track star, but led the Farmers to three straight Class 4A girls soccer state championship games with Wheat Ridge winning two state titles.
Despite going on to Texas A&M where she helped the Aggies women’s soccer team advance to the NCAA National semifinals her senior year and being a two-time All-SEC first team selection, Kunz was a surprised when she got the call that she had been selected for induction.
“Definitely not so soon,” Kunz said about being one of the youngest Jeffco Athletic HOF inductees ever. “I joked with my mom that I don’t feel like I’ve done anything yet to deserve to be in the hall of fame. I’m definitely just grateful, honored and humbled to be apart of such a wonderful group. Being apart of the Jeffco community means the world to me.”
It was the 32nd year Jeffco has added to its athletic hall of fame that started in 1986. The names of nearly the 100 athletes, coaches and contributors who have been inducted are displayed on plaques at the atrium at Jeffco Stadium.
A four-sport (football, basketball, track and baseball) athlete at Golden High School from 1992-1996. Was Golden’s valedictorian his senior year, along with winning the Freddie Steinmark, Gold Helmet (The Denver Post) and Jeffco Male Athlete of the Year honors.
“He (Rillos) had an unbelievable senior year,” said current Ralston Valley football coach Matt Loyd who coached Rillos at Golden.
That incredible senior year included Rillos coming out for baseball. It was his first year playing high school baseball and Loyd joked about how Rillos showed up for the first practice with a borrowed glove and wood bat. However, he turned out to be the best player on the team that season and was an all-conference selection.
Rillos went on to play football at the Air Force Academy. He was a running back on the Falcons’ 1998 team that were Western Athletic Conference champions with a 12-1 overall record while finishing No. 8 in the nation.
Currently, Rillos is the owner of Financial Counsel Associates in Golden.
Horvath was the boys and girls head varsity soccer coach at Columbine High School from 1983-2008.
During his 25 years of coaching the Rebels’ soccer programs Columbine won 19 Jeffco League titles, grabbed eight state runner-up trophies and the boys team won three state championships (1986, 1993 and 2002).
Horvath talked during his induction speech about his goal when he first began coaching — “To create an experience and environment for our players and athletes that wasn’t just based on soccer. It was about life experiences and developing our players into people, not just players. It was about character and values. I think I did a good job doing that.”
Horvath was named coach of the year several times and was inducted into the Colorado High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.
While being remember mostly as Columbine High School’s principal for 18 years, DeAngelis has a rich background in athletes.
He was an assistant football coach at Columbine and the head baseball coach for the Rebels from 1981-1994. Three times he was selected at the Jeffco’s baseball Coach of the Year.
During his acceptance speech, DeAngelis said being a coach for so many years before stepping into the role of principal helped him lead the school and community after the tragic shooting at Columbine High School in 1999.
Fittingly, just before DeAngelis retired as principal at Columbine the Rebels’ girls soccer team won the first girls state team title in the school’s history claiming the 2014 Class 5A state championship.