LONE TREE — One thing was clear on Monday afternoon as Rhonda Blanford-Green kicked off the 2017-18 school year at the annual All-School Summit: She isn’t afraid of change.
“We’re not afraid to look at how activities and athletics are evolving, and not just dig our heels in,” Blanford-Green said.
Addressing the entire CHSAA membership for the first time in her new role as commissioner, Blanford-Green’s vision for the future was exemplified in a conversation she had with Alex Halpern, the Association’s legal counsel.
“I was speaking with Alex, our attorney, at the CASE conference,” Blanford-Green recalled, “and he said, ‘Rhonda, you know what, it’s like trying to drive a 1960s car in the 21st century.’ And he was speaking about our bylaws.
“We anticipate really starting to maybe not look at just the minor things, but really look at maybe taking our bylaw book apart and finding what’s still applicable, what’s still relevant,” Blanford-Green added.
In her speech, which opened the two-day All-School Summit, Blanford-Green laid out her overarching vision for CHSAA:
• She’s planning a tour of the state to attend every league meeting. “I really want to sit down in an intimate setting and find out where the membership wants to go,” she said.
• Though she’s not afraid of change, Blanford-Green’s aim is to “limit change in transition” as she begins her tenure.
“The staff that’s part of Colorado high school activities is second to none,” Blanford-Green said. “It’s highly-regarded nationally. Many of us sit on national committees, many of us speak at the national conference. CHSAA and Colorado are known for being in front of issues instead of being reactive.”
• She has started the formation of new committees — specifically, marketing/fundraising and technology — to meet new challenges.
• She wants to further the development of CHSAANow as a tool for promotion of high school activities, while also expanding its focus and partnership opportunities.
“For us, and from here on out, CHSAANow is the primary resource and the primary voice on high school athletics and activities in the state of Colorado,” Blanford-Green said. “No one else across the country has a CHSAANow, and we need to leverage that.”
• She wants to invite middle school and junior highs back into the CHSAA fold, and has already sent a letter seeking to do exactly that to more than 280 principals and athletic directors at that level.
“We are going to look at forming a committee to really start to train our parents and coaches and communities about what the expectations are when they reach the high school level,” Blanford-Green said. “Middle school activities should be about embracing participation, not regulation.”
It’s a vision that seemed to resonate with the gathered athletic directors, which included more than 80 new faces.
Blanford-Green said her aim, as she begins her role as the ninth commissioner of CHSAA, “is to just be consistent in making decisions about our bylaws to ensure education is a priority.”
The goal, she continued, is to “roll out some new initiatives that connect the most impactful student organizations, such as CADA, CHSCA, CASB and CASE, to make sure that our mission and our message is strong.”