AURORA — Seeing a fit as trailblazers and innovative thinkers who come from backgrounds as coaches and athletic administrators, commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green has announced the hires of Adam Bright and Justin Saylor to the CHSAA staff.
Bright is currently the athletic director in Durango, and Saylor is the manager of high school athletics for Denver Public Schools. Bright and Saylor, hired as assistant commissioners, will begin their new roles on July 1.
"I am unbelievably excited to announce these new additions to our team," Blanford-Green said. "They will both bring valuable experience from their current and past roles, and also bring the type of forward-thinking mentality necessary to stay relevant with the future of interscholastic administration and student participation.
"Both Justin and Adam have a combination of educationally-based leadership and diverse backgrounds that will continue to keep Colorado at the forefront nationally," Blanford-Green added. "They are each difference-makers with student-participants across the state."
Said Saylor: "It is something that I have always been passionate about, and I am interested in. When the job opened up this year, I felt like it was perfect timing for myself, and I was really excited about the possibility of working at CHSAA. When I found out that I did get the job, I was really excited, and I am also ready to hit the ground running when that time comes."
Said Bright: "It's exciting, and I'm humbled. There's a great tradition at CHSAA, and I want to be a part of that tradition. We've got the 100-year mark coming up here in a couple of years, and I want to be a part of that, and continue where CHSAA's going, and be part of that journey."
Blanford-Green will officially assign their duties, including the sports and activities they will oversee, prior to their start date.
The duo replace Bud Ozzello, who is retiring after nine years at CHSAA, and Ernie Derrera, who has accepted a job as an assistant principal/athletic director at the new Severance High School.
Bright has most recently been the athletic director at Durango, a role that has since grown to a district athletic director position.
At Durango, Bright has sought to make each game or meet he held a spectacular event. His forte is raising the bar for high school events, including when he recently spearheaded the school's hosting of the state skiing championships last month, and set up an opening ceremony complete with fireworks.
"For me, our purpose in being in education-based athletics and activities is to help teach life lessons," Bright said. "But I think life lessons really get attached to different degrees through experiences. If we can make our events something that's a big experience, that will make all of those life lessons that our coaches want to teach more impactful."
On a state level, Bright has served on the Classification and League Organizing and Appeals Committee, as well as the Bylaw Handbook Committee.
Bright stressed that he would miss living in Durango and being part of that community on a day-to-day basis.
"We're going to miss living in the community," Bright said. "If CHSAA was located in Durango, it'd be a win-win."
Prior to Durango, Bright was the athletic director and football coach at Middle Park from 2013-16.
A native of Texas, he was also the head football coach and athletic director at Winters High School, and an assistant football coach at Caprock in Amarillo, Tex. Bright also was a football assistant at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
Bright's other experience includes time as a general manager in minor league baseball — with the Greenville (Miss.) Bluesman and West Tenn Jaxx in Jackson, Tenn. — and in the front office of the MLB's Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Bright and his wife, Jessica, have a son, Preston.
Bright said that working at CHSAA was "an opportunity to do what we do through educationally-based activities for our students at Durango High School, and we get to do that for numerous kids across the state. While it may be less of a day-to-day, one-on-one impact, I think the ripple effect is bigger."
Saylor has been with Denver Public Schools since 2008, helping to facilitate the district's athletics for more than 90,000 students. He started with the district's middle school athletics, and has been involved with their high school athletics since 2011. Saylor is a Certified Master Athletic Administrator.
"I think it's an exciting new challenge for me to now work at the state level," Saylor said. "It's an opportunity for me, as a former collegiate soccer player, as a lacrosse player, to kind of give some exposure at the state level to some sports that aren't quite as visible and to hopefully take some of those sports to the next level."
Saylor's sports roots started in his native Ohio, where he grew up playing soccer, lacrosse and football in Cleveland. After high school, he played college soccer at Hofstra and Wilmington College. His dad has served as the girls lacrosse coach at Cleveland Heights High School for more than 30 years.
"I grew up the son of a coach," Saylor said. "High school athletics have always been a passion of mine. It really shaped me as a person growing up playing sports in high school."
Saylor got his professional start in athletics as the head lacrosse coach at Dublin Coffman (Ohio). After moving to DPS, he became the chair of the CHSAA soccer committee from 2012-18. At DPS, he serves on the district-wide waiver committee regarding student eligibility.
He has also been very involved in event management at the state level, serving as a state tournament site host for field hockey, boys lacrosse, boys soccer, girls soccer and boys golf. He was also a regional host for wrestling, cross country, boys golf, girls golf and softball.
Additionally, Saylor has served on seeding committees for baseball, basketball, girls soccer, boys soccer and softball.
Outside of high school sports, Saylor has also worked as part of the event management team for the NCAA women's basketball Final Four in Denver, and in Cleveland.
Saylor said it was a hard decision to leave DPS, and that he was looking forward to what's ahead.
"I've made a lot of really, really great hopefully lifetime friends over the last 11 years at Denver Public Schools," Saylor said. "I've always said to myself that the only way I would leave Denver Public Schools was if it was the perfect and the right situation for me, and I feel like this is. It's the right decision for me, and I'm looking forward to continuing to working with a lot of my friends, just in a little bit different capacity, and serving the state of Colorado."
Blanford-Green said she was inspired by the applicant pool the positions drew.
"Thank you to all the administrators and community advocates that sought to be a part of the CHSAA team," Blanford-Green said. "I was inspired by the candidate pool for these positions, as we know we will continue to have excellence in the field, as well as in our office."