Colorado lost a legend last week with the passing of Tom Hancock, who died at age 90. He was a member of the CHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2008.
The architect of a football powerhouse Lakewood High School, Hancock served 34 years as a teacher, coach and, ultimately, director of physical education for Jefferson County Public Schools. He retired from coaching in 1968, but not from impacting the lives of the district’s students until 1988.
Hancock’s teams won three state titles during his 15 years at the helm. His teams won 10 Jefferson County League titles and never finished lower than second, averaging over nine wins a season.
From 1954-1968, Hancock’s teams certainly put a stamp on the state’s high school football history but, more importantly, they became a rallying point for a community that had so long looked for something to set that community apart in a sport that was dominated by the bigger cities in the state. Over those 15 seasons, the Tigers went 137-30-3, winning 78.7% of their games. They won three state championships (1960, 1964, 1968), were runners-up three times and won 10 league titles.
Hancock also coached wrestling and a state-championship track team, but developed a passion in his players something to set them apart. He introduced weight lifting as an integral part of high school athletics.
A Greeley native, Hancock was named the state’s outstanding wrestler in 1946 after winning the State 154-pound Championship for Greeley High. His success on the mat came as no surprise since his father, John Hancock, was Colorado’s father of prep wrestling. After a brief stint at the University of Iowa, Hancock moved on to play football and wrestle at the University of Colorado, where he started at linebacker in 1948 and 1949.