Colorado students really get into the games

Column by Jim Benton
Posted 7/3/17

A participation survey released in June shows a rise in the number of student-athletes in Colorado high schools.

During the 2016-17 school year, 60.3 percent of students enrolled at high schools …

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Colorado students really get into the games


A participation survey released in June shows a rise in the number of student-athletes in Colorado high schools.

During the 2016-17 school year, 60.3 percent of students enrolled at high schools that were members of the Colorado High School Activities Association took part in sports. That's 139,969 teenagers who could call themselves student-athletes, according to figures released by CHSAA.

Those figures are the highest for Colorado since the yearly survey was started following the 1988-89 season. There were 138,600 student athletes in 2015-16, or 58.4 percent of students enrolled.

Additional classifications were added in girls golf, girls swimming and girls tennis last season, which helped the growth with an additional 1,682 students participating.

There's been talk of the growing popularity of boys lacrosse, but there were actually 87 fewer boys who played lacrosse last spring than in 2016. However, the Adams 12 Five Star district did not field lacrosse teams, forcing athletes there to play elsewhere or not play at all.

And there were 158 fewer athletes who donned football uniforms in 2016 compared to the 2015 season. Still, football remained the largest participatory sport, with 16,686 students suiting up. Combined, boys and girls basketball had 16,261 participants.

There were several sports showing minimal increases and decreases, which is normal from year-to-year. Boys hockey showed one of the largest increases, with 165 more participants, partially due to the addition of two new teams.

"Colorado has always had strong participation numbers, reflecting the importance of the values you learn by participating in a community-based program," CSHAA Commissioner Paul Angelico said in a news release. "These students are learning to be part of something bigger than themselves, about how the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back."

A chip on his shoulder

Former Legend High School basketball player Derrick White had to prove he could be a standout college basketball player and it appears he will have to do it again in the National Basketball Association.

White, a 2014 Legend graduate, didn't receive any Division I scholarship offers, so he accepted a partial scholarship to Division II University of Colorado Colorado Springs, where he played for three seasons, became an All-American and holds UCCS career records for assists and steals and is second in points.

He transferred to CU, played one season, led the Buffs in scoring with an 18.1 average and was a first-team All-Pac 12 selection.

The guard was the 29th pick in the June 22 first round of the NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs. But several draft analysts say White only has a modest NBA ceiling. Still, he has demonstrated the talent and quick release to get off shots and has the good basketball sense and defensive ability that can help despite his lack of the athleticism of many NBA players.

As a 6-foot senior at Legend, White averaged 17.1 points and 3.1 assists but he grew in size and ability. He was measured at 6-5 prior to the NBA draft.

"You have your doubters, you just put a little chip on your shoulder," he said in a post-draft conference call. "It was humbling at times but it made me work harder just to keep that chip on my shoulder to continue to never be satisfied."

New ThunderRidge coach

ThunderRidge will have its third boys lacrosse coach in the past four seasons next spring.

Athletic Director Sean Patterson announced that Marko White, who coached the past two seasons at Leon High in Tallahassee, Florida, has been tabbed as the new Grizzlies' coach.

Four in the semifinals

There were four former area high school golfers who made the semifinals of the Colorado Golf Association Match Play held June 19-23 at The Club at Ravenna in the Roxborough area.

University of Denver golfer Chris Korte, a 2014 Regis Jesuit graduate playing out of the Lone Tree Golf Club, defeated Kyle Pearson, 5 and 3, to win the title on June 23. Pearson was last year's Class 5A champion from Highlands Ranch and will play at Colorado Mesa University.

Korte recorded a 3-and-1 semifinal victory over Colorado State golfer Jake Staiano, who played high school golf at Valor Christian. Pearson topped Kyler Dunkle in 21 holes in the semifinals. Dunkle was the 2013 state champion at Douglas County High. He played at Colorado State but has transferred to the University of Utah.

Soccer star honored

ThunderRidge junior Shae Holmes, a United States U18 national team defender who played forward in high school, has been named the Gatorade Colorado Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

Holmes scored 20 goals and had seven assists for the Grizzlies during the 2017 season.

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at or at 303-566-4083.

Jim Benton


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