Picture a scenario in which your most bitter sports rival suddenly merged to become one team with your favorite team.
That hypothetical situation was all too real for the newly formed 1A North Fork football team this past February.
The Delta County School District 50J made the difficult decision to merge Hotchkiss and Paonia high schools, which were located just nine miles apart, into one high school called North Fork.
The two schools were classic regional rivals, playing the annual North Fork Bowl every season. Ironically, the two schools finished tied in the all-time series, 10-10.
Head coach Curtis Hintz was the man tasked with bringing these two rival programs together to become one. Coach Hintz immediately set to work bringing together his new "blended family" of coaches and players. He always prioritized timely and inclusive communication with his team, which served him well during the transition.
Following a summer built on team bonding and promotion of the new team, Coach Hintz and the players he had influenced on the football field and in the weight room led the student body in recognizing that former rivals could now be teammates and friends. It is also paying dividends on the gridiron, as the Miners are 5-2 on the season and ranked No. 10 in 1A. They most recently defeated Roaring Fork, 54-6, to snap a two-game losing streak.
Miner Pride is alive and well in the small town of Hotchkiss, and Coach Hintz's leadership is a major part of that. Hintz is this week's Broncos High School Coach of the Week.
The Broncos Coach of the Week is selected in partnership with CHSAA.
Curtis Hintz bio
Years as North Fork head coach (record): First Year (5-2)
Overall head coaching record: 28-19
Coaching resume: Hotchkiss Defensive Coordinator 2003-2014; Hotchkiss Head Coach 2016-2020; North Fork Head Coach 2021; Hotchkiss Middle School Wrestling Coach 2004-2013; Hotchkiss High School Wrestling Assistant 2014-2019; Hotchkiss Middle School Track Coach 2004; Hotchkiss High School Track Assistant Coach 2005-2021
Quotes from Curtis Hintz
Why do you coach?
Hintz: I coach for the opportunity to build relationships outside of the classroom, and to teach life lessons that I learned through athletics.
Why do you coach the way that you coach?
Hintz: I have been fortunate to have been coached by some great men and to have coached alongside great coaches as well. I think I have taken bits and pieces from each, all while being true to myself and my coaching style. I try to hold student-athletes accountable day-in and day-out for their efforts and attitudes on and off the field.
What do you think it's like to be coached by you?
Hintz: I believe my student athletes feel that I am firm, but fair. That I provide a welcoming environment and a positive culture that is based on hard work and doing the right thing. They know that I am there for them anytime, on or off the field; I am someone they can count on.
What has been your favorite memory from being the HC for North Fork so far?
Hintz: My favorite memory so far this season was our win at Center in week one. Witnessing the hard work over the summer pay off and seeing the joy in the kids' faces after that win will stick with me.
What has it been like for your team to be 5-2 and ranked in the top-10 this season?
Hintz: It has been a great start to the year, looking to close out the regular season strong these last two weeks. The kids have worked hard and have really come together as a team over the first seven games.
Describe what it has taken for you and your staff to get this team from where it was when the school's merged to where it is today?
Hintz: I am lucky to have a great administration team in Randal Palmer and Amy Miller. Their leadership has helped smooth the transition. I am fortunate to have a great coaching staff, with coaches from both programs, that came together during summer weights and when we went to the Western State Camp in July. I have alumni from both schools on the staff and Eric Hollembeak as well. Coach Hollembeak is a veteran coach and has coached North Fork Middle School Football the past four years, having him on staff has given all the kids a familiar face and voice with the high school program. But the credit goes to the kids, they have truly come together as a team, and have worked together towards one common goal.
What does this team now mean to the community? How has the community come together to support a team that used to be two separate teams?
Hintz: I think the football program is an important part to the North Fork Community. The community support has been outstanding. It has been great seeing the fences lined with community members and the stands full at each home game. The North Fork Communities have been very gratuitous in their support of NF Football; we had a great turn out at our golf tournament fundraiser.
Story Written By: Dan Whitaker/CHSAANow.com
Photo Credit: Matt Hall