Elder Dayton named SHS head coach | SummitDaily.com

Elder Dayton named SHS head coach

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk

FARMER’S KORNER – The Summit High School Nordic ski team didn’t have to look far to find its new head coach.Gene Dayton will now helm the Tigers’ ship after four years as an assistant.”It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Dayton said. “And the opportunity to work with Matt was really the icing on the cake.”As SHS head coach, Dayton will be working more closely with his son, Matt Dayton, the director of the Summit Nordic Ski Club.”We essentially share the same athletes,” Matt Dayton said. “They need consistency – they can’t be getting mixed messages from their club and high school coaches.”

The Nordic club team was founded in 2004 and has co-existed harmoniously with the high school ever since.According to outgoing SHS coach, Tom Sain, the relationships between the two teams is rare. “A lot of clubs around the state ignore their high school teams,” Sain said. “In Summit, the vast majority of kids are on both teams.”The Daytons will thus be assisting each other at both high school and Rocky Mountain Division club events throughout the winter season.Despite being the elder coach, Gene Dayton is in awe of his son’s knowledge.”Not too many guys have what I consider a Ph.D. in skiing,” he said. “But he’s one of them. He’s had the best training that’s known in this country.”

Matt Dayton, who competed in the 2002 Olympics, appreciates his dad’s skiing insights and ability to encourage kids.”He has a good eye for things that need to be done,” Matt Dayton said. “Things a lot of people don’t see.”One thing Gene Dayton sees in his athletes is their inner animal.”I tell the kids, there’s a graceful animal inside of them,” he said. “And it’s my job to coax it out to where it can enjoy itself to the fullest in an athletic arena.”Sain’s act may be tough for Gene Dayton to follow – the outgoing coach led the Tigers to three state championships in his two years (two for the girls, one for the boys). Summit has won 33 titles overall.

If Gene Dayton has any concerns about his new position, it’s keeping up the Tigers’ winning tradition.”I don’t want to lose the state championship,” he said. “The goal is to maintain the legacy over time, but the bar constantly gets raised. People have higher expectations – it’s an automatic thing.”Gene Dayton will be the fifth Tigers head coach in six years, and there’s a good chance his presence may curb the turnover rate for awhile.”I’ll do it until someone comes along that has the passion for it that I do,” he said. “Then I’ll feel comfortable turning it over.”Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-4634, or at aboffey@summitdaily.com.

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