Highly touted coach tabbed to lead Tigers | SummitDaily.com

Highly touted coach tabbed to lead Tigers

Summit Daily News
Special to the Daily/Brian Drake-The Bakersfield Californian

FARMER’S KORNER ” Mark Ruybal has come tantalizingly close to winning a high school state championship in boys basketball. Twice he coached the Arizona state runner-up in the 3A class. He followed those feats by reaching the state quarterfinals and semifinals in Bakersfield, Calif.

He was a two-time coach of the year in Arizona, and he has a reputation for getting the very most out of his teams, which have won a number of conference championships.

But about that state title. He still wants it. And he believes his latest move, to become the new head coach of the Summit High School boys basketball team, is the ideal spot to achieve it.

Ruybal was named the Tigers’ head coach recently by SHS athletic director Gretchen Nies, and it’s tough to tell which of the two parties ” the new coach or his new boss ” is more pleased with the news.

“I’ve been close to state championships my whole career and haven’t got it,” said Ruybal, who grew up in Aurora and learned the coaching trade as a student assistant under legendary former Colorado State coach Boyd Grant. “It looks like Summit High School could be a place where I could get one.”

“He is what we look for in a coach,” said Nies, whose coaching search included five “serious considerations” ” all of which were from out of state ” as she sought to replace Mike Rathgeber, who led an overachieving Tigers squad to a 14-10 record last season before resigning for personal reasons.

When asked if anything in particular made Ruybal stand out, Nies said, “His ability to connect with the kids, that was apparent right away.”

The two returning Tiger players on the selection committee “picked him out and said, ‘This is the guy we’d like to have as our coach,'” Nies said.

The move couldn’t come at a better time for Ruybal, a 47-year-old workaholic who described his affiliations this way: “I’m living in Bakersfield right now, but I consider myself a Colorado guy.”

He spends “at least one hour a day” on basketball in the offseason, and “five to six” hours a day when the season is in session. This past Wednesday afternoon, he’d already watched an hourlong video by former college coach Jim Harrick on rebounding and low-post fundamentals when interviewed for this story.

Ruybal said he’s won more than 70 percent of his games as a high school head coach, and it comes from preparation you don’t often see at this level ” especially at a school in the mountains that competes against mainly Front Range opponents.

He makes a point of seeing every foe before playing them.

“If I don’t have film on them, I’ll go scout them in person,” he said. “If they have a stud I’m gonna take him out. I’m going to attack their weaknesses.”

Ruybal, whose wife attended elementary school in Silverthorne, will also serve as an assistant golf coach for the Tigers, as well as a P.E. teacher at the high school.

More than anything, he said, he’s looking forward to returning to the state in which he launched his career.

“I’ve been on the bench for 15 years now, and it’s just pretty much time to get home,” he said.

Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-4633, or at doneil@summitdaily.com.

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