“Well, it’s kind of a long story,” Alan Colglazier said.
Mullen’s head coach of softball, accomplished nationally as well as world wide as a player, was referring to the recent, prominent additions of well-known figures who will serve as assistant coaches, Dave Atencio and Tony Lopez, on his staff.
“I’ve known them for a long time,” Colglazier said. “Obviously, with our program, we want it to be the best in the state and along with doing that we wanted to have the best coaching staff.”
It’s a move in the right direction. Mullen now has the most-experienced staff in the local game. Along with Kaylie Titus, who completed her first season as an assistant with Colglazier, Atencio, who was with Dakota Ridge and Valor Christian, and Lopez, a former Mullen head coach, bring an extra five decades or so of high-end experience and know-how to the Mustangs program.
“Over the course of time, girls have been going to Valor or Mullen,” Colglazier said. “We sat down as good friends and asked, ‘Why are we beating our heads against the wall, why don’t we join forces and make Mullen an opportunity for girls to come to, obviously, as students, but also to learn softball?’
“We met (the past) Saturday and talked about the experience we’ll have.”
There is a lot of it. Atencio, who was considering taking a year or two off from the game “to kind of recharge the batteries,” also lost his father and was helping his mother. His long list of accolades in the game includes being at Jefferson County’s Chatfield for three years, moving over to Dakota Ridge when it opened in 1996 and eventually winning a state title along with three other championship-game showings, as well as the last six seasons heading powerful Valor that included titles from 2014-16 and a crack 93-4 record.
“We’ve been doing this a long time, we’re all buddies and we all played fastpitch,” he said.
Lopez, who was with Atencio for all of their years at Valor, was Mullen’s head coach for 12 years, 17 total with the school, and headed the program when it last won a championship, in 2001. He had a career record of 193-75, was coach of the year twice, made three final fours and last led the Mustangs in 2012.
“I’m excited, really excited” he said. “That’s lots of softball we used to play when men’s fastpitch was the thing around here.”
He insists the girls game grew so quickly “because none of the men’s pitchers (notably in Denver and Pueblo) would teach the younger guys and once they started having daughters, they sure taught them how to pitch.”
Colglazier said the two additions will begin work immediately, as the Mustangs will have Monday workouts and the long-term plan will be in place – he will work with pitchers and catchers, Atencio will join Titus in handling the infield and defense, and Lopez will center on hitting.
“We can now focus on things,” Colglazier said.