Every competitive athletic season, the Colorado Academy Department of Athletics recognizes, through the Captain’s Award, an individual who recently completed or is close to finishing their competitive season and who possesses the qualities that we look for in our CA team leaders: work ethic, integrity, leadership, commitment, dedication, and being a role model both on and off the field. This winter season, there were five very worthy candidates nominated by their coaches for this honor. Senior Andrew Koclanes stood out amongst his peers as this season’s Captain’s Award recipient.
This year the CA Boys Basketball program was moved by CHSAA to the 4A level. Although we are one of the smallest 4A teams competing in basketball this year, the Mustangs have proven a tough opponent. The leadership provided by Koclanes as the lone Senior on this year’s team has been impactful for the young Mustangs. When asked why this year’s team has performed at such a high level, he replied, “Because everyone knows their role and is comfortable with their role as it pertains to the larger group, and we all genuinely care about each other. This team is special.”
Koclanes, who came to CA as a Kindergartener, has grown into his role over the years. As a Ninth Grader and Sophomore, Koclanes played sparingly as a forward, relieving older teammates and always providing energy and a spark off the bench. He moved into a more permanent starting role as a Junior, but let the older players on the team handle the ball the majority of the time. This year, Koclanes has played almost like a point guard and has shown a tremendous proclivity for finding the open player, especially Junior Jason Bratis. Coach Hyatt trusts Koclanes to run the show, along with Juniors George Buyers and Clayton Johnson and Sophomore Clyde Love. Koclanes ranks in the top 50 (#46) in the nation in assists per game at 7.6.
Hyatt says this about Koclanes: “Andrew exhibits the qualities that are essential to be a CA team captain. His work ethic, integrity, leadership, commitment, dedication, and status as a role model both on and off the court are exceptional. He always puts the team first! Andrew is not interested in his own personal glory. Instead, he looks for ways to serve his team to help them accomplish their goals…. In my 35-plus years of coaching basketball, Andrew Koclanes is the best leader that I have ever had! He sets an example and inspires his teammates to do more because of his passion and enthusiasm for the game of basketball.”
Koclanes will attend the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., next year and will play basketball there. Cal Tech’s Head Basketball Coach, Dr. Oliver Eslinger, states that he is extremely excited to have the opportunity to coach Koclanes for the next four years.
The Boys Basketball Team had a thrilling Sweet Sixteen victory last Saturday versus a tough Severance squad. The Mustangs were up 12 at one point in the second half, but the Silver Knights proved pesky and led late in the fourth quarter, 61-58. With seven seconds left on the clock, Koclanes coolly dribbled down court and swished a three-point basket to tie the game at 61 with three seconds remaining. On the ensuing Severance possession, the Mustangs stole the ball, Koclanes recovered it, was fouled by an opponent, and then, with complete confidence, he hit the first of two free throws to ice the game, 62-61. Although Koclanes missed the next free throw (perhaps on purpose) he collected the rebound and dribbled out the remaining time. Koclanes and his Mustang teammates will play in the Elite Eight at the Denver Coliseum on Friday, March 3, at 5:30 p.m. vs. Holy Family. This will be the seventh time in 10 years that the Mustangs under Hyatt’s leadership have advanced to the Elite Eight in Boys Basketball.
The four other CA winter captains nominated by their coaches for the Captain’s Award deserve mention. Junior Sydney Leach, Climbing; Senior Elliot Rutherford, Ice Hockey; Senior Jo Rydberg, Swimming; and Junior Naomi Wolff, Girls Basketball were all cited by their coaches for their exemplary leadership, outstanding character, and fine performance representing the CA community.
Come out on Friday to support the Boys Basketball Team at the Coliseum and check the CA website for more playoff information and spring sports schedules. Go Mustangs!