2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Longtime Harrison boys’ hoops coach leaves for Discovery Canyon

Published: April 30, 2014, 7:14 pm, by Scott Kaniewski

Al Blanc, whose 41-year career at eight Colorado high schools has netted more than 600 career victories, late Wednesday afternoon officially became coach of the boys’ basketball team at Discovery Canyon.

Blanc earlier this week accepted an offer to become the Thunder’s third coach in program history.

“We’re really excited for what he brings to the table,” Discovery Canyon athletic director and assistant principal Sharon Lauer said. “He’s one of the winningest coaches in Colorado high school history. We do feel honored and privileged that he was looking at our program and wants to make an impact here.”

Blanc has sent a slew of his graduates off to the next level, most recently George Pollard (Mitchell to Colorado-Colorado Springs via McCook [Neb.] Junior College), Eric Rayer (Coronado to Metro State), Xavier Ford (Harrison to Buffalo) and Quincy Harding (Harrison to Otero Junior College), just to name a few.

A graduate of Glenwood Springs, Blanc graduated from Western State in 1975 and made his high school debut at Vilas (South Baca), where he coached the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams for five seasons.

He spent eight years in Delta, compiling in impressive 95-51 mark. He made his first mark on the Pikes Peak region in Falcon in the late 1980s, where we guided Falcon to a 66-8 mark over three seasons that included two 3A state semifinal appearances.

He won a 1A state championship at Swink in 1996, the highlight of a 111-12 run over five seasons. He then moved into the 4A ranks, coaching Pueblo East to a 143-57 mark in nine seasons, including a state semifinal appearance and two trips to the quarterfinals.

Blanc’s teams at Mitchell went 70-39 in three seasons, taking the Marauders to the 4A quarterfinals in 2009. Following his retirement from teaching, he later coached Coronado and Harrison for three and two seasons, respectively.

“I’ve had a good run, and that’s a tribute to the kids,” Blanc said. “The kids are the ones. They pull the wagon.”

Discovery Canyon struggled to a 5-18 mark in 2013-14, one season removed from a 17-win campaign and second-round journey into the 4A playoffs.

But Blanc sees the vast potential in his new endeavor.

“To me, it’s kind of like walking into a gold mine,” Blanc said. “You don’t know if you’ll strike it rich or not, but it’s there. They’re always going to have kids and players, and the school has a great system and leadership. With the elementary, middle and high school all connected, that’s really good.”

Kevin Carmody, The Gazette