Longtime Ignacio High School Basketball Coach Lee Larson is recognized for his successful career at the helm of the I.H.S. basketball team. The Bobcats’ retired coach is now a member of the Ignacio High School Coaches Wall of Fame. Larson took the Bobcats to back-to-back State Championships, winning the 1988 state title. By Connor Shreve. This story is sponsored by Happy Pappy’s Pizza & Wings and Tafoya Barrett & Associates.
The Ignacio High School Hall of Fame is making room for one more inductee. Former basketball coach Lee Larson is now on the Coaches Wall of Fame. You're watching the "Local NEWS Network," brought to you by Tafoya Barrett and Associates and Happy Pappy Pizza n Wings. I'm Connor Shreve. Coach Lee Larson served as the Ignacio boys head basketball coach from 1985 through 1991, leading the Bobcats to back-to-back title game appearances, winning the State Championship in 1988. He's now in Elite company, one of just five coaches enshrined.
It was just something that was unexpected, but I'm glad to be there. But there were three of the guys that Doug Little, and Juvie Jones, and Butch Melton, we're all colleagues and friends. And I didn't know Wayne Cope. Wayne was here before I came, but it's just a wonderful thing to be back among those people that were friends of mine and colleagues.
Larson moved to the area from Los Angeles, California and implemented a style of play inspired by John Wooden's UCLA teams of the 1960s and '70s.
I thought there were maybe three or four things that you have to have. You have to have players that can play the game, you have to have players that are intelligent, and also players that are willing to give up their ego. And if you have that, you have a very good chance of being successful, and we were there for several years.
Larson credits the success of his teams to having good, unselfish players. The induction ceremony included lots of nostalgia for those who played and coached with Larson. Shane Seibel, a 1989 Ignacio graduate, remembers returning home after winning the state championship.
And so when we got through Pagosa and we got to Chimney Rock, we took a left and there was a huge crowd waiting on us. Police escort drove us all the way in, and cars just kept following us from Arboles through Allison. We get here to the high school, and the band's playing, and I mean, just so exciting for our whole community.
He considers Larson a mentor and friend and says being able to speak at Larson's induction was emotional.
When you dedicate yourself to be a teacher, when you dedicate yourself to be a coach, it's a thankless job at times. And the way he ran things allowed us to blossom as a people, as a team, to really play basketball.
Seibel says he'll remember Coach Larson's induction for the rest of his life. And while the day is special for many within the community, Lee Larson's induction ultimately means one thing.
I've been a Bobcat for 46 years, but now that I'm on the wall, I'm going to be a Bobcat forever.
Indeed you are, Coach. Congratulations. For more information on this and other stories, visit durangolocal.news. Thanks for watching this edition of the "Local NEWS Network." I'm Connor Shreve.