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Colorado Athletics Captain

Q&A with Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) new Commissioner and Alumnus Michael Krueger

Michael Krueger always loved sports, but as many student-athletes know the playing days eventually end. As a young college student trying to decide his future, Kruger was split between pursuing a degree in criminal justice or teacher education. It was in an entry-level Methods of Teaching class that the professor and men’s basketball coach, Doug Schakel, took Krueger under his wing. Their kinship, as well as Schakel knowing Krueger’s goals led to him being appointed as a student coach for the men’s basketball program. That experience shaped Krueger’s future like he couldn’t have imagined.  

Q: What was your path to becoming the new CHSAA Commissioner?

A: After my experience as a student assistant coach for the Maverick’s basketball team, I knew I wanted to coach. So I accepted a coaching position at Grand Junction High School and was an assistant coach there for five years. A head coaching and teaching position then opened at Palisade High School, so I made the move. I was afforded some amazing opportunities at Palisade. One year I was the head softball, basketball and baseball coach. I eventually became the school’s athletic director and after many great years, I moved on to become the district athletic director for Aurora Public Schools. Then sort of serendipitously, I had the opportunity to get involved with the USA Olympic and Para-Olympic committee where I was the director of education with USA Football for four years. Seeing things from the Olympic perspective was incredible and that experience along with the outstanding people I worked with made me much more qualified for the CHSAA role.

Q: What motivated you to take the Commissioner role and what do you view as some of the best opportunities for improving the statewide athletic landscape?  

A: CHSAA is a 365-school membership that affords great opportunities for student-athletes to compete. I think coming out of COVID, people sort of got used to working in silos. I felt like I could help improve communications and collaboration among the CHSAA network. My immediate focus was to re-unify the membership by getting out and meeting with athletic directors, assistant principals and principals. With their input and our own persistent scanning of the landscape, we are hyper-focused on making decisions that keep the well-being of our schools, coaches and student-athletes at the forefront.   

Q: There's obviously growing concerns with the shortage of sporting officials, so what is CHSAA doing to improve this trend? 

A: The sports official shortage is one of our highest priorities. Officials are our partners, educationally based athletics and contests simply don’t exist without them. The shortage is not a new thing, but it’s going in a direction that’s very concerning. Coming in, we had just loss long-time associate commissioner and officiating legend Tom Robinson, so right away we hired an assistant commissioner who oversees sports officials with an intentional focus on recruitment and retention in an effort to build upon and continue Tom’s amazing work. Together, we launched the “You look good in stripes” recruitment campaign and are working to eliminate barriers of entry like testing and equipment costs through grant funding. We’re also doing extensive research to determine how to make Colorado one of the most desirable places to officiate in terms of pay, hospitality at the schools and even legislation protecting them from any sort of inappropriate behavior or assault. We know there’s not any easy or quick answers to fixing these issues, but we’re very committed to this ongoing effort. 

Q: As you know, we are proud of the strong athletic prowess here at CMU, and Colorado student-athletes make up a good share of CMU roster spots. What are your thoughts on the pathway for student-athletes from high school to college?

A: Well first off, I really love to see Colorado athletes stay in state to compete at the collegiate level. I truly believe we have incredibly strong programs in this state and our kids can compete with anyone in the nation. I see a concerted effort by our Colorado colleges and universities to keep Colorado kids here, and I’ve especially noticed that by CMU. The NCAA transfer portal is of course making things very interesting. The trickle-down effect is we are seeing more of that mentality at the high school level, and as most know there isn’t a transfer portal for them, so we are working to grow the awareness of the policies in place and the potential options available.   

Q: Having been in the role for almost a year now, what do you see as the main priorities for CHSAA moving forward?

A: The leadership before me did a very good job so I want to continue building on that foundation. Financially, the organization was left in a good place but there’s opportunities to strengthen it, so we’ll continue to review existing agreements and look to expand promotions for our athletes and personnel. Another top priority is expanding our athlete health and wellness policies. This spring we have a partnership meeting with the Korey Stringer Institute, which was established by the wife of the late Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman who passed away from exertional heat stroke. Supporting our school communities is another big opportunity. We will continue to work hard at uniting the CHSAA school membership around our shared vision and purpose. Lastly, we’ll work very closely with the Colorado Athletic Directors Association to make sure we’re supporting their endeavors and lean on those relationships to improve policies and sporting events.  


Written by Jared Meier