As wise in the areas of mathematics, chemistry and physics a decades’ worth of Bayfield High School students knew him to be, it probably wouldn’t surprise any of them if a genetically-engineered Vernon Kimball clone now grins at them when spotted inside Wolverine Country Stadium.
Or anywhere else, for that matter.
After all, the real Vernon Kimball supposedly retired more than 10 years ago, right?
“I never really left,” he joked Wednesday night. “I left the classroom but haven’t left what was my passion and what I did all throughout my career.”
Kimball was easily recognizable along with his wife, a fellow longtime BHS classroom and coaching fixture, Sharon, at last month’s Colorado High School Activities Association’s State Track and Field Championships. The pair judged relay exchanges and otherwise ensured the three-day event flowed as smoothly as possible. Kimball’s involvement in athletics and education continues to this day, demonstrating the vigor and longevity to be saluted this coming Tuesday with induction into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame.
“I’ve put a few miles on the vehicle and a few on the body, just trying to look out for the interests of coaches and athletes,” he quipped, “Not just in the Four Corners area but across the state. So I think that a lot of this recognition goes to the fact I’ve stayed involved even after I retired. And not so much, maybe, on my coaching record as to my service to Colorado.
“There are so many people that were a part of me receiving recognition, from all the athletes I coached throughout the years to coaches I’d coached with and against. I’m not sure it’s really sunk in yet.”
Having served on the Colorado High School Coaches Association’s board of directors for “the last 20 or so years,” Kimball’s 2019 enshrinement will occur during the NHSACA National Convention June 22-27 in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Held in conjunction with the N.D. High School Coaches Association Convention, the ceremonies will also feature induction of Englewood-based Kent Denver’s Scott Yates, the Sun Devils’ head football coach since 1981 and owner of three state championships and more than 330 wins.
“Yates and I will be the 34th and 35th coaches from Colorado inducted, but Ken Soper from Dove Creek is the only other one from southwestern Colorado,” said Kimball. “It just is mind-boggling that my name is going to be included.”
“Phil Sategna, the longtime track and cross-country coach and athletic director at Bloomfield went in in 2008,” he noted. “Herb Stinson went in as an inductee from New Mexico for his coaching work not in Bayfield and Colorado, but in New Mexico in 2016. So there’s a few connections down to my part of the state outstanding coaches I’d coached against and coached with, you know?”
Having skippered Bayfield girls track to a state title in 1991, and boys cross-country to a first-place finish in 2005, Kimball coached at BHS from 1974 through 2008. He mentored the boys and girls track squads from ’75-08, and also served as a football assistant from ’74-83. In addition to also guiding BHS cross-country through the 2007 season, he led the Bayfield girls basketball team from 1975-93 – a stretch which included a fifth-place state showing in 1981.
Never too far from a cross-country race or track meet within the Centennial State, Kimball’s present comings and goings include coordinating and instructing programs and events with the National Energy Education Development Project.
“Our mission is to bring curriculum and provide training for teachers about energy,” he said, “Activities and materials they can take back to their classrooms and utilize to teach their students.”
“It has me traveling all over the country doing workshops, primarily for teachers, but sometimes with students and teaching about topics related to energy. This week I’ve got a three-day event sponsored by Tri-State, and we’ve got about 40 teachers from New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and part of Nebraska coming for a three-day conference. That’ll be the last thing I’ve got before I head up to Bismarck.”
Whether it was coaching or teaching, Kimball always loved being around high schoolers because of how their minds work both in the classroom and on the track.
“When I was employed there’s nothing I liked better than walking into a classroom full of eager minds and spending some time with them, trying to educate them. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the classroom,” he continued.
“So I get my ‘teacher fix’ by doing these workshops, and get my ‘coaching fix’ by officiating track-and-field and cross-country, being part of the coaches association.”
Kimball was inducted into the CHSCA Hall of Fame back in 2009, and even he expressed amazement over how quickly time has flown since then while he’s stayed connected to a community and to a grateful state.
“There’s so many people I owe so much to for their support through the years, and there’s no way to properly say ‘thank you’ to all of them,” Kimball said. “But it’s my hope that they know how much I appreciate everything they all did for me, all the way through; Athletes, parents, coaches, the whole works!”