Jun 13, 2017 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterRiverton High School has lost a gem of a coach and a champion for young students and athletes.
On Monday, a tearful group of Riverton Wolverines basketball players worked to grasp the news that their coach, involved in Riverton's basketball program for seven seasons and the last three as head coach, was saying goodbye.
Their coach, who managed a deep, talented bench this past season (an under-appreciated challenge in and of itself) while guiding his team to its first-ever state championship was leaving.
Their coach, who had invested hours and hours and miles and miles while working with Riverton's grade school and middle school youth in addition to the year-round commitment he made to the high school basketball program, is going to "greener" pastures.
We all remember our high school coaches. Some were good, some not.
Stuart Mullins was great, and our community will miss him.
Such is high school sports.
And the stinger? Riverton's loss is Lander's gain. Mullins will now take over as cross-county rival Lander's head basketball coach next season. He will now guide those Tigers, who wear the disliked (at RHS) green.
For Mullins, the extra hour a day driving back and forth from Lander, where his home and kids are, and where is wife works, was taking its toll.
When the chance to live and work as a teacher and continue to be a head coach in the sport he is most passionate about a couple of blocks from his home became available, how could he say no?
Nobody can blame him for saying, "Farewell, Wolverines."
In the private sector, great employees who have proven their worth, gone well above and beyond and have excelled in every imaginable matrix can be retained. Salaries can be bumped up, great performance can be rewarded and incentives can be offered so the great ones, it is hoped, can be convinced to stay on board.
It is not a tough concept to grasp that the best mentors in school systems, who impact our children in magnificent ways, should be enticed to stay.
But our public education system has different rules, and Mullins, himself a young father and who has made the drive from Lander to Riverton and back a few thousand times, will now shave his commute down to a few city blocks.
Those of us who have watched Mullins impact our young basketball-playing boys with a commitment and enthusiasm to his program that, we hope, can be emulated across all athletic and activity programs at RHS, will miss him.
On a personal note, Mullins, like so many current Riverton coaches, was very gracious to The Ranger, win or lose.
For that we are thankful.
Riverton's big loss will present a new opportunity for a new head coach to make his mark and continue working to improve a successful Wolverines boys basketball program. And that too is part of the beauty of high school sports.
Riverton will soon have a new head coach, with his own new ideas and his own enthusiasm of what it means to be a Wolverine.
Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!
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