Valor without Honor: Critics Claims Dispatched on the Field

George Gwozdecky's Valor Christian hockey team demolished Palmer High School by a score of 8-2 this past Saturday night in his high school coaching debut. While the hockey program is coming off a terrible season, this is not the beginning of a Hoosiers-like story where an inspirational coach leads a downtrodden team to victory against all odds. Gwoz joined the high school equivalent of the New England Patriots.

An article in Mile High Sports, Loathed or Loved: Valor Christian is Both, states, "It’s no secret that Valor Christian High School is, or at least has been, universally loathed since it opened in 2007. Its sprawling, Highlands Ranch campus is beautiful if not brash; its facilities – both academic and athletic – are second to none. The mission from the powers that be has always been unapologetic and unmistakable: Be the best at everything."

It only took them three years to win their first Colorado state football championship. After five consecutive championship runs (one in 3A, two in 4A and two in 5A), Valor finally lost to Cherry Creek in last year’s 5A title game. Then, this year Valor beat 'the Creek' and squeaked past Pomona in the state final to make it 6 out of 7.  Stanford's Heisman Trophy candidate Christian McCaffrey (Yes, that McCaffrey family) went to Valor.

With the exception of football, boys and girls lacrosse, and hockey, Valor Christian’s teams operated as 4A independents in the 2012-14 two-year cycle because no school wanted to compete against Valor. This school can boast the state’s undisputed best all-around athletic program, in whatever sport they wish to pursue. 

From the beginning, Valor was aggressive in their "pursuit of excellence." According to CHSAA, Valor received nine sanctions in its first four years, including four serious violations. All new schools play under probationary status according to CHSAA. When Valor was due to come off their initial probationary status to become a full member, CHSAA membership voted to keep them under probationary status. While that status is more symbolic than anything else, it is believed to be the first time a Colorado school has failed to be granted full membership on its first try.

Denver Post article from 2012 explains, "Along the way, Valor has infuriated many with its aggressive tactics and unabashed pursuit of athletic excellence. Some schools have simply stopped scheduling the Eagles. Littleton forfeited on gameday this fall. And recently, when Valor administrators tried to find a new conference to join, they had doors closed in their faces as if they were selling encyclopedias."

In addition to Gwoz, many of Valor's coaching staff have the C/V's to qualify as top flight D1 college coaches.
  • Want your daughter to be a good volleyball player? Coach Melanie Heller attended the University of Pacific where she was a two-time All-American setter and her 1990 team was Runner-Up for the Division I National Championship. Oh and she was also an Assistant Coach at the University of San Diego.
  • You want top lacrosse coaching for your son? Try John Grant Junior. 2014: Assistant Offensive Coordinator Team Canada, Gold Medal World Champion. 2010­-Present: Co-Founder, Director of Coaching and Player Development, Evolve Elite Lacrosse Company. 2009: Offensive Coordinator, Rochester Knighthawks, NLL. 2003–­2009: Co­-founder and Head Instructor, Pro Skills Lacrosse Company. 2000: Graduate Assistant Coach, University of Delaware.
  • Daughter plays basketball? Coach Jessika Caldwell is a former Division I basketball player and professional athlete. A two-year team captain and four-year letter winner at Baylor University was named Big 12 Sportswoman of the Year. Played professionally in the Czech Republic. As a Head Coach, led UCCS and Colorado Christian University to championships.
As for hockey, Coach Gwozdecky will be expected to win big immediately. It's the Valor way.

Editor's Note: For three years during my high school baseball career, I played against Valor at least twice every year. In those three years, there was only one program that I saw as completely classless: Valor. They thought dirty slides were acceptable, they crossed so many lines with their trash talk, and they would refuse to shake hands with us after we beat them. I can't comment on the way things have been since 2011, but from 2009-2011, they were the worst opponents on our schedule because they were the worst people.

Needless to say, I was less than excited to hear that Gwoz had taken a job with Valor. I can only hope that he refuses to drink the Valor kool-aid and makes sure his players stay classy on and off the ice. Valor is going to win some hockey games this year. They may even win State. I just hope it doesn't come at the expense of his team's integrity like all other Valor championships have. [Nick Tremaroli]

1 comment:

Dunker said...

The big NJ parochial schools have taken the same route in basketball and football. It's tak the fun out of our HS sports scene. To fill a schedule, these teams now play regional and national powers, yet they are still allowed in county and state tournaments. No valor here either. Stay classy Gwoz.