Maurice Noll retires from coaching after 49 years

Maurice Noll says good-bye to West Grand at the athletic awards ceremony on Tuesday night. He and his wife Joanne will be leaving for Arizona this week. Photo by Kim Cameron
Maurice Noll says good-bye to West Grand at the athletic awards ceremony on Tuesday night. He and his wife Joanne will be leaving for Arizona this week. Photo by Kim Cameron

This West Grand football season saw an end of an era when Maurice Noll announced his official retirement after 49 years of coaching, 42 of them spent at West Grand.

Noll first came to Kremmling from Byers, Colorado in 1976 when he was hired to teach high school mathematics and coach.
He coached girls’ basketball with his wife Joanne for 25 years and retired in 2001 after the girls’ team brought home a state championship. In 2001, he was also recognized as All Classification Coach of the Year for Girls Basketball by two different organizations, the Denver Post and the Colorado High School Coaches Association. For coach of the year, he was chosen from all the schools in the state from those with a classification of 1A to those with a classification of 5A.
He continued to coach football after his early retirement in 2004 and even after a battle with olfactory neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer, in 2016.

“I wanted to still be involved in the school,” said Noll of the relationships he forges with his players and other coaches.

Noll’s coaching partnership with Head Coach Chris Brown began in 1980 and has continued, “Longer than some marriages,” Brown said jokingly at Tuesday’s athletic awards night.

Brown credited Noll’s influence on West Grand’s strong academic and athletic programs throughout the years.

Noll has coached all the positions on the offense and defense in his role as defensive coordinator for West Grand. He admits his favorite positions to coach are the defensive linebackers and offensive backs noting they have a difficult job.

He explained that defensive linebackers have to learn to read the guards, and offensive backs have to learn the proper initial steps to take. “There is a lot of strategies involved,” said Noll who has seen two football championships in 1996 and 1998 and many league championships.

In 2010, the West Grand team switched to 8-man football after its student enrollment decreased. Among the changes, Noll noted that there was not any double-teaming in 8-man football and, “You can’t do a lot of shifting. It doesn’t help.

Noll also saw changes in terms of technology. In the beginning of his coaching career, Noll would often visit other teams to assess their weaknesses and strengths. Coach Brown highlighted Noll’s skill in scouting before the film was exchanged, and then in later years, his skill in analyzing the film, “We pride ourselves on playing good defense.”

In other changes, Noll saw changes in clothing styles through his four decades of coaching, although many fondly remember his polyester slacks in purple and gold, perhaps long after they were in style. Coach Noll had planned to go out with this year’s senior class which he referred to as a great group and briefly discussed the disappointing end to the season when the West Grand team lost by one point in the last ten seconds when their opponent made a field goal kick, “I have no idea how we tripped up with Pikes Peak. Coach Brown and I talked and that was one of the hardest defeats to take in all of our careers. We actually scored one more touch down than they did, and they still won.”

Assistant Coach Josh Pedersen said of Noll, “All these guys who have played defense for coach realize that when it gets to be the time of season, when it is a league opponent or a big game, Coach Noll comes with amazing defensive game plans. Hopefully, we can continue this tradition and use the things he taught us and continue to play good defense at West Grand.” Pedersen was coached by Noll and was a two time all state linebacker in the 90s.

Noll’s advice to fellow coaches, “You have to put the welfare of the athlete first. Pay attention to everything you see and what they say.”
He concluded, “I would like to thank the administration and the school board for allowing me to do this for so long, as a teacher and a coach. It has been a great journey.”

This week the Nolls officially end their time in Kremmling. They will officially move to Arizona and split their time between Phoenix and Payson.
Noll says he will continue lifting weights, golfing, fishing, exploring other areas, do some light camping and become actively involved in the Catholic Church in his new town.

He will also visit Colorado occasionally where his son, daughter and their families still reside.