When longtime Glenrock football head coach Ray Kumpula announced his retirement at the end of the 2018 season, the athletic department contacted former Herders for a special ceremony. Following his final home game, a 45-0 win over Big Piney in the Class 2A quarterfinals, 30 former Herders presented Kumpula with letters that spoke of the head coach’s impact on their lives.
“That’s the kind of guy Coach Kumpula is,” Glenrock activities director Julie Kuhlman told the Star-Tribune on Thursday. “We lose a great football coach, but he’ll still be in our halls for a couple more years.”
Kumpula’s inevitable departure left a cornerstone coaching position to be filled. In 24 years of coaching, spread throughout two stints, he compiled a 130-84 record and won three state championships. On Wednesday afternoon Kuhlman sent out the release to announce who would be Kumpula’s successor.
Co-offensive coordinator Ryan Collier was promoted to head coach of the Herders following four years as a full-time assistant on Kumpula’s staff in addition to an addition two years as a volunteer assistant before that. Collier’s hire came less than a month after Glenrock’s season came to an end, an added vote of confidence by the athletic department.
“When Ray announced we knew we wanted to make a good transition,” Kuhlman said. “Ryan was a natural fit and when we started pursuing what our options would be with Ray, Ryan naturally came up.”
Collier spent 10 years coaching in Colorado — four as an assistant and six as a head coach in Otis, a six-man program — before moving to Glenrock. He grew up in Denver, where he played football throughout high school.
Collier said he learned a lot from Kumpula, much more than just the Herders’ patented double-wing offense.
“From Ray you just learn so many nuances, not just from the game of football but the management of the team,” Collier said. “How you deal with situations with students, athletes, grades, parents, all the nuances that most people don’t think about. I learned so much from Ray there that I don’t know if I could ever learn as much from anyone.”
As of right now Collier’s former assistant coaching position is the only vacancy on Glenrock’s staff. No time line has been set for when that position will be filled.
Collier spoke assuredly that he’d maintain Glenrock’s patented double-wing offense, a nearly exclusive run offense that led Class 2A in yards per game each of the last four seasons. Kumpula established Glenrock’s middle school football program, which taught players the fundamentals of the sport and the offense before their freshmen season. That allowed high school coaches to refine, not instill those items in practice.
Despite Collier’s previous head coaching experience in the six-man ranks, he doubled-down on his love for the system.
“I like the ground and pound, I love it,” he said. “I love every bit of it. I love the toughness it exudes, I love what it teaches our kids. It’s been really invaluable to me.
“I don’t know what kind of changes will come down yet until we start working on what personnel we have. We’re going to be Glenrock football and that’s the way I’m going to play it.”
Added Kuhlman: “Glenrock is known for football and we want to keep on moving the way we’re going and I think Ryan’s the man to do that.”