Listen to this post
RANGELY — When Mark Skelton went to work Monday, he knew it was going to be a different feeling.
For the first time in 25 years, Skelton was no longer affiliated with a school, or a college.
A long-time teacher and coach for the Rangely School District, Skelton, after only a few months as athletic director at Colorado Northwestern Community College, vacated the position and took a job as an oilfield pumper with EnCana.
“I am no longer with the college as of (last) Wednesday,” Skelton said last Friday, after a day of safety training for his new job. “I had only been there (at CNCC) for four months, but I came to the conclusion I needed to do something different.”
Asked to explain his decision to leave CNCC after such a short time, Skelton said, “It’s kind of hard to put into words. Things were working out, but I needed to do something completely different.”
The desire to make a career change had been growing for a while, he said.
“In the past, I had thought about doing other things,” Skelton said. “It had crossed my mind. This had been coming on for a couple of years. I had a yearning to do something else.”
Skelton hinted his heart may not have been in the athletic director’s job.
“If you can’t give it your all, you have to do something else,” he said. “I’m not pointing any fingers. It was hard (leaving). I went in there with expectations, and they had expectations of me. I had hit the ground running. I went in there and worked hard every day and we made some strides in a short amount of time. I had hoped (things would work out), but it just didn’t work out.”
Asked about his relationship with CNCC, Skelton said, “I believe it’s on good terms.”
Richard Barker, volleyball coach at CNCC, was sorry to see Skelton leave the athletic program.
“Yes, I was taken by surprise when Mark announced to me a couple weeks ago that he had submitted his resignation,” Barker said. “He has made some remarkable and greatly needed upgrades and contributions to our athletic department in the short time he has been here. His energies and vision will be missed.”
The timing of Skelton’s resignation was unexpected, Barker said.
“While I have noticed and visited with Mark about the stresses of his position, I admit to being surprised that his decision to leave came so early into this college season,” Barker said.
Tom Cassera, baseball coach at CNCC, who is new to the program, was also caught off guard by Skelton’s leaving.
“Yes, I was very surprised any very disappointed,” Cassera said. “Mark was an energetic person who wanted to see a change for the positive here at CNCC. We worked hard for the three months he was here and will continue to try and get things done, so the community will be proud of the college it has right here in Rangely.”
The college has already begun a search for Skelton’s replacement, Barker said.
“We are currently reviewing options to best benefit the needs of our athletic department,” Barker said. “The college has already begun a search for possible candidates to fill the position.”
In the meantime, Barker said CNCC coaches will carry on.
“Thus far, disruptions have been minimal (with Skelton leaving),” Barker said. “Most of the coaches on staff have already experienced an absence in the athletic director’s position from last spring (after the resignation of Dustin Colburn). … we will have to wait to see how much the absence of someone completing the A.D.’s many duties will impact those of us who will fill in to share those responsibilities.”
Before going to CNCC, Skelton taught industrial arts and physical education at Rangely Middle School and was a coach at both the middle school and high school.
“That was my first teaching job and my only teaching job,” said Skelton, who has also has a small construction business on the side with Tim Webber, director of the Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Parks District.
Going from the middle school to the college had represented a change, but it turned out it wasn’t what he was looking for, Skelton said.
“Things were working out (with the new job),” he said. “I went from working with middle school kids … going to the college and older kids I thought would fill the need, but I needed something completely different.”
Skelton said he and his wife, Connie, would continue to make Rangely their home.
“Rangely is where we raised our (four) kids,” Skelton said. “It’s a great community.”
Leaving the middle school after so many years had been hard, Skelton admitted.
“Sure, I always miss the kids,” he said. “There were definite regrets. There just comes a time in my life when you have to step out and do something different.”
Even Connie was surprised at first when Skelton told her he wanted to change jobs … again.
“She said, ‘Mark, have you thought about this?’” Skelton said. “I’ve done a lot of praying about it. She’s very supportive, but it’s stepping out of one world and into another world.”
So, when he went to his new job in the oil field for the first time Monday, he expected it would be an adjustment.
“Change is hard, especially when you are older,” said Skelton, who is 48. “There’s always apprehension when you do something different.”