Richard Rokos - Sport Builder / Sport Builder - 2013
As the head coach of the University of Colorado (CU) ski team for over 22 years, Richard Rokos has led an astonishing series of successes, both on and off the slopes. Rokos has exuded incredible leadership at CU and touched the sport of skiing as a coach, mentor, and supporter. Rokos is a native of Czechoslovakia, where he earned a master’s degree in physical education, and was a ski racer and coach. After he and his wife left the Communist-ruled country, they went to Austria, and immigrated to the United States in 1981. Rokos’ love for skiing and coaching brought them to Colorado, where he worked for the U.S. Ski Pro Tour. By 1987, Rokos became the assistant coach for the CU ski team and was promoted to head coach in 1990, a position he has maintained for over 22 years.Since Rokos took over as head coach, the CU ski team has achieved outstanding records and achievements. During his tenure, Rokos has coached 32 NCAA individual champions and 175 All-American skiers. He has tied Bill Marolt’s record streak of seven NCAA championship titles. As the U.S. collegiate representative for the International Ski Federation, Rokos was head coach of the U.S. team at the World University Games from 1995 to 2011. Athletes on his team have brought home four gold, four silver, and several bronze medals.In addition to an impressive list of successes on the slopes, the CU ski team has consistently been the top academic performing athletic team with impressive grade point averages each semester. In addition to maintaining long-standing relationships with his athletes, former skiers use Rokos’ coaching style and philosophy as they go on to coach their own teams.Rokos takes on significant responsibilities to coach U.S. sponsored teams, sits on NCAA committees, and continues to coach student-athletes into mid-April to enhance their chances of qualifying for professional teams. He also provided support and personal coaching to Jimmie Heuga, a bronze medalist in the men’s combined downhill at the 1964 Winter Olympics, after Heuga was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.Richard Rokos exudes a high level of integrity, strong guiding principles, and successful leadership at CU, which have positively impacted the sport of skiing in Colorado. The incredible success of Rokos’ teams, both on the slopes and in the classroom, has brought state recognition and made him an integral part of skiing in Colorado.