MONUMENT - Russ McKinstry loved his positions as athletic director and boys basketball coach at Lewis-Palmer High School. But he wasn't so thrilled with the 40-mile commute each day from his home in Parker.
Last week, McKinstry shortened his drive to two miles when he accepted the athletic director job at Chaparral in Parker.
“The commute had taken its toll on me,” McKinstry said. “My wife is a paralegal and has a great job at the Denver Tech Center. We had considered moving to Monument and buying a home there, but that would have meant a long commute for her. We were between a rock and a hard place.
“But beyond that, it felt like it was time to move on.”
McKinstry, 51, said he has no plans to coach high school basketball again.
“I think that has run its course,” McKinstry said. “I might pursue something at the collegiate level if the right opportunity comes up.”
McKinstry replaces outgoing Chaparral athletic director Gary Thompson, who is taking the same job at Grandview.
McKinstry's second tenure at Lewis-Palmer (he was also the school's boys basketball coach in the early 1990s) was marked by back-to-back 4A state championships in 2012 and 2013 - including a 34-game winning streak. His teams went 114-23 over five seasons, including five consecutive Final Fours.
The 2011-2012 squad, led by current University of Colorado forward Josh Scott, went 27-1.
“As a coach he knows the game really well,” Josh Scott said. “He really cares about all of his players. That's one of the reasons he's so successful.”
This year's team - minus Scott - was 25-3, including a 51-40 victory over Valor Christian in the state championship game in March. Scott's younger brother, Jordan, led the way for the Rangers.
“Coach Mack was a great coach,” said Jordan Scott, a four-year starter who graduated in May. “His game management was great and he always knew how to get the most of his players.”
McKinstry, a two-time cancer survivor, has enjoyed a long and successful coaching career that began in the 1980s. He reached the 400-victory plateau in December and now has a lifetime record of 418-171.
“I've been very lucky,” McKinstry said. “Those victories are the result of a lot of great players and fine young men.”
McKinstry started his head coaching career at Copeland (Kansas) in 1988. From there he moved to Limon, Lewis-Palmer, Greeley Central, Smoky Hill, Chaparral (Phoenix) and back to Lewis-Palmer in 2008.
“It's amazing how fast things go by,” McKinstry said.
Lewis-Palmer principal Sandi Brandl said that a search for a new athletic director is underway. A replacement could be in place by mid July. McKinstry said he will help in the transition.