Rifilato going back to college

Former BHS volleyball coach takes over as head coach at Fort Lewis

After six years at Bayfield High School, Kelley Rifilato is taking over as head volleyball coach at Fort Lewis College after her hiring was announced Thursday. Enlarge photo

Steve Lewis/Durango Herald

After six years at Bayfield High School, Kelley Rifilato is taking over as head volleyball coach at Fort Lewis College after her hiring was announced Thursday.

Bayfield High School’s loss is Fort Lewis College’s gain.

The Skyhawks hired former BHS head volleyball coach Kelley Rifilato on Thursday to take the reins of their volleyball program, according to a news release to The Durango Herald.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity and the challenges that go along with it,” Rifilato said in a news release. “I really never thought I was going to get an opportunity to coach in college again because I walked away from it when my kids were little. I knew then that that’s what I wanted to do, and I had a passion for it, but I also knew that I needed to be there for my family.”

Rifilato took over at Bayfield in 2007. The Wolverines went 135-29 in her tenure, including a remarkable 49-1 in the Intermountain League, and they qualified for the Class 3A state tournament each of the last four seasons. She was named The Denver Post Coach of the Year in 2009, and she’s accrued quality results as a club coach, as well.

Rifilato also was an interim head coach at New Mexico Highlands in 1997.

“I want to challenge for the (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) title,” she said. “I think that’s a doable thing in a few years. I don’t think that’s a long-term, five-years-down-the-road (goal). I think it’s doable in one or two years.”

Rifilato also has family ties to Fort Lewis. Her husband, Ed Rifilato, is the defensive coordinator for the football team. Strengthening the RMAC ties, daughters Gabriella and Katherine Rifilato play for conference rival Adams State, where Gabriella was the 2012 RMAC Setter of the Year.

FLC athletic director Gary Hunter said he was pleased with the quality of coach the athletic department landed.

“Her record speaks for itself, but she was also highly recommended by those who have worked with her through the years,” Hunter said.

Rifilato replaces Shelly Aaland, who was fired April 3. Aaland spent 10 years at the helm of her alma mater’s volleyball program and took the Skyhawks to their only NCAA Tournament appearance in 2008.

FLC declined comment on why Aaland and husband Chris Aaland, who also was fired from his position in the athletic department, were terminated.

heraldsports@durangoherald.com