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AARON BRAVO AT HOME IN ATHLETICS/ACTIVITIES DIRECTOR POSITION

During his lauded 30-year career with Pueblo School District 60, Aaron Bravo has served as an educator, coach, counselor, Leadership Team Aaron Bravoadministrator and, perhaps most visibly, as Athletic Director and later Principal of South High School.

As Principal of the Colts, Mr. Bravo oversaw an impressive 9-year run of success in academics, athletics and activities like performing arts and music.

Through it all, Mr. Bravo, himself a D60 product, never lost touch with his inner athlete formed many years ago on junior league football and baseball fields, wrestling mats, and open-air cross country courses.

Now, as the District’s new Athletics/Activities Director, Mr. Bravo not only has fulfilled a life-long dream but finds himself in the coveted position of taking not only athletics, but activities such as music and theater, to the next level.

Mr. Bravo replaces the heralded Rick Macias, who retired this year after nearly 40 years with the District. Ironically, Mr. Bravo’s first coaching gig was assisting Mr. Macias, then coaching track at Central High School.

"When I decided to get my principal's license and become an administrator, being named Director of Athletics was my goal,” Mr. Bravo said. "It’s just taken me a few years to get here.”

Most recently, Mr. Bravo was part of the Superintendent’s Leadership Team, serving as the District’s Executive Director of Student Support.

“It was a great learning opportunity for me,” Mr. Bravo said. “And I truly felt that it would be my final stop before I retire. But then this job came open. Initially, I thought I wouldn’t apply, because I felt content where I was. 

“But that thought process didn’t last very long. I applied and was fortunate enough to get the job. And I’m just excited to be here.”

There hasn’t been a time when athletics wasn’t a part of Mr. Bravo’s life.

As a youth, sports like football and baseball occupied much of his time and energy. At South, Mr. Bravo ran track/cross country and wrestled. He later coached Little League and high school baseball, and also umpired high school baseball action.

Throughout his years of athletic competition, the influence of coaches, and the relevance of the life-impacting direction they offered, found a permanent place in Mr. Bravo’s heart and helped set the course for his future.

“Fred Trujillo was my Little League football coach, and we’re still great friends,” Mr. Bravo said. “Gene Morenz was my cross country coach, John Lenhart was my track coach, and Jerry Sisneros my wrestling coach. 

“And those are men I hold in the highest regard and love what they’ve done for kids over the years.”

A first-generation college student, Mr. Bravo capitalized on his love for language and grammar by pursuing teacher certification in English Language Arts. He started his career as an ELA teacher at Keating.

A variety of positions followed, all of which added to Mr. Bravo’s collective experience while preparing him for the role destiny had waiting for him.

When he became Athletic Director at South in 2007, Mr. Bravo immediately recognized destiny’s touch.

“That was truly a blessing for me,” he said. “Being an Athletic Director is what I wanted to do because for me, athletics was a draw and a passion. My path always seemed to come back to athletics.”

Mr. Bravo’s tenure as South’s AD was short lived at 4 years, as his talents and vision were needed for the school’s Principalship. 

“Honestly, I never thought I’d leave that job,” Mr. Bravo said of South’s Athletic Directorship. “I said to myself, ‘I can do this until I retire.’ But when South’s principal at the time moved up into a District-level administration position, I was asked to fill in as an interim for a year.

“And then I was named the permanent Principal, and that lasted for 9 years, which I think makes me the third-longest tenured Principal at South.”

Through it all, though, athletics and the thrill of competition were never far from Mr. Bravo’s heart.

“I always stayed connected to athletics, even as Principal,” he said. “And we had some great teams during my time at South.”

It was during his Principalship, working in concert with Athletic Director Jarrett Sweckard, that Mr. Bravo learned the importance of promoting, or “hyping,” big athletic contests, like the Cannon Game, in order to draw fans to the seats. 

It’s a beneficial tool Mr. Bravo plans to employ as AD as he builds on the legacy left by Rick Macias.

“Rick did a lot of things that people don’t realize,” Mr. Bravo said. “And he put a lot of things in place. I feel like it’s my role to take what he put in place and take it to the next level.”

To do so, Mr. Bravo plans to fully utilize social media and other information-dispersing formats to acknowledge the efforts of athletes as well as draw fans back to the seats of Dutch Clark Stadium and other District facilities.

After the restrictions mandated by the pandemic, most notably last fall, Mr. Bravo is anxious to once again see the Dutch filled to the brim for the iconic Bell and Cannon games, as well as other contests.

“There was a time when you couldn’t find a seat for the Bell Game,” Mr. Bravo said. “I’d like to see us get back to that.”

In the development of a young person, the role that athletics and extra-curricular activities play should never be underestimated.

“I think it’s paramount,” Mr. Bravo said. “There’s a lot of life lessons to be learned. Personally, as a cross country runner, I learned mental toughness and how to work through adversity. And truly, my greatest memories from high school are from my years of running. I’m still in touch with some of the guys I ran with.

“And for our programs at the District, I think it’s important that we hire the ‘character coaches’ that understand there’s more to the aspect of sports than just winning or losing: it’s developing young kids into young adults.”

Pueblo, Mr. Bravo reaffirms, is one of the state’s premier sports towns, with historic rivalries no other city in the nation can lay claim to. As AD, he plans to capitalize on that fact as he works to bolster the District’s programs, and those who come out to support them, in the wake of the debilitating effects of the pandemic.

“We have so many amazing traditions in our city, and I want more people to know about it,” he said. 

With Dutch Clark Stadium the hallowed centerpiece for District athletics, Mr. Bravo has plans in place to improve that facility, starting with new coats of paint for the announcer’s quarters. He also envisions more extensive use of the “Jumbotron” screen for advertisements, replays and promotion of events.

A musician with a performance background, Mr. Bravo is quick to point out that his directorship title includes “Activities,” and as such, he plans to actively promote the District’s music, performing arts and similar offerings.

“It’s as equally important as sports,” Mr. Bravo said of marching band, cheerleading, dancing and other activities. “There are life lessons to be learned and friendships to be made, and we want to promote all of that, along with athletics.”