Building a Dynasty
Updated: Aug 7, 2021
A team that dominates their sport or field for multiple seasons or years.
Just over three decades ago, a young man walked into Ponderosa High School to take over the struggling wrestling program. Coming from a successful program in El Paso, Texas, Tim Ottmann was eager to apply his coaching philosophy and build a contender at his new school. It would be one of the best decisions of his life.
As Tim started to make strides with the wresting program, he caught the eye of the administration, who suggested he get his masters degree and apply for the position of Athletic Director. He did both and became the Athletic Director in 1993. Still coaching wrestling as well, Tim's teams were improving as his methods were beginning to take root. Things were going well. Meanwhile ... A new teacher at a local dance studio, Starstruck Academy of Dance, was approached by a few of her students - Kellie McKey, Holly Graham, and Crystal Paul. They wanted their energetic teacher to start a dance team for them at their high school which, to that point, didn't have one. Their teacher, Angela, loved the idea. She got together a business proposal and presented it to Athletic Director, Tim Ottmann. Tim was impressed with her background and professionalism. Angela won Tim over and was hired in 1994. Tim calls it the "best hire he ever made." As the new dance team (called Poms) started to take shape, Tim continued to see success in his wrestling program. They took second place in state in 1995 and 1996, establishing themselves as a program on the rise. Just five years after taking the reins of the struggling program, Ponderosa wrestling was now talked about in wrestling circles.
The next year, 1997, would prove to be a great year.
With Tim's team vying for a state title, Angela had also seen success quickly with what she calls her "Bad News Bears" dance team. From not even having a dance program three years earlier, Angela had now taken her team to the cusp of a state title. Ponderosa Poms celebrated a second place finish in state that year, while the wrestling team took home their first state championship. The two teams on meteoric rises began to get close, as did their coaches. Tim and Angela had begun dating and in 1997, the two coaches were married. It was a very good year.
Over the next 20 years, the Ottmann duo would bring home an amazing 19 state titles - Angela winning 11 with her Poms teams and Tim winning 8 for the wrestling program, including an unimaginable feat of winning 8 years in a row (6 while Tim was head coach). The two coaches built legacies that continue today with powerhouse programs still contending every year for state titles. In their respective sports, they defined a dynasty. That type of success is not typical for a school to accomplish in even a single sport, much less two. And even more rare is to have that kind of success all within one household. Let's put it into perspective.
There are 641 high schools in Colorado, made up of 551 public schools and 90 private schools. Of those 641 schools, 74 have won 19 or more state titles in ALL sports. Meaning, there are 567 schools that have won fewer state championships than Tim and Angela Ottmann. Let that soak in. You run out of adjectivies to describe what the Ottmanns have accompished. It's hard to oversell the success they have engendered, and yet it's so easy to miss how great their legacies have truly been. For all of their triumph, Tim and Angela remain steadfast in their instance it was not easy. It took unbelievable sacrifice, heartache, and continued growth along the way. Continuing to have success year after year was a monumental task that required determined effort and created unbearable pressure. Tim and Angela believe that pressure is a privilege. So what was the secret to their success? How did they become those leaders that allowed others great triumphs? If it were that easy to understand, everyone could do it! But we did garner a few keys in talking with Tim and Angela about how their dynasty was built. Tim often says that success leaves clues. Throughout their coaching stints they would frequently study other successful coaches and programs (including each others') to pick out the elements that made that success possible. Early in his wrestling career, Tim's team was soundly defeated by a superior team. Within the hour after losing that match, Tim was on the phone to the opposing coach asking for advice and counsel. Both Tim and Angela have taken their teams around the country in search of the best competition, always eager to find those clues from successful teams.
Angela comes from a marketing background. She worked for Apple before following her dream of dance and used that experience to create a "buzz" around the Poms program. She established her program as more than just a team, but a village. Involving parents, sponsors, and the community made everyone involved feel as though they had a part in the success of the program. It was their team.
Both Tim and Angela are very detailed oriented. They believe in hard work and preach being the hardest working teams in the state. They are humble and give credit to assistant coaches, parents, and of course their athletes, many of whom still stay in contact. The former athletes credit their coaches with teaching them life lessons, inspiring them to greatness, and being lifelong friends.
Although wrestling and dance seem to be at opposite ends of the scope of sport, both Tim and Angela insist it is not that different to coach either. They have shared ideas, warned about pitfalls, and relied on each other throughout each others' tenure.
They seek out input and advice from each other and often implemented ideas from the other's program. They look outside of their own sports to find the ways other coaches are being successful, using their philosophies and ideas to create their own. Angela says she often reads books from great basketball coaches, she relates to their strategies and mindsets.
In the end, both believe that coaching is coaching.
1997 - Wrestling
1998 - Wrestling
1999 - Poms
2001 - Poms
2003 - Wrestling
2004 - Wrestling
2005 - Wrestling & Poms
2006 - Wrestling & Poms
2007 - Wrestling
2008 - Wrestling & Poms
2009 - Poms
2014 - Poms
2015 - Poms
2016 - Poms
2017 - Poms
Both are now retired from coaching. Tim continues to serve as principle at Ponderosa High School, and Angela can be found frequently walking the halls helping the Poms team with their routines. They are ingrained in the Mustang community.
One day, they will no longer be involved in the day to day aspects of the school. But their legacy will forever be part of the fiber of each success in the school.