Scott Hormann was part of a glorious stretch of Fairfield High School athletics in the 1980s.
He hasn’t forgotten. He’ll never forget. But the 1987 Fairfield graduate is happy with the life he’s created for himself at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.
“I loved representing Fairfield High School. I loved wearing Fairfield red. I loved being part of something,” said Hormann, in his seventh year as the head baseball coach at Heritage High School here in suburban Denver.
“People talk about glory days. I had those. But I am so proud of what I’m doing now working with kids. The way I feel about Fairfield is the exact same way I feel about Heritage. If we could win a state championship at Heritage, that would be the greatest accomplishment of my life.”
Hormann knows something about state championships. He was part of two at Fairfield, as a sophomore pitcher on the 1985 baseball team and as a senior quarterback on the 1986 football squad.
He didn’t play a major role in the ’85 title run. But his name is synonymous with the Indians’ lone football state championship. When you’re the quarterback, that’s just the way it is.
“I talk a lot with my players about how high school athletics is the ultimate,” Hormann said. “You may do a lot of things in your life, but when you do something in high school with a group of guys that you loved, you never forget how it happened, and you never forget why it happened.
“I wish I could say this to every one of my teammates. When we won that state championship, I got a lot of credit. But there’s never been a time in my life where I thought I did that. That was a ‘we’ thing. It was never an ‘I’ thing for me.
“That 1987 graduating class was unbelievable. I don’t know if they could ever have that again. And that was all of us.”
Call of the west
It’s a Sunday at the Extra Innings baseball facility in Littleton, and Scott Hormann is a busy man.
He’s giving lessons, working the front desk, fielding phone calls.
It’s a good day for some indoor work. Outside, it’s somewhere between chilly and cold. Local fields are mostly wet. Snow has been a recent visitor to the area.
“Weather is an issue,” Hormann said. “This happens every spring. A storm like this will roll through, and you just have to deal with it.”
He hasn’t been coaching high school baseball all that long.
Hormann started in nearby Aurora, coaching at Regis Jesuit in 2005 and Cherokee Trail in 2006. He moved on to Heritage for two seasons, then was elevated to his first head coaching position with the Eagles.
Heritage has about 1,600 students and competes in Class 5A, the biggest class in Colorado. Yet it’s one of the smallest 5A schools in the state.
Hormann moved to Colorado in the early 1990s. Most of his time in the ensuing years has been spent here.
He was smitten by the state in 1989 when he came here as an Eastern Michigan University football player. EMU played at Colorado State, about 75 miles up the road in Fort Collins.
He’s 71-66 at Heritage and 9-8 this season. The Eagles made it to the Elite 8 in 2009, but the last few years haven’t been great. HHS hasn’t qualified for the postseason since 2011.
Yet Hormann said his teams have generally been competitive, and he believes the 2015 Eagles have a good shot at making the tournament.
He’s also had considerable success getting his players into college programs, a very big deal to him.
“I’ve had opportunities to go to other schools and coach, but I’m going to coach at Heritage until they tell me I can’t do it anymore,” Hormann said. “I’m a Heritage guy just like I’m a Fairfield guy.”
It’s all open enrollment here, so you can end up with players that might live right across the street from a rival school.
Colorado teams can only play 19 regular-season games, though there is a movement afoot to increase that number to 23.
Hormann said baseball in general has grown tremendously in the Centennial State since the Colorado Rockies were born. He was at Coors Field for the first game the Rockies ever played in 1993.
How does Colorado baseball compare to Ohio baseball?
“The one thing Colorado has is pitching,” Hormann said. “I think it has to do with the fact that you’re pitching at high altitude at a young age, so you have to learn how to pitch pretty quick. If you just throw a fastball down the middle here, it’s going to go.
“It’s really good baseball here, a lot better than people think. But I think the overall baseball is better in Ohio. We don’t have the kind of summer baseball that kids need to grow and become great baseball players.”
He’s had multiple jobs through the years. He got his baseball coaching start with 14-year-olds in the late ’90s.
“Once you get the coaching bug, you’re done. You can’t do anything else,” Hormann said. “I’ve done other things, and none of them make me as happy as coaching. I have no desire to do anything else.”
Days as an Indian
Hormann played for three of the biggest names in Fairfield coaching history: Ben Hubbard (football), Ron Chasteen (basketball) and Gary Yeatts (baseball).
He learned valuable lessons from all three. Hubbard could get his point across with just a look. Chasteen was a tough-love guy who wouldn’t hesitate to call a player out. Yeatts was a master psychologist.
Football proved to be the sport where Hormann made his biggest mark.
As a sophomore, he stepped in at quarterback when junior John Curtis got hurt. The funny thing was, Hormann had never played QB before.
“I was playing tight end, but I always wanted to be a quarterback,” he said. “I was a pitcher, so they gave me a shot. We went 2-8. I led the (Greater Miami Conference) in passing that year because we were behind all the time.”
Curtis was back at full strength in 1985 and led Fairfield to its first Division I playoff appearance. Hormann found some humility on the junior varsity team.
“I tell my kids this story about Johnny Curtis all the time,” he said. “He came back and played great, and I didn’t play at all. I remember my dad’s advice was, you can either quit and go concentrate on baseball and basketball, or you can be the best JV quarterback in the country. It was the greatest advice I ever got.
“I worked hard at it and learned a lot. That’s when I became a decent quarterback. The JV team went 10-0. I had a lot of fun and went on to win a state championship and get a football scholarship.
“What if I would’ve quit? In today’s society, those people quit. It’s always the coach’s fault. It’s always somebody else’s fault. But I never quit.”
The 1986 season was a magical ride at Fairfield. The Indians went 13-1 and beat Lakewood St. Edward 21-20 in the state championship game at Ohio Stadium.
Hormann threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to his favorite target, John Pfeifer, in that game.
“That was a record for a long time, and I threw the ball about 5 yards. He ran the rest of the way with it,” Hormann said.
“We were just a bunch of kids that loved to be together. We were together from the time we were 12, 13 years old. We had something special. Great athletes, guys that loved to compete.”
Bill Stewart was Fairfield’s offensive coordinator at the time. He said Hormann was a natural leader.
“I’ve said this more than once about him,” Stewart said. “If we were dressed in gasoline suits and ready to walk through the fires of hell, Hormann would tell you we’d get to the other side and be all right. And everybody would believe him.”
Hormann appreciates the compliment. He said his mind-set was a mixture of naivety and cockiness.
“When I stepped on the field, I just felt I was going to win,” Hormann said. “I’m not sure why I felt that way. Whether we were playing wiffle ball in the backyard or 21 in basketball, I wanted to win at all costs.
“That doesn’t mean it’s a great trait to have. That’s just the way it was.”
He accepted a football scholarship to Eastern Michigan and headed to Ypsilanti. That’s where his playing career turned in a different direction.
A painful reality
Hormann went to EMU with high hopes and, in his view, high expectations from the folks back home in Fairfield.
He declined some baseball scholarship offers. Hormann was told he could play both sports at EMU, but he scrapped the baseball option when it was made clear to him that he’d be at the bottom of the depth chart if he skipped spring football.
What he discovered on the gridiron was this: He was just a high school star trying to stand out among many high school stars.
Hormann admits now that he didn’t have the work ethic to be a starter at the D-I level.
He got a ring when Eastern won the Mid-American Conference title and the California Bowl in 1987, but earned just one letter in 1990.
Hormann played in eight games that year, starting one, and that was the extent of his collegiate career. He completed 36 of 65 passes for 433 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
Those underwhelming numbers were part of the reason Hormann decided to move away from Fairfield after he left EMU without graduating (he finished his education degree at Metro State in Denver).
“One of my biggest regrets was not finishing something that I started,” Hormann said. “I still had some maturing to do.
“Winning a state championship was a blessing and a curse. There was a lot of pressure with that. We would go to the mall and people would be wanting my autograph.
“At the time, you think it’s really cool, but you don’t realize the amount of pressure. I wasn’t very good in college. I felt bad that I let my coaches and my city down.
“People acted like I was some kind of celebrity. I was just a guy. To me, the state championship was a football game. It was a great football game and one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, but I was just a kid playing football with my buddies.”
Tragedy hits home
A drive through Littleton would never give anyone the idea that this place is a national symbol of sadness. But wherever the word is spoken, an explanation is rarely necessary.
That’s Columbine High School, where one of the deadliest school shootings in United States history took place. On April 20, 1999, two students killed 13 people before shooting themselves.
“That was a rough day,” Hormann recalled. “I think everybody who was around during that time knows exactly where they were and what they were doing. I was working at The Yard Sports Complex, and that day I was doing a delivery over in that part of town.
“I heard it on the radio. I remember every single radio station stopped what they were doing. Everything just stopped. I immediately stopped what I was doing, went home and just sat in front of the TV the rest of the day. It was surreal that it was happening in your backyard.
“Columbine changed the culture of high school. I don’t think anybody ever feels truly safe anymore.”
It remains an open wound in these parts, particularly at this time of year. Columbine was closed last Monday, the 16th anniversary of the tragedy. It’s always closed April 20.
The Columbine Memorial is a powerful tribute to the deceased. It’s located next to the school in Clement Park.
Hormann is now a security guard at Heritage, so school safety is a daily part of his life.
“I think (Columbine) was a case of two kids that felt like they didn’t belong to something, and that sucks,” Hormann said. “It should make everybody understand that there are just different kinds of people in this world.”
Content in Colorado
Scott Hormann will celebrate his 47th birthday Sunday.
A divorced father of 10- and 12-year-old girls (Kaiya and Teela), he lives in Highlands Ranch, a short drive away from his school. His father Dick was a successful softball coach at Cherokee Trail and also lives in the area.
Hormann doesn’t get back to Fairfield much these days. He’d like to, but never seems to have the time. And flying across the country isn’t cheap.
“Things are really good,” Hormann said. “I don’t make a ton of money. I learned very early when I was making a lot of money that money wasn’t important to me. The joy I get from working with kids and the satisfaction of seeing a kid succeed is what motivates me.”
Hormann recently joined the Heritage football staff and coached the running backs last fall as the Eagles went 7-4. He coaches summer baseball with the Colorado Khaos, an organization he co-founded more than a decade ago.
Sometimes he drives toward the mountains just for the calming effect. The majestic view is an endless attraction.
A member of the Fairfield Athletic Hall of Fame, Hormann said his hometown will always have a place in his heart. But this is home now.
“I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be,” he said. “It took a winding road to get here, but I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.”
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