They've known for months, but for Jim Felice and Scott Manchester, the feeling of getting to run athletic departments at St. Mary's and Canon City, respectively, provided butterflies and excitement.
In the past few weeks, Felice, a former coach and administrator in Widefield School District 3, officially took the reins as athletic director at St. Mary's, succeeding Ed Latimer, who retired over summer.
Manchester, a former teacher, counselor and coach, returned to his alma mater Wednesday for his first day on the job, following Bob Trahern.
Latimer and Trahern each held their positions 11 years.
"It's one thing to take over for a legend, but the people here have been wonderful and have welcomed me with open arms," said Felice, who spent the past seven years in Widefield's central administration after earlier serving as first head football coach at Mesa Ridge. "There are going to be people that miss Ed, and they should, but I'm my own person. I've been around way too long to worry about that."
Manchester had to leave the profession to realize how much he loved it. The 1987 Canon City graduate taught middle school history while coaching, then later became a counselor. While he enjoyed an endeavor as assistant principal, he missed what he had.
"I decided my passion was still to coach and counsel, and this opportunity opened up," Manchester said. "Now, it's a matter of having the best of both worlds."
Both had the chance to learn under their predecessors, attending meetings and getting to know the coaching staffs before breaking for summer. Each is ready to fly solo but knows a reliable source is a phone call away.
"I'm jumping in with both feet, but Bob has been a huge resource," Manchester said. "It's comforting to know that all that wisdom and expertise is there at the touch of a phone. I'm honored and privileged to be the AD at my alma mater."
Felice reunites with principal Mike Biondini, with whom he worked at Widefield two decades ago, and likes the smaller school aspect.
"There are only 345 kids here, and that's the big difference," Felice said. "You can get to know the people by name here. But no matter where you go, athletics is athletics, it doesn't matter if it's 1A or 5A."