Published: July 30, 2013
With a husband and wife working as athletic directors for competing districts around Colorado Springs, some might consider the professional and personal drawbacks that might go with the territory.
Actually, it's anything but tenuous for Kelley Eichman, the athletic director of Fountain-Fort Carson since 2003, and District 11 athletic director Dave Eichman. Just a lot of work.
"Even to this day, when Fountain-Fort Carson plays a District 11 school, it's more of an opportunity where we actually see each other on the same night," said Dave, a Widefield graduate who later led Wasson's athletic department from 2001-06 before heading to the District 11 office. "Typically during the week, I'm going one place and she's going to another."
The former Kelley Smoot?graduated from Fountain-Fort Carson in 1982; Eichman graduated two years later from Widefield. They met while coaching at Sierra, during which both were working toward master's degrees in sports administration.
When they married in 1998 - Wednesday marks their 15th anniversary - neither foresaw a future in which both would reach the position of high school athletic director.
It just happened.
"I was teaching physical education at Fountain, then I got a call from Harrison," Kelley said. "They were looking for an assistant principal. I got involved with some of the AD responsibilities there, and that's how I got into it. People call you and pull you in. Now, I'm heading into my 11th year at Fountain-Fort Carson."
Dave coached three sports - football, boys' track and swimming - in 13 seasons at Sierra, then got his big break in 2001 when he was hired at Wasson for his first athletic director gig.
Interestingly enough, the Wasson opening became a competition for the couple, then in just their third married year.
Kelley applied for the job, too.
"That's where the rivalry was, when we applied for the same job," Dave said. "I said, 'Let the best man win.'"
Two years later, Kelley moved over from Harrison back to her alma mater.
Then, for parts of three years, when Fountain-Fort Carson, then a growing 4A school, played 5A Wasson, very little was actually on the line in nonleague matchups.
But Eichman vs. Eichman? It was always downplayed, but there was a friendly wager now and then.
"I think when we would play, it was not who would make dinner, but who would buy dinner," Kelley said. "We're not at home a lot to cook. I don't think we ever had a rivalry. We enjoyed our teams playing each other since we were able to be in the same gym at the same time."
With another school year weeks away, both look forward to the challenges at each endeavor, with the numerous interdistrict clashes that bring them together. Plus, it gives them more time to share with Jordis, their daughter who will turn 7 next month.
"We just make it work," Dave said. "During the winter, one of us is gone every night. We plan ahead. Sometimes, I can take her to a game. Other times, we get someone to watch her. A lot of it goes back to our days at Sierra. We coached three sports and got our master's degree in the same year, so we got used to being gone every night. That's all we know."
Then again, even without family pride necessarily on the line, the occasional get-togethers do prove beneficial on the professional side, too.
"When our schools play each other, we visit and share ideas," Kelley said. "We'll talk about Fountain's afterschool program versus what District 11 does, for example. We want our school to win when they're playing. When they're not, we support each other and figure out what's going to make our schools better when we're competing against everybody else."