AURORA – Rhonda Blanford Green took in her last Colorado High School Activities Association Legislative Council meeting on April 21.
She discussed the association's budget, and she thanked the council for the privilege of serving as CHSAA's commissioner.
"We've been through a lot together the past 14 months," she said. Her husband passed away, as did former associate commissioner Tom Robinson. "There were a lot of times when I had to be Rhonda and be the commissioner. I had to have a safe place to be Rhonda.
"I told Tom this, and he said, 'Being underestimated is a gift,'" Green continued. "It was tough putting one foot in front of the other with all the racial and misogynistic comments about the purpose of high-school sports. We persevered through that."
CHSAA Board President Luke DeWolfe said the association was in jeopardy when Green took over in 2017.
"Through your fierce dedication, you saw us through some challenging times," DeWolfe said. "I was humbled at the summer National Federation of High Schools conference last summer to watch Rhonda speak and to speak with the second and third African-American commissioners. They both acknowledged that without her, they would not have had the opportunity they had."
Green singled out former assistant commissioner Ernie Derrera, the newly named wrestling coach at Holy Family High School and former athletic director at Frederick High School, for "never being afraid to say what the members need and questioning decisions in a way that was respectful." She also talked about the support of Paul Cain, the district athletic director for Grand Junction schools.
"After my husband died, I took a flight and realized that no one cared if I landed," she said. "I had to have a Rhonda moment where I could cry. Paul Cain called and asked if I was OK. I told him I wasn't. He said, 'From here on out, you text me and say, 'Honey, I'm here."
Green announced her retirement late last year. She is the new president of USA Cheer board of directors.
"It's been my honor to serve you," Green told the council. "We haven't always been on the same page. But we've always had the same message."