Heritage Christian’s Joe Packard does a little bit of everything. He’s the boys and girls track and field coach, the boys and girls cross country coach and the girls basketball coach. Packard was born in Grand Junction, lived in Iowa and has been in Fort Collins for the past nine years. The girls basketball team at Heritage Christian has had an impressive season so far. The Eagles (15-1, 7-0 Class 2A Mile High League) are ranked third in the Colorado Associated Press 2A girls poll, and they’ll face No. 5 Liberty Common (14-1, 7-0 MHL) at Liberty Common School at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Q: What’s the hardest sport to coach?
A: I’d have to say girls basketball. I never saw myself coaching girls basketball, and yet this team has become on of my deepest joys in life. However, basketball brings so many more variables, strategies and pressures than the other sports I coach. And let’s be real, one guy alone with 17 female athletes and five more female coaches is going to present plenty of occasional adversity.
Q: Did you compete in sports in college?
A: Yes, I had the privilege of running for a Division II national championship program at Western State College. I ran cross country and indoor and outdoor track there.
Q: What’s the hardest athletic event you’ve completed?
A: I am not sure what was harder on me, the Portland Marathon or the Imogene Pass Run (a 17.1-mile race from Ouray to Telluride over a 13,000-foot mountain).
Q: What’s your most memorable coaching experience?
A: Immediately, several exciting accomplishments at HCA come to mind. Watching our cross country teams qualify for state in our first years as a program; our boys and girls getting first and fourth, respectively, at state in track in their first year; and the way the girls basketball program has gone from a one-win team to now a one-loss team are all so special. But it really has to be my coaching experience at Heritage Christian in general.
Q: Do you have a family?
A: I’ve been married to my wife, Michal (no e in her name) for 10 years (she’s the real athlete and coach in the family), and we have a son named Eddie who just turned 4.
Q: When not coaching something, do you have any other jobs?
A: I am a full-time associate pastor at Immanuel Community Church in Fort Collins.
Q: What are some of your hobbies?
A: My church family and my faith in Jesus Christ are my No. 1 hobby. I also love sports, games and most anything outdoors. I’m into hiking fourteeners, eating out, reading the Bible and biographies on accomplished people, doing disaster relief and missions work anywhere I can, and whatever my 4-year-old son is into.
Q: Are you a sports fan? If so, do you have a favorite sport you follow?
A: I’m all about every professional sport in Colorado and am a homer to a fault. I pay especially close attention to the Broncos, the Nuggets and our CSU Rams. The only team in Colorado I have actively cheered against is the CU Buffs, part of which also comes from growing up an avid Nebraska Cornhusker.
Q: Do you have a favorite athlete?
A: I’ll go with the first one that popped into my mind; I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed watching an athlete as much as I enjoyed watching running back Barry Sanders of the Detroit Lions as a kid. His humility and integrity in the midst of his athletic brilliance left an unmistakeable mark on me.
Q: What do you like to do in and around Fort Collins?
A: I’ve never enjoyed living anywhere as much as I do here. My wife and I love to explore the endless restaurants we have. I love the endless running and biking trails that we have access to. We love being in a college town that also has such a family-friendly feel to it. Lately, you’d find us visiting all the great local parks Fort Collins offers for children, exploring things in Old Town or just spending time with friends.