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CSU Pueblo Head Football Coach, John Wristen, Announces Retirement and New Role as Athletics Development and External Relations Officer

Release Date: December 13, 2022

Gena Alfonso

Director of Communications/PIO

Marketing, Communications, Community Relations

(719) 549-2284

John Wristen
Pueblo - Head Football Coach John Wristen announces retirement from coaching and an expanded role at CSU Pueblo. After leading the football program at CSU Pueblo for 15 seasons, Wristen will now serve as the Athletics Development and External Relations Officer.

“We are thrilled that Coach Wristen will continue as a valued member of our Pack. I can’t thank him enough for his service to this institution and for his leadership as head coach of our championship football team,” President Timothy Mottet said. “He’s left his mark on this program, not only as the first head coach for Pack Football, but by establishing a culture of winning and giving back to the community. I have full confidence that John’s drive for our athletics programs will allow us to build upon our tradition of excellence and enhance the on-campus experience for every student.”

Wristen will be responsible for leading fundraising initiatives to help support athletics programs at CSU Pueblo, including providing stewardship for existing donors as well as cultivating new donors. In addition to the Pueblo community, which has a long history of supporting CSU Pueblo athletics, he has an extensive network of alums and professional colleagues throughout the country who are poised to support Wristen’s 15 years of work at CSU Pueblo as head football coach.

“Coach Wristen has been a dynamic leader for our football program. We look forward to having him in this enhanced role within the athletics department,” Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Athletics Director, Dr. Paul Plinske said.

Coach Wristen was hired by CSU Pueblo in July 2007 and charged with bringing back football and building that program from the ground up. The Pack’s inaugural season kicked-off in the Fall 2008. The ThunderWolves finished their first season with a 4-6 record, the fourth-best for a startup program in NCAA Division II history.

“My coaching career actually started at CSU Pueblo in 1984. I was finishing up student teaching and had an opportunity to coach during that last season we had football on campus. Being able to come back as the head coach, when football returned in 2007, was absolutely the highlight of my career. It’s been an unbelievable feeling. I’m grateful to CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank, President Mottet, and Dr. Paul Plinske for supporting my coaching career and for giving me this incredible opportunity to play a larger role at the university,” Coach John Wristen said.

Within seven years, Wristen led the team to its first NCAA Division II Championship title in 2014. Following the Pack’s historic win, Wristen was named the 2014 American Football Coaches Association Division II Coach of the Year. He was named the Coach of the Year by the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference consecutively from 2011 to 2015, and received the honor again in 2017. During his tenure, the Pack has made seven appearances in NCAA Division II playoffs and won seven RMAC Championships.

Wristen finishes his coaching career with the second best winning percentage – a distinction among all active NCAA Division II Coaches – finishing with an overall record of 123-32 and 100-22 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC).

Coach Wristen has been an active supporter of the United Way of Pueblo County and has served on boards throughout the community and in the NCAA Division II leadership.

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