WSC Mourns Passing of Professor Emeritus Ken MacLennan
Jan. 10, 2011 – Western State College of Colorado (WSC) is mourning the loss of Ken MacLennan, a former student-athlete, coach, faculty member and administrator who passed away over the weekend.
Ken MacLennan was a member of the 1996 Mountaineer Sports Hall of Fame induction class after a long and storied career with the Mountaineers and with the Gunnison community.
MacLennan enrolled at Western on a basketball scholarship, but quickly made a name for himself with Sven Wilk and the Mountaineer ski program. He helped lead Western to the national ski cross country title in the inaugural NCAA championships in 1954, and set the school record in 1956 for the 880-yard run. MacLennan was also a member of the sprint medley relay team that set the record at the Rocky Mountain Conference meet in 1956.
MacLennan graduated in 1957 with a bachelor's degree and spent three years after graduation in the military. He operated the U.S. Army's Otter Lake Recreation Area at Fort Richardson, Alaska, and was able to train at the same time for the biathlon. He qualified for the first U.S. Biathlon Team at the 1960 Olympic Games in Squaw Valley, Calif.
MacLennan returned to Gunnison in 1961 to run the city's recreation department. He helped develop and maintain the Cranor Hill Ski Area north of Gunnison. He was the coach for the Rocky Mountain Junior National Team in 1964 and 1967 and was the Rocky Mountain Division Officer for the United States Ski Association from 1964 through 1968.
MacLennan became assistant ski coach for Wilk in 1967, and joined the WSC faculty in 1968. He succeeded Wilk as head coach in 1969 and started an 18-year career in charge of the Mountaineer program. He served two terms as the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association President, two years on the United States Ski Association Rocky Mountain Division Board of Directors and was a divisional representative for the National Collegiate Ski Association. He co-authored book titled “A Snow Lover's Guide to Winter Sports” in 1979 and served as the chief of the course for the NCAA Championships for 10 years.
In his 18 seasons, MacLennan coached:
- four NCAA National Collegiate All-Americans
- three AIAW All-Americans
- two National Collegiate Ski Association champions
- 16 NCSA All-Americans
- 25 All-RMISA skiers in the NCAA seasons
- 11 All-RMISA skiers in the NCSA seasons
MacLennan doubled as ski coach during his last two seasons as WSC athletic director. He reorganized the Century Club to the Mountaineer Century Club, and led renovations to the Mountaineer Bowl for the track, bleachers and scoreboard. He retired as ski coach after the 1987 season, and retired as athletic director after the 1988-89 academic year. He retired from the WSC faculty in 1996 and was granted emeritus status.
MacLennan remained active in the Gunnison community, and received recognition from Crested Butte Mountain Resort in 1996 for his Outstanding Contribution to the Ski Industry. Gunnison Nordic's annual “Kenny Mac Ski Fest” was named in his honor, but was changed to the “Gunnison Nordic Winter Fest” at MacLennan's request last season. This year's event is scheduled for Jan. 29, and will be ran in his memory.
MacLennan is survived by his wife Lynda and son Kevin. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, that donations be made in Ken's name to Gunnison Nordic, 18 Columbine Road. A memorial service is being planned for June.
Story by Jared Verner, sports information director, and posted with permission from WSC Athletics.