Griem was instrumental in assisting superintendents and principals in the reorganization of the Colorado High School Activities Conference (CHSAC) in 1921. In 1924, CHSAC joined the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations changing it’s name to the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) in 1943.
When Willard N. Griem was a farm boy growing up in Johnson County, Missouri, he had no inkling of the athletic turn his life would take. When not in school, he occupied himself with the usual farm chores. It was not until high school in Warrensburg that his athletic experiences began as a tackle on the football squad and center for the basketball team.
Griem attended Warrensburg State Normal School (now Central Missouri State University), majoring in mathematics, and later went on to earn a Master’s degree in physical education at Springfield College in Massachusetts. While on the Springfield football team, Griem remembered the victory of his team over Kemper Military Academy, 127-0, as one of the greatest triumphs in his life.
Upon obtaining his degree, Griem went to war instead of work and served two years in France. He then took a job as Recreation Director for the Red Cross at Walter Reed Hospital. He found his real love to be in the field of education and spent the next five years as Director of Physical Education and coach of football, basketball and track at Warrensburg. “Our college was one of the first to go into games for women,” he said.
The coach’s reputation spread to Denver, and in 1924 the Denver Public Schools offered him the newly created position of Director of Health, Education and Athletics. At that time, there were no “minor” sports in the Denver Schools. He added swimming, golf, tennis and gymnastics, and instituted after-school and summer sports programs for kids who could not make the varsity teams.
Griem remained in this position with the Denver Public Schools until his mandatory retirement thirty-two years later in 1955.
In 1955, Griem was also instrumental in setting up an operating contract with the Denver Zoological Foundation. It was through his guidence that the zoo was kept open and improved. He also served as President of the Board of Trustees from 1970-76.
He added swimming, golf, tennis and gymnastics, and instituted after-school and summer sports programs for kids who could not make the varsity teams.