John Underwood, founder of the American Athletic Institute, talks to local law enforcement officials about substance abuse and abuse research Wednesday at Centennial Hall. Underwood also spoke to school district coaches and extracurricular activity sponsors Wednesday evening.

Photo by Matt Stensland

John Underwood, founder of the American Athletic Institute, talks to local law enforcement officials about substance abuse and abuse research Wednesday at Centennial Hall. Underwood also spoke to school district coaches and extracurricular activity sponsors Wednesday evening.

Underwood pushes community approach to underage drinking


If you go

John Underwood's remaining focus groups


8:25 to 9:40 a.m. Steamboat Springs High School student body (group one)

9:50 to 11:05 a.m. Steamboat Springs High School student body (group two)

12:45 to 1:45 p.m. Hayden High School students and parents

3:45 to 5 p.m. Steamboat Springs High School and Middle School

administration and staff

6 to 7:30 p.m. Youth recreation,

at Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.


Noon to 2 p.m. Community, at Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

By the numbers

48 percentage of students nationally who have used alcohol by 12th grade

24 percentage of students nationally who have used marijuana by 12th grade

200 percentage Routt County is above state rate for alcohol-related traffic fatalities

119 percentage Routt County is above state rate for youth alcohol-related arrests

123 percentage Routt County is above state rate for adult alcohol-related arrests

54 percentage of Steamboat Springs High School students who reported using alcohol in the past 30 days

40 percentage of Steamboat Springs High School students who reported getting drunk one or more times in the past three weeks

42 percentage of Steamboat Springs High School students who reported riding with a driver who has been drinking in the past year

18 percentage of Steamboat Springs High School students who reported driving after drinking in the past year

77 percentage of Hayden High School students who report having used alcohol in their lifetime

23 percentage of Hayden Middle School students who report having used alcohol in their lifetime

69 percentage of Hayden High School students who have used alcohol in the past month

18 percentage of Hayden Middle School students who have used alcohol in the past month

Source: John Underwood, president and founder, American Athletic Institute

— After one of his many presentations on youth substance abuse in Steamboat Springs this week, John Underwood was shocked when a sixth-grader challenged his concepts, arguing that smoking pot improved snowboarding.

Underwood gave the child the same message he has given countless athletes through the American Athletic Institute, a consulting firm whose primary focus is educating athletes about the dangers of drug and alcohol use.

"As good as you guys are, you're nowhere as good as you could be," Underwood, president and founder of the institute, said he told the student.

Steamboat Springs Police Capt. Joel Rae said the fact that many Steamboat youths don't know the information Underwood is presenting underscores the value of having him here. Rae said "I didn't know that" is the most common reaction he has heard.

"When you get to the point where kids are not aware of the dangers (of drug and alcohol use), it is our job to educate them," Rae said.

Rae, along with Steamboat Springs High School counselor Kelle Schmidt, spearheaded the effort to bring Underwood to Steamboat after he impressed both at separate conferences they attended. Underwood's series is part of a collaborative effort by Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, Steamboat Springs School District, Steamboat Springs Police Department, the Youth Wellness Initiative and Parent Academy.

The series has included several focus group meetings with specific messages for subsections of the community such as parents, students, human services personnel and law enforcement. Underwood held a forum for the whole community Wednesday night, and he will hold another at noon Friday at Centennial Hall.

"We're really lucky to have him here," Grand Futures Director Colleen Lyon said. Lyon said Underwood only does eight or nine such series a year nationwide.

Underwood said he gets requests to speak to athletes and coaches only, but on an issue such as underage alcohol and drug use, he prefers to engage the whole community.

"You won't fix this problem in one venue," he said. "Many messengers with the same message - that's how you make a difference in communities."

Underwood said Steamboat, like the resort community of Lake Placid, N.Y., which he hails from, has higher rates of drug of alcohol use than national and state rates.

"Resort towns have big issues with drug use," Underwood said. "The unfortunate part is it filters down to your kids. Your use rates are way above the national average."

"If we're being called in, obviously the problem already exists," added T.W. Bruyer, a detective and alcohol enforcement team coordinator for the Flathead County (Mont.) Sheriff's Office who works with Underwood.

Underwood said his goal for the week is to provide the community first with better information, and second with ideas for systems, policies and procedures to put in place to deter the use of social drugs.

Underwood said suggestions for Steamboat may include raising standards for youth behavior through codes of conduct and increased consequences for alcohol and drug use. After Friday's community meeting, Rae and Lyon said a group of key stakeholders will gather to discuss Underwood's recommendations and the possible adoption of them.

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail


weallnutz 8 years, 11 months ago

since doing away with the county's dare program has the sherriff's office replaced it with any kind of drug/alcohol related education for the teens in the county? Or is the only education to be led by example, drink, drive, deny all tests, fight all the way through court. Suppose the county will be supportive of more strict punishment for alcohol related incidents?


cantstanya 8 years, 11 months ago

Nice photo, wow, is that ole Gary Wall in the background. Gary, how about sitting there with Jd and Joel and embrace this issue instead of standing in the back of the room!!?? It would be interesting to hear your comments on this issue??


id04sp 8 years, 11 months ago

Look at the latest alcohol compliance check results. No violations.

That says volumes about how much good DARE did. It was like so many other things the old RCSO did. Visible, but ineffective.

Anybody who thinks DARE actually stopped anybody from using drugs or alcohol is, uh, smoking dope. If the parents don't police it on a family level, then how is one cop and a flashy paint job going to make a difference?

Isn't it possible that Mr. Wall actually hired officers who are deterring drug trafficking in the community? The old ones sure didn't do much good in that area.

If it took electing a drunk to make the county safer and more peaceful, then okay, that's what it took.

Maybe the reason that break-ins are up this week is because it's harder to make a living trafficking.

If you want to blame dope on somebody, then blame it on the adult dopers who make it available to kids. We can be pretty sure that none of these young kids are growing it in the woods . . . at least not until it warms up a bit more.

Maybe when ACET runs out of Mexicans they'll go after some white folks in Steamboat who bring the stuff in and sell it to kids.


freerider 8 years, 11 months ago

If you look at numbers it's alcohol that's the big problem...the gateway drug to death along with nicotine and pharmaceuticals....number one in suicides for sure's a deadly combo...I've been smoking pot for 40 years..I agree with the kid..makes skiing more fun ...or boarding...I'm freking sick and tired of hearing the lies by our government about these days aren't stupid and it's insulting to anybody that's smoked pot to hear the Ignorance that spews out of the pie hole of police or anybody that defends the position that marijuana is bad for you...personally I'm glad that pot ended up being my choice...notice I said my choice of recreational herb...notice I didn't say drug...cuz it's not a's a God given right to smoke herb..unless you want to live in a fascist police state then keep it illegal...all you are doing is protecting the profits of drug lords and the CIA...the CIA and DEA are the biggest dealers on the planet..remember the Ollie North fiasco..?? IGNORANCE IS THE PATHWAY TO DESTRUCTION.....I'll still be on the mountain when I'm into my eighties or nineties...the alcohol and nicotine suckers will be pushing up the way I've also traveled all over the world and have spent time with world class athlete's ...some Olympic medal holders and professional skiers , boarders , and windsurfers, and have enjoyed getting high with them on pot. This planet need to grow up and smell the herb.


housepoor 8 years, 11 months ago

funny thing is ACET always seems to bust the illegals or younger drug dealer when the same 3 or 4 people have been the major players for 20+ years and ACET doesn't have a clue??? or are they just protected


id04sp 8 years, 11 months ago


Yes, they are protected. Just now figuring that out, are you?

Know why? Too many people "in the system" from bar association members to members of LE would be outed in a New York minute if these folks were hauled in. The network extends at least down to Granby/Winter Park and Bob Adams field is a big enabler in the system.

There are people sitting on fortunes in real estate that were purchased with proceeds from trafficking 15 to 25 years ago, or maybe even longer. That's how kids who came out to work as river guides and lift operators in the 70s became millionaires in the 90s. Duh.


And they say pot doesn't make you paranoid . . . your post would indicate otherwise. QED


localboy17 8 years, 11 months ago

No matter what they do, kids will always drink. If parents and police crack down the most possible and make it a complete mission to prevent underage drinking, it will still happen. No matter what they do, there is no way to prevent it. Marijuana, herb, pot, recreational Herb (freerider nicely put!) is something that the government and the police are just making ridiculous claims about. The numbers are staggering for the deaths and alcohol related deaths. But wait pot is so bad! It is linked with short term memory loss! What do you think alcohol does to children whose parents are alcoholics? All these parents who speak out against kids drinking go home at night in their BMW's and drink a bottle of wine. People are so distraught about how many kids drink underage, and then vote into office a Sherriff, I wont even call him a Sherriff, and idiot who said he would lighten up on kids and drives around drunk with guns in his car all screwed up on god knows what kind of chemical drugs. Meanwhile a couple of kids smoke some home grown non-laced herb and "Oh lord we have an epidemic!" THINK PEOPLE THINK!!! Drinking is going to happen, smoking is going to happen. Why don't we bring the cheap tipsy taxi back, so that at least when these kids drink (not if) they will have a safe ride home, and parents who let kids drink and teach them the responsible way to do so. What do think these kids learn when they go to Christmas parties with their parents and the parents get smashed then drive home. GREAT WORK PARENTS!!! Let your kids get blotto drunk once or twice and they will learn that hangovers suck. Then they will drink (which all kids do) but responsibly.


SilverSpoon 8 years, 11 months ago

If ACET was serius, the pull a johnny dep maneuver like "21 jump street", infiltrate the high school, and video tape the little angels of steamboat at a party. Or just ride the city bus. Teens have no apprehension about talking in public about drinking themselves sick every weekend.

The lesson that would be learned, is that if charges were brought against a kid breaking the law; the parents would fight like heck to "get them off". Now, we all know that no one ever takes accountability for their actions.

I think that punishments should also be separated from education. We all know that getting suspended is exactly what a student may want. I think they should be forced to spend more time in school, that is a real punishment. While their friends are getting wasted on friday night, there stuck in school learning calculus. Or another punishment is "not allowing them to graduate". This punishment puts them on the fast track to disaster. This punishment shouldn't be an option. To deal with the problem it will take, I hate to say it, PARENTS will need to do some parenting. Schools will need to embrace the troubled students rather than sending the problem away.

Also, I bet teenage suicide has little to do with drinking and drugging, and everything to do with hostile teenage behavior and teen inequality and bullying and pressure to be way better than their parents ever were.
NIMBY=not in my back yard NMC=not my child Yes, your child! and you're responsible.


id04sp 8 years, 11 months ago

Ya know, the real sad thing is that people living in such a beautiful and wonderful place have to resort to any kind of chemical means for recreational purposes.

What a bunch of pathetic losers.

Having a drink is one thing. Getting drunk is another. When getting drunk becomes a recreational goal, that's truly sad. You don't deserve to live here, because you don't appreciate it enough to protect yourself and other people by acting responsibly.


BowWow1 8 years, 11 months ago

Silver Spoon; You are so right! Most parents are in denial about their kids behaviors. We have the biggest bunch of parent enablers in this town. Just look at the stats for binge drinking for teenagers in this community and else where. And where were many of these parents the nights of Mr. Underwood's presentations???? No where to be found. It all starts at home and many of these alcohol abusers are the parents who have set the tone and modeled this pathetic behavior for their kids. Just ask anybody about the senior spring break trip to Mexico and you'll get an earful about both parental and teenage alcohol abuse and ridiculous behavior.


armchairqb 8 years, 11 months ago

id04sp get a clue-- /they could have had 100 %compliance a long time ago if they made a phone call to the establishment prior to their arrival. Look at the list it's the good ole boys that were spot checked. Tap House, 8th St. Steakhouse Central Park Liquors etc. Without a liquor authority PD was told no violations we won't know what to do with it if you issue one. The whole business is a joke!!!! All those years the council was in charge no one was licensed to practice law, now all of a sudden that is the no. 1 requirement for the job. They sure made sure they got that New Yorker though over at the Pirate's Pub before they changed policy.


id04sp 8 years, 11 months ago


And so how would DARE make a difference if kids could just go out and buy booze when they wanted it? Either way, it was a useless program that took a deputy away to spend time helping nobody.


outsiderlookingin 8 years, 11 months ago

As a parent that WAS on the senior trip to Mexico I can rightfully say that the actions of a few WERE NOT THE TYPICAL ACTIONS OF THE MANY. What I did see, was kids having FUN jumping off rocks, playing volleyball, swimming in the ocean, dancing @ the Disco & generally Kids Being Kids. Were their problems, you bet. But I did not condone those actions, but rather chose to observe (at a distance) what was going on that week. I can truly say I was PROUD of many of the students for the way they acted. (like true Ladies & Gentelman) Sure I had my doubts when I planned this trip. But showed my child you CAN have fun without alcohol. For the most part the kids of SSHS were GREAT & was glad I was there. Do not believe everything you hear. Gossip runs rampant in Steamboat. In fact people THRIVE on it!!! We REALLY do have GREAT KIDS. What may or may not have happened in Mexico was the exception rather than the rule.


SilverSpoon 8 years, 11 months ago

I am concerned that "observing at a distance" is not appropriate if it is someone you are responsible for or that you care about. Denial is always the first step to something really bad. However, if it is not your kid or pupil, you are allowed to say, "i am glad that is not my kid" If it is your kid or pupil, it is your responsibilty to step in.

I don't doubt that there are great kids in steamboat, as there are across this country. Unfortunatly we have to deal with the bad apples, the question is how? I think punishments that screw with a students academic future are off base; that darn permanent record the school holds over each students head: "If you screw up, your future is screwed!". Public service should be the punishment orange suits and picking trash off of the highway. Even an alcoholic can 4.0 high school. Why should weekend activities keep them out of college or even walking at graduation?


424now 8 years, 11 months ago

No amount of adult supervision will stop the true alcoholic kids in the Boat. Sad but true. The rest are just kids learning and sometimes the lesson needs to be sufficiently painfull in order to drive the point home. SSPD needs to watch the roads on friday night. When these kids get to doing the stupid things they sometimes do, sombody needs to be there.


80488mom 8 years, 11 months ago

My son just returned from an International competition. He told me about a group from Africa. They walked 23 kilometers to school each day. They live in mud and straw homes and their main diet was rice. He said they had trouble with the knives, forks and spoons. He was so taken by their desire to better themselves and impressed how they work through daily struggle. American children are over indulged. They are given everything. Many parents set low expectations. Your children will rise where you place the bar.


bloggyblog 8 years, 11 months ago

for the most part blog thinks the kids in steamboat are impressive. blog also agrees that the academic death sentence should not be the punishment for the troubled kids. in blogs opinion the challenging kids should be the ones worked on the most. not pushed aside or sent away because they make the school ,or the town, look bad. also, some of you would be surpised at how many youths in our little perfect bubble have parents that are mostly MIA.


424now 8 years, 11 months ago

This is more of an observation than my opinion.

The word mentor comes to mind.

It can mean the world to a kid who needs a role model. I won't promote letting the village raise your kid. I will advocate paying attention to the teens and kids in your surroundings. You more than likely are in the presence of kids at times. Do you notice? They honestly act as if they are invisible around adults. Why not? I have watched adults act is if kids are transparent. You have seen it. When a kid serves you your burger and never looks you in the eye. When you come into the presence of a group of kids and they all fall silent. They all stare at their shoes.

Pay attention because believe this, they are paying attention to you. As hard as children work at ignoring their parents, they listen intently to everyone else. The kids who need the most direction inherently look everywhere for it. I never understood why, but they do. In behaving as an intelligent considerate adult in the presence of teens you show them how adults are supposed to act.

Not all children have great parents. Through the simple act of treating a kid with respect, you can open a mind to the possibility of a positive future.


AmebaTost 8 years, 11 months ago

What happens in Mexico, should stay in Mexico!


housepoor 8 years, 11 months ago

true story: when i was 16.5 my friend and I scored a case of Miller high life......went to the drive in ....managed to drink 34 each..on the way home.....cops pulled us over...made us open the trunk(of course we didn't ??? him) we were very respectful & scared. The cop had us pull the cooler out and pour the beers out on the side of the road and the when we reached the last beer he said hold up and had us pour it over ourselves and said to now we could explain to our parents why we smelled of beer and sent us on our woke me up...unfortantly today I probably would have lost my driver lic & wound up in jail......the cops today do not have the luxury of such acts of reason


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