Steamboat Springs This time of year reminds me most about playing sports in high school.
With Saturday’s graduation at Steamboat Springs High School, I’ve seen three classes start as freshmen and mature into seniors.
There will be a lot of advice this week and in the coming weeks about being leaders, changing the world and making the Class of 2012 a special one.
I’ll tell you I can’t remember what my graduation speaker said. I do remember playing on teams, the value of hard work and what sports generally taught me. In high school, we generally lost more than we won.
But that’s not what I’ll remember. It’s the teammates you play with that you remember.
As is the case with each class, 2012 reminds me of different things.
It never was a huge standout class of athletes. But watching for the past four years, certain memories stick out.
In no particular order, my favorite memories of the Class of 2012.
■ What could have been with Garrett Pugh. He returned an interception 101 yards for a touchdown his freshman year. Prior to his sophomore season, I went to a football practice. That was the team that made the state championship game in 2009. The most impressive player at practice wasn’t Austin Hinder, Joe Dover or Jack Spady. It was Pugh. Concussions derailed his career, but the little bit I got to see of Pugh will stick with me.
■ Kit Croop and Eric Trousil. Steamboat basketball always has been built on defense. There was something fun about watching those two play defense. For two years, they made opposing players hate life. They did it in a traditional Steamboat way. The two never were the best players on the court, but no one worked harder on defense.
■ Sydney Bauknecht. Watching Sydney go from an awkward sophomore to her senior year was a treat. She became a darn good soccer player. In basketball, no player improved more — or got yelled at more — than her. She went from not being able to dribble left-handed her sophomore year, to one of the better guards during her senior year.
■ Mary O’Connell and Emily Hannah. Watching the two ski was always a sight. But listening to the two talk helps you understand why they’re going to top flight academic institutions. The two helped me understand the relationship between skiing and academics.
■ Erik Lynch. Watching him grow from a young guy chasing Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane, to actually seeing him almost keep up. He’s the next in the long line of elite Nordic combined skiers.
■ Enrique Lopez. Just a tremendous young man. Plus it always was a pleasure to see him in the open field with a soccer ball. He did things on the soccer field that still make me gasp wondering how he did it.
■ Lance Ostrom. He was the best athlete of the bunch. Ostrom was good at just about everything he did. On the hockey ice, I’ll miss his one-man penalty kill. He was just a dominant player from the first time he took the field.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com