Jake Miller: A place to play



Jake Miller

— I have seen asphalt bloody too many knees. I have left far too many voicemails on coach’s phones about borrowing keys. I have had far too many shots look like they are going in only to get sent into orbit by a cheap double-rim that would cause even Ray Allen to put up Shaq-like free throw numbers.

What I am trying to say is Steamboat Springs needs a recreation center.

I am barely containing a rant about how nearly all of the outdoor basketball courts in town are technically foul for any real competitive games. Additionally, the athletic department at the high school, which has faced a funding crisis the past two years, hiring a full-time gym supervisor is not feasible.

In short, the city owes the youths in this community a place play.

I always will consider growing up here in the Yampa Valley one of the greatest blessings of my life. Once I got into high school, though, I faced the harsh reality of the few opportunities there were for me to play the game I love.

No matter how many coach’s numbers I had, no matter how many open gyms were scheduled and no matter how many doors I propped open on my way out of the gym the night before, I would find myself with my forehead pressed against the glass doors outside the high school gym at least once per week during the summer.

I shudder to think of the basketball withdrawals I would have had if my dad hadn’t given me a sanctuary in the hoop he put up in our backyard. More than that, I shudder to think about my life without the lessons I learned from the game.

Because of hoops, I was lucky enough to have some incredible people shape who I am today.

Former Steamboat coach Kelly Meek taught me the value of being someone who is confident in his abilities and who would face anyone and lay anything on the line for his teammates.

Assistant coach Jim Bronner taught me the guys who make great teams are the ones who know when to lead by example and the ones who do the tough little things like rebound and dive for loose balls.

Volunteer youth basketball coach Devin Borvansky showed me the importance of having dreams and how much of yourself you have to give to make those dreams possible.

Coach Luke DeWolfe taught me to put hard work into sports and relationships.

I list all these incredible role models basketball has given me, and I get sad for the kids in this town who won’t pick up the game or continue with it because they aren’t fortunate enough to have a place to play the game safely, comfortably and competitively.

This is why, I think we need a public indoor court. We were close in 2008, and now is the time.

We are a ski town, but we are a ski town with a rich basketball tradition. Steamboat Springs High School has won 45 league, district or regional championships since 1974. As of late, that tradition has been faltering.

If we give children a place to learn the game, Steamboat’s youth basketball programs will continue to expand. Combine that with the dramatic improvement the high school team would see, and our rich tradition could only grow to provide a greater sense of pride in this community.

I know I can be easily dismissed as an overly idealistic college sophomore with a basketball bias, but please think about the kids with their foreheads pressed against glass doors who want this and the others seeking some direction in life who need this.

Jake Miller, a 2012 graduate of Steamboat Springs High School, is working as a summer intern for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. He recently completed his freshman year at Nebraska Wesleyan University, where he played basketball.


Ulrich Salzgeber 12 months ago

Although I appreciate your frustrations on the lack of basketball courts I have an issue with your one statement that "the city owes the youths in this community a place play". If you feel this strongly about a rec center than start doing something about it! How do you think the Ice rink or the tennis center or Haymaker golf course or the core trail happened? It was the community as a whole who saw a need and came together collaboratively to accomplish these goals. If this is a hot ticket item for you then start doing the research from other like communities who have rec centers. What are the costs, the economic impacts, the useage, etc. Figure out how to pay for this without coming back to the citizens for more taxes (yes there are ways) and begin the process of identifying locations and what the Rec center should look like and include. This is your opportunity to get together with like minded peers and accomplish something that you can have pride in for decades to come just as we have with the amenities mentioned above. Its time for new leadership to step up. is that you? I hope so.
As an intermediate step why does the school need a full time gym supervisor? Get a group together and approach the School District about the possibility of using one of the gyms, Volunteer to open, close, clean up and even gather funds to pay for electricity useage.

I look forward to seeing what you have been able to accomplish in a few years.


Cresean Sterne 12 months ago

I dont know about a rec center but as prices keep going up at old town rec it is beoming an expensive place for parents to take there kids to go swimming..I would love to see a public facility here that is truly for the public..What we do have is falling apart unless its a park or atlhletic field..Its obvious that the maintnance for our FREE public facilities has been neglected..Our tennis courts are a great example..This is such an athletic town that it suprises me why our public facilities are not kept up..Yes it costs money but it will cost more if we keep letting them crummble apart..Even the core trail has needed repairs in certain areas for years.. Ulrich is right and that anyone can make a change if they truly focus there time and energy into it..I am with you Jake on any kind of FREE public facility for the community and quality up keep..I think you will find a great number of people who would agree with your cause..


Brian Kotowski 12 months ago

Oh for heaven's sake. We live in one of the recreational meccas in the universe. Anyone who can't find "a place to play" here is deliberately indolent. We have excellent coaches/teachers/mentors/parents providing the leadership & administering the life lessons to which Mr. Miller pays tribute. Believe it or not, imparting those values is not contingent upon a rec center.


Cresean Sterne 12 months ago

I dont think this is about our great coaches, mentors ar Stmbt being a great recreational mecca..Anyone who thinks that Stmbt doesnt provide that is obviously a couch potato.. I also dont think it is about being indolent although there are some out there..I believe this has to do with the maintnance of the facilities we have..Having clean updated facilites that are FREE to the public..They are not in horrible condition but are getting there..All anyone has to do is take a stroll around to some of these facilities and see for yourself..Some TLC is needed..


mark hartless 12 months ago

Mr. Miller,

The city owes you NOTHING.

It is YOU who at this stage of your life owe something to the city, and to society at large; namely to get off your can and get a job, pay your share in taxes, save the balance of your own money, and donate it to the city for the purpose of building an indoor basketball facility.

To have the audacity to declare what you are owed for recreational purposes while others struggle to merely feed and clothe their children or to provide them medical care is to blatantly declare your selfishness, shallowness, laziness, and ignorance of the domain of municipal government.


Mark Ruckman 12 months ago

Jake, thanks for putting your thoughts out there for public review :)

If you are able to get enough like minded people to join you, then maybe you have a shot at taking this to the community.

I think the short term answer is to work with the school system that has already used the public $ to build courts and work to find a solution on obtaining access to the courts.


Dan Hill 12 months ago

I like cricket - it's an affliction, I was raised in Australia, so I can't help it :-) Those dinky little baseball fields just don't cut it for a good game of cricket. The community OWES me a great big cricket oval!

Here's an idea. How about people start paying for their own stuff (or failing that, at least hit up their own parents rather than complete strangers) instead of expecting the government to give it to them - by first taking the money from their friends and neighbors.


Scott Wedel 12 months ago

An outdoor court at your home was your sanctuary which is why we need a public indoor court?

I think a valid point is made that the condition of the free outdoor courts around town are deplorable. The city and school district should improve the condition of their outdoor courts. Maybe Mr Miller will use his pulpit to organize those improvements instead of taking the attitude of a spoiled kid.

Plus, an indoor court is not going to be free and thus limits the ability for many kids to play. So that is hardly the solution to the problem.


john bailey 12 months ago

and to think , this is our youth , our future. god help us ........but hey I have free hula lessons hows that ya whippersnapper....


jerry carlton 12 months ago

Mr Sterne Nothing in this life is FREE. Everything is paid for by someone one way or the other.


Bret Marx 12 months ago

Remember folks, city employees have been furloughed since 2008. The Parks and Rec. department was the hardest hit with budget cuts. That furlough entailed ALL city employees except police, fire and bus drivers, yes bus drivers, hours being cut along with 10% of there pay. Want to know why city facilities are not being maintained and kept up? Ask your city council members. And sorry Cresean and Jake, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch! Cuginos doesn't hand out free pizza anymore. All the users of the FREE city facilities should be happy for what they got, not what they don't. Or you can play kick the can, that's FREE! Just pick one out of any recycling receptacle you find.


Bret Marx 12 months ago

Excuse me, the city employee hours that got cut equaled 10% of there pay. There was not 10% of pay cut in addition to the hours cut.


jerry carlton 12 months ago

Bret I agree with all you say but even with the 10% cut, city, county, and school district jobs are the second best wage paying jobs with the best benefits in the county. Two places do surpass them. The hospital and the coal mine. I have no big study to support this opinion, just personal observations and 7 years of looking for year round employment here 10 years ago.


Cresean Sterne 12 months ago

Oh...Cmon now Jerry you know what I meant talking about pd facilities like the tennis center or free to public like Howlesen courts...If you say that nothing is free for the public courts then fix them up before someone breaks an ankle on the heaved up concrete with 2-4 inch deep cracks throughout..If my tax money is helping pay for this then the up keep should be a high priority..The city who maintaines these public facilities should care just as much about the up keep as the community..And when someone who travels through Stmbt wants to stop and shoot some hoops, play tennis or kick a soccerball around they can for FREE (without paying) on the pubic facilities..Yes are sales tax may go twords some of these but your realy comparing apples to oranges..


Cresean Sterne 12 months ago

With all the wasted money the city as spent, I find it hard to believe that they cant set some money aside every year for up keep..Also, didnt some on the city council just get a raise for more circuse lions, firery hoops, clowns and juggling sticks..


mark hartless 11 months, 4 weeks ago

perkaps tha sity outta cet sum munny asid ta stert a progrim fer grammir end spelinn...


jerry carlton 11 months, 4 weeks ago

I am with you Mark. Oh yeah, they are called pubic (sic) schools.


rhys jones 11 months, 4 weeks ago

You guys got it all wrong -- readin' and writin' and 'rithmetic ain't important in Resort Management, but Sports Knowledge sure is!! Good Looks and a Tie help too.


Mark Ruckman 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Jake, hang in there... I'm sure it was interesting to read the backlash on your article. Nothing gets the online crowds more excited than taxes, government and politics. Mention any of these three and you will get reactions.

Keep working on your articles and enjoy your summer internship.


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