Jake Miller: A place to play | SteamboatToday.com

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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.