November 5, 2007
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This time last year, Keegan Burger’s emotions on the tennis court were like one of those cans of fake snakes, just waiting to explode. Unopened, not much happened and Burger usually would win. But when the top came open, everything — the racquet throws, the tantrums and the losses — would pour out.
There’s always a surprise team in the NFL, that's for sure. But the only certainty I have this year is that that team won’t be my Buffalo Bills. Here’s how I think the season will play out.
The drive out to South Routt on Wednesday to watch the Soroco High School football team practice proved the point that outside perceptions of programs generally don’t mean much. Many think it could be a tough year for football programs in Routt County. Along those lines, all three teams have a lot of questions to answer.
In Colorado, lacrosse in Steamboat is behind lacrosse on the Front Range. But judging from the inaugural Steamboat Lacrosse Camp, there are equally as many factors that point to Steamboat becoming a lacrosse hub in the West.
When Freestyle America founder Nick Preston talked about remembering Hannah Kearney as a 9-year-old with freckles and pigtails, it wasn’t hard to see that not a ton has changed in Kearney as she prepared to water ramp at Bald Eagle Lake on Thursday.
This is the beginning of the stretch run and the Colorado Rockies have done everything the team can to not look like a playoff team. They’re still in it, but teetering close to the edge of Rocktoberless baseball.
It’s been talked about to no end. Baseball in mountain communities such as Steamboat Springs, Vail and Summit County presents unique challenges. The winters are long, the summers are short, and there are a vast number of other things to do.
Nobody has captured the sports world like LeBron James. He’s the biggest free agent in NBA history, and his choice apparently will change the course of the NBA for the next five to 10 years. You can’t watch any sports without knowing what LeBron is up to.
For the average soccer fan, the World Cup introduced the sport to so many. It was fun — yikes, “fun” and “soccer-watching” in the same sentence. And overall in the United States, the World Cup has to be viewed as a success for soccer in a country where lots of people don’t watch the sport.
We’re on the brink of sports purgatory. It’s the time of year when the NBA and NHL seasons have wrapped up. In baseball, we’re not quite at the season’s midpoint and a ton of teams are still in it. It’s at this point every year that I am reminded of some of the things I hate about sports.
Remembering the Colorado-Nebraska rivalry
It seems the general consensus among University of Colorado fans is the move to the Pac-10 Conference is a good one. But if there is one general area that people will miss, it’s the annual football game against the University of Nebraska. Some in Big Red might still say it’s not a rivalry, but it is.
There was a little letdown when the announcement came last week that Steamboat Springs High School football coach Aaron Finch was stepping down after six years. I’ve been here through four of those years. We didn’t start off too well. But we worked it out, and he rapidly became one of my favorite coaches.
Baseball is a stat geek’s dream. It’s the perfect fit for over-thinkers whose minds never quit. There are endless scenarios, endless numbers, endless statistics and endless amounts of second-guessing. I’ve always loved the statistical side of anything. I still read box scores daily.
It’s tough to compare one year of high school sports with others, but in terms of pure success, it’s hard to argue with the accolades earned by Routt County high school athletics in 2009-10. Here are five games that stick out.
It’s tough to equate the true value of high school sports. But school districts across the country are being forced to do just that. Budget concerns for high school sports aren’t just in Steamboat Springs. As education dollars shrink statewide, sports inevitably are going to start to feel the pinch.
If there is one thing to be said about Steamboat Springs High School lacrosse, it’s that the program has grown and improved every year. On the surface, losing in the first round in each of the past two seasons — Steamboat’s first two ventures into the state playoffs — might suggest the program didn’t improve much. But this year's loss was much different.
There was a lot of excitement surrounding the Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse program last season. After years and years of climbing its way up to respectability, the Sailors team finally earned a shot at the postseason. Now, the Sailors have their sights set higher, and that's a sign of the program's maturation.
In baseball, maybe more so than any other sport, repetitions mean everything. It’s a reason why the Steamboat Springs High School baseball team often struggles. It’s easy for me to relate. I grew up in Leadville, attended Lake County High School and played four years of baseball.
Baseball is the girl you want to bring home to mom. One hundred and sixty-two games of love. It starts in March, just as the seasons swing from cold weather and snow to flowers blooming and sun shining. It ends in October, after roughly eight months of ups and downs fit for any relationship.
Maybe the best thing about NCAA basketball tournaments is that every one of you has a chance to pick the winners. It’s been said time and again that any person, including children, can win a bracket. To prove this, I challenged Rebecca Dybas’ Soda Creek Elementary School third-grade class to a bracket challenge.
The dawn of the NCAA basketball tournament always symbolizes the start of spring and warm weather. The tournament might be one of America’s top five sporting events. Tight games, upsets, Cinderella runs and the 5 vs. 12 games are all things we love in the first week.
People throw around the phrase “Olympic spirit” all too often. What’s it even mean? It’s a phrase people throw out when they can’t really describe the scene at the Olympics. The host city of Vancouver is culturally rich and full of diversity. It’s hopping, and there may have been 200,000 people in downtown Vancouver on Sunday.
Cody Miles won’t be the last athlete from Soroco High School to earn a college scholarship. There’s been a cultural shift at Soroco. Teams matter again. Games matter again. Most importantly, sports matter again. By signing his letter of intent to play football at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Miles showed just how far the Rams and sports at Soroco have come.
Walking out to Blair and Michelle McNamara’s house Thursday afternoon to see their homemade rink brought back why I love the game of hockey. There’s something about outdoor rinks. There’s something about playing hockey outside. While I was growing up in Leadville, at least three times a week we’d venture down to the local skating rink.
There are a lot of things that make sports great. But maybe the best thing, and it doesn’t matter what sport it is, is parity. Games are more fun to cover, watch and play when the competition is evenly matched. So it’s been refreshing this season to watch what’s happening with basketball in the Western Slope League. Finally, there’s a little parity.
Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball coach John Ameen joked that the weekend took years off his life. The Sailors won two games, both by the score of 45-44. On Friday, a late three-pointer by Hannah Moore made the difference against Delta. On Saturday, pure hustle by senior Emi Birch downed Palisade.
It had to have been a bottomless feeling for Jeremy Cota. He was leading the 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials in Steamboat Springs, seeing skier after skier unable to nudge him out of the one guaranteed Olympic spot. Then, world champion Pat Deneen, the last skier to go, put down a phenomenal run. As judges tallied up the scores, it was close, and Deneen’s score just bested Cota.
Watching the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials on NBC on Saturday, it was hard to imagine a better marketing tool for Steamboat Springs. The shots were amazing, the competition was spectacular, and Steamboat emerged with the marketing equivalent of a gold medal.
It’s hard not to argue that the two most impressive teams in the early parts of the winter high school season were the Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball team and boys hockey team.
What a week for Sailors football, but what tough times for the University of Colorado Buffs. Here are some notes on Steamboat's upcoming game with Windsor in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs and the state of college football in Colorado.
I’ve covered a lot of Steamboat Springs High School football. I’ve seen a lot of good athletes and a lot of good teams, and I’ve always seen the year come up just a little bit short. This team has the ability to go deep into the playoffs. They won’t say it, but I will. This team has everything it takes to win a state championship.
The Steamboat Springs High School football team is dangerous. Offensively, there might not be a match in Class 3A, where they arguably have a trio of top-of-the-class players: the best quarterback in Austin Hinder, the best running back in Joe Dover and the best wide receiver in Jack Spady.
A look ahead to the postseason
With regular seasons coming to a close this fall, here's a look at Steamboat Springs High School's postseason chances in football, soccer, volleyball and cross-country, along with a glimpse of playoff possibilities for the Hayden and Soroco volleyball teams.
This is Soroco's red-letter game. It's the one Rams players, coaches and fans circled, highlighted and looked at prior to the season. Come Friday at 7 p.m., the 7-0 Soroco football team will meet the 7-0 Norwood team at Soroco High School.
Most fall prep teams have reached the halfway point of their seasons, and it's safe to assume the direction of each squad.
Golf, in its purest form, might be the most character-defining sport. It's a gentlemen's game where players are expected to keep their own score, not cheat and make sure their playing partners don't cheat.
The NFL season begins Thursday, which can mean only one thing: It's time for my incredibly popular NFL picks column. Truth is, people don't read my picks column for forecast accuracy. In fact, I'm usually just pitifully wrong. A new season brings new hope, and here's how I see the NFL season shaking out.
Jack Spady used to have to wait for something good to happen. Now, the Steamboat Springs High School senior doesn't wait for anything. He takes his 6-foot-3 frame and makes things happen. The change was evident during Steamboat's 41-21 win against Holy Family on Saturday.
Fall sports are back and in full swing. With one week of practices down, local prep coaches already have a better idea of how their respective teams will fare. They also know which players will key the success of their teams.
Will Laughlin is all about the story. And when Laughlin writes a story or is part of a story, the last thing he wants it to be is boring.
The fall sports season can't get here quickly enough. The doldrums of summer are great, but it's the prep action that is the best.
Although Colorado isn't a hotbed for college football recruiters and usually sends only a few players to Division I programs across the nation, it's hard not to like what is going on right here in Steamboat Springs.
There's a lot to like about action sports. The once second-tiered sports world of the X Games, Dew Tour - and anything else that involves a little bit of lunacy - has come a long way in the past 15 to 20 years.
We're sort of in a sports purgatory right now. With Major League Baseball's All-Star festivities wrapping up, baseball is about the only sport in full swing at the moment.
It's the midway point of the Major League Baseball season, and several things have become apparent. Sports reporter and columnist Luke Graham breaks it down.
Holly McPeak insists she is not still trying to put the game of professional beach volleyball on her back. The volleyball legend said Wednesday that, since her retirement earlier this year, she no longer feels the need to campaign for the sport to grow. She is, however, helping 2003 Steamboat Springs High School graduate Katie Carter.
The spring stats read "one reception for 1 yard," but for Jay Hanley, that little blurb meant a lot more. The 2008 Steamboat Springs High School graduate has had a trying and tiresome nine months at Kansas State University.
It's hard not to like Colleen King's game. I witnessed it first hand last fall while covering volleyball. As a setter, she had everyone fooled - including me.
It has been talked about over and over again how lacrosse is growing rapidly at the local, regional and state levels. And for good reason. For years, Steamboat Springs lacrosse programs seemed destined to be years behind their peers on the Front Range.
Choosing the Routt County High School Athletes of the Year is never as easy as I'd like it to be. It's certainly not hard to come up with a list of worthy local athletes. But choosing just one can be a tedious venture.
Although the prep season has wrapped up, it's hard not to look at the 2008-09 year and think about some of the accomplishments. It gave us great performances from Hayden, Steamboat and Soroco athletes and teams. Several athletes won state titles, including Kylee Swiggart and Sara Bearss in tennis and Cole Worsley in swimming.
Nobody would have blamed Soroco High School senior Tatum Lombardi if she had stayed home during Friday and Saturday's regional track meet in Grand Junction.
It wasn't hard to find reasons last season why the Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer team finished second in the Western Slope League. The team had given up its crown and perch at the top to Battle Mountain the season before. Steamboat came into the season with a young team and had only two seniors on the roster.
Hayden High School senior Holli Salazar likes to play coy when the mention of back-to-back state shot put titles come up. Initially, she won't admit she's the favorite in Class 2A. She'll talk about how everybody else has improved and works just as hard as she does.
As soon as it became official that the Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse team would make the playoffs for the first time in school history, attention instantly turned to whom, where and when the team would play.
Andy Caress always has had an unquenchable thirst and love for everything that surrounds life. So even as the Steamboat Springs tennis pro and former Coastal Carolina tennis star treks through the toughest part of his 23 years on this Earth, he's still smiling.
Barry Every has been around college football recruiting for almost as long as highly touted Steamboat Springs High School quarterback Austin Hinder has been alive. Every spent 13 years working at North Carolina, Florida State and Georgia. Now, he's a national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com.
There are a lot of reasons I couldn't be a coach, many of which center on the simple fact that I don't know as much about sports as I think I do. I couldn't install an offense in football, a defense in basketball or either in lacrosse.
Ridiculousness comes from everywhere in the sporting world. It comes in all forms. From ESPN to Sports Illustrated and even from my fingertips to your eyes.
Three years ago, I wrote about Steamboat Springs High School girls basketball coach John Ameen, the girls on his team and how they were headed in the right direction.
A co-worker the other day asked me how I was going to explain myself. To be honest, there really is no way to defend my pre-season pick for the Detroit Lions to go 11-5 and make the playoffs.
Anyone who was worried the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team would take a step back this year might have missed out on the past weekend.
As sports fans, we all want a lot out of the new year. Some of it's realistic, such as Tiger Woods coming back healthy, and some of it's totally farfetched.
In honor of the new year, here's a look at my picks for the top 10 sports stories and events in Routt County in 2008. No. 10: Soroco's Justin Iacovetto and Dennis Morgan finished as runners-up at the Colorado Wrestling State Championships.
The winter prep sports season might be the most interesting one of the three seasons. Essentially, it's broken down into two parts - the pre-holidays season and the "real" season after the New Year.
The Steamboat Springs High School hockey team shouldn't get ahead of itself. Although winning the King of the Mountain Tournament is quite a statement, it's easy to forget it's only the first three games of the year.
The winter sports season is upon us, and every local team, at this juncture, thinks it has a chance to be good.
Bo Randolph is one tough guy to root against. He is your average, everyday guy who works for a living, struggles to make ends meet and just happens to be a phenomenal freestyle moguls skier.
Week 11 of the NFL season provides the sobering opportunity for me to confess the poor quality of my preseason predictions.
As much as it pains people to say it, the Bowl Championship Series does its job in college football.
Friday's game between Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs is the reason high school sports are played.
The Steamboat Springs High School football team has won its past two games by a score of 105 to - gasp! - 26.
Playing at home is nice, but it's especially nice when you're the Steamboat Springs High School tennis team.
The beginning of another year of prep sports is upon us, and it's a good time to be a sports reporter in Routt County. Although the area teams tend to be the biggest story, each school has athletes who are definitely worth watching.
Acouple weeks back, when it became clear Kelly Meek was going to retire as head basketball coach at Steamboat Springs High School, it also became clear who Meek wanted to take the position.
Boy, it has to be good to be from Boston right now. Even if the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl, having the Red Sox - my vote for the best team in baseball - and the Celtics play as well as they have helps soften the blow a little. It's really an unprecedented run for a city.
No school travels to track and field meets like Soroco. Friday and Saturday at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction, there may not have been a more visible and loud presence than the fans from South Routt.
It was a common conversation that spoke to a point. Earlier this year, after a Steamboat vs. Summit lacrosse game, I was searching for the Summit head coach. I ended up talking to one of Summit's assistant coaches for at least 20 minutes.
Earlier this month, the governing board for high school athletics approved a new track and field format set to start next year.
I'll admit I haven't watched much of the NBA this year, so I'm probably one of the least qualified people to prognosticate who will host the trophy.
There's a reason they call it the American Pastime.
At the Steamboat Springs boys basketball banquet Tuesday evening, there was a little back and forth between longtime Pilot & Today reporter Tom Ross and Sailors coach Kelly Meek.
Last year included probably the most exciting baseball season of my life.
Although it lasted only four minutes, the tribute at the beginning of the Steamboat Springs-Battle Mountain girls soccer game Saturday will have a lasting effect.
There were so many things that defined the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team this year.
The rise of Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is nothing short of unbelievable.
As Michael Vandahl poured in point after point against Moffat County earlier this year, the full spectrum of his game was on display.
After the Steamboat Springs boys basketball team dismantled Rifle, 74-50, on Friday night, one of the game's referees succinctly summed up the state of the Sailors.
Admittedly, I have no one to root for in the Super Bowl. I could certainly make a case for whom I don't want to win, but part of watching the Super Bowl is always rooting for one team.
Every time you talk football with Bob Harris, the veteran coach admits he is leaning toward coming back for year No. 44.
Success is a byproduct of dedication. Maybe nobody knows this better than Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball player Colby Kostur.
When the athletic careers of Hayden High School senior Jordan Williams and Steamboat Springs High School senior Houston Mader hit a speed bump, they simply slowed down and absorbed it.
Kelly Meek's basketball teams have been the definition of success.