John F. Russell: Don’t stop dreaming | SteamboatToday.com

John F. Russell: Don’t stop dreaming

I love dreamers.

They drive us to seek the treasures of everyday life, they give us a reason to believe in the unbelievable, and they inspire us all to reach our personal goals.

There is no place on earth where this is more evident than inside the ranks of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. It’s a place where kids learn to ski or ride and discover Olympic dreams really do come true.

Some kids will become stars in their chosen sports, but many others ultimately will realize their dreams – at least on skis or a snowboard – are unattainable.

But we can’t judge these athletes based on whether they succeeded or failed to reach the Olympics. Sometimes dreams can change, and sometimes it’s simply not possible to live them.

When I was in middle school, I dreamed of playing the saxophone. Inspired by the smooth sounds of Junior Walker – the guy who ripped that awesome solo in the Foreigner song “Urgent” – there were times when I would imagine myself on stage in front of thousands of cheering fans.

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I spent hours practicing, but in the end, I had only a couple of true fans – and my parents rarely screamed when I was playing (unless they wanted me to stop).

The truth is all those hours of practice made me pretty good, and I did play several concerts in middle school. But I soon realized that Foreigner wasn’t going to call me the next time it recorded an album.

By the time I reached high school, my passion had shifted to a new dream – photography. That dream led me to journalism and eventually to Steamboat Springs.

The downside is I don’t have dozens of blonde groupies following me around asking for autographs, but following this dream led me to a wife who loves me (most of the time) and two adorable children.

Every winter, young athletes in Steamboat Springs are confronted with tough choices. Should they continue to follow their Olympic dreams after high school, or should they trade it in for a college education?

There’s no right answer.

In the past decade, I’ve watched athletes grapple with the pressures of growing up in Ski Town USA, and I’ve also come to understand it’s not always easy growing up in the shadows of legends.

In most cases, these athletes must grapple with the pursuit of their dreams and the real world.

Wouldn’t it be great if all our dreams came true? I haven’t touched my sax since high school, but I’ll admit there are times when I still dream of playing in a raging band at a sold-out show.

Of course, I know that dream will not come true, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t stop trying. Without dreamers, this would be a pretty bland world, and Steamboat Springs would be a pretty boring place to live.

That’s why I hope all those kids on skis and snowboards keep dreaming. After all, the next Winter Olympic Games are just around the corner.