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Vidakovich column: A thousand words about a picture

It was by nothing short of good fortune that I stumbled across this old Glenwood Post photograph of my 1975 eighth-grade championship basketball team at Glenwood Junior High School. Rummaging through a closet filled with boxes of old newspaper clippings and interesting tidbits from olden days, this group of boys, filled with the beauty of being young, appeared front and center before me, almost as if by magic.

With sweaty brows and varied looks on our faces that range from happiness, to bewilderment, to possible disinterest, we pose with our two mentors, displaying the trophy that signified us as the kings of the junior high court.

As I looked at the photograph more closely, and remembered fondly the faces staring back at me, I realized that many of these boys came from families that had more than just a little impact in shaping the past of Glenwood Springs. From Mid-Continent coal miners, to school principals and influential business owners, newspaper pioneers, and the local pharmacist, this group and their parents have contributed to our local lore in many more ways than just the venue of sports.

Coach Al Kimbrough is the gentleman posing on the left side of the team photo. The original "Coach K," Kimbrough served as the seventh-grade coach and English teacher. Coach K always referred to us as "Sevies," since we were the underlings of the junior high. To this day, I remember the first class with Kimbrough in my seventh-grade year. He started his initiation speech by telling us we "weren't in our three-cornered tuxedos anymore," speaking to the fact that we were not in grade-school diapers anymore, and we had now hit the big time.

Do you recognize No. 30 in the front row? That’s renowned local artist Dean Bowlby. Yes, Dean was once a skinny kid, and one of the nicest — and most talented — people you will ever meet.

Harlan Spencer, on the right hand side of the picture, was our PE teacher and eighth-grade coach. Spence, as we all affectionately referred to him, was always easy going and kind to everyone. He taught us the game, and set the expectation for us to play fairly, work hard and act like gentlemen at all times. Looking back, I sincerely believe we tried our best to make both of these great men proud of us.

That's me, lucky No. 13 standing next to Spence. I was fortunate to get to be a small part of a great group of athletes, and individuals, growing up here in Glenwood. We won at most every sport we were involved in, but as the years have proven, this group has been even more successful at the game of life.

The two stars in the front row, No. 21 Scott Bolitho and No. 22 Kevin Flohr, got to hold the trophy, and deservedly so. Bolitho and Flohr were a pretty tough tandem to deal with for any eighth-grade team. I'm just glad they were on mine. Bolitho is the owner of the Glenwood Insurance Agency, and Flohr manages our local City Market.

No. 25 in the front row, looking pretty serious, but without a trace of dripping sweat because I doubt he got much playing time, is Chris Massaro. Massaro's forte was football, but he sure got a kick out of shoving us around on the hardwood in practice. Many of you may remember Massaro's father, Nick, who was a principal at Glenwood High School and served as superintendent of Re-1 schools for many years. Chris is now a star in the collegiate world as the athletics director at Middle Tennessee State University.

Do you recognize No. 30 in the front row? That's renowned local artist Dean Bowlby. Yes, Dean was once a skinny kid, and one of the nicest — and most talented — people you will ever meet. I got to teach with Dean at Glenwood and Sopris Elementary for many years. The kids loved him, and it was always easy to see why.

In the back row, standing next to Coach K, are Rick Eccher, Jim Brockway, Glenn Samuelson and Mark Zacharisen. Eccher is still one of my best friends, not to mention a great high school and college basketball player and now a successful businessman in Grand Junction. Brockway is a master electrician in the Fort Collins area. Brockway's parents owned and operated Brockway's Home Furnishings store, which was a staple on Grand Avenue during my childhood. As many of you know, Samuelson's parents, John and Angie, were owners and operators of the Glenwood Post for decades here in our town. Glenn now works as a golf course superintendent in the Colorado Springs area. Zacharisen's father, "Mr. Zach," was a teacher and principal at Glenwood Elementary School.

No. 23 in the front row is Brett Morrison, whose father George owned and operated the Dotsero Block Plant. Like most of us, Morrison was raised here in Glenwood and got to be a part of the many blessings that growing up in a close-knit, small town bestowed on us all. No. 14 is Karl Ahlswede. His dad ran Ahlswede's Pharmacy in town. Some of you might remember Lanning Motors in Glenwood. No. 24 is Jack Lanning. Like Ahlswede, Lanning and his parents moved away when we were in high school. Since I'm not a Facebooker or on any of the social media outlets, I have lost track of them both, and their whereabouts.

This group of young men, and the entire class of 1979, went on to capture state championships in football and basketball during their senior year. It's always fun to remember how good we were in sports, but it took getting older for me to realize that this group did not just win, they are true winners.

So I guess it's only appropriate for me to finish with this statement.

Hail the champs!

Mike Vidakovich writes freelance for the Post Independent.