A couple committed to coaching
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
As the Glenwood Springs Demons football team gets ready to play in the first round of the state playoffs tomorrow, it would be hard to find a couple more committed to the Demons than the Golubas.
Neil and Lynn Goluba have a lot riding on this weekend. Neil, the defensive coordinator, wants a win in the first round of the playoffs to get the Demons positioned for another state championship – to add to the one they claimed two years ago, the first Demon state championship since 1980. Lynn, a Glenwood cheerleading coach for the past 14 years, knows her squad has to be at the game to support their team, but, the cheerleaders also have to get to Denver that same day to compete in the Colorado Mile High Regionals – if they want the opportunity to attend cheerleading nationals.
While chaotic, this schedule is really nothing new to the Golubas, who have wrestled with similar schedules the two previous years, when the state football playoffs fell on the same day as the Universal Cheerleading Association’s regional qualifier. It’s just another day in the life of the Goluba coaches.
“More than anything, the Golubas bring a wonderful model of being committed,” said Craig Denney, the Glenwood Springs High School athletic director. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen them passing their kids off on the practice field. It’s an amazing thing.”
Lynn grew up in Grand Junction and attended Palisade High School where she played varsity basketball and ran track. Senior year, she was the state champion in both the long jump and triple jump. A track scholarship took her to Western State College of Colorado where she continued her track career and played on the volleyball team. It was her track coach at Western State, Duane Vandenbush, whom she credits with teaching her how to coach.
“Hard work and discipline, along with respect for your teammates,” Lynn said about Vandenbush. “The things we learned in athletics could never be taught in a classroom.”
Lynn Goluba started her coaching career with the Glenwood Springs Middle School track team in 1994. Soon after, she began coaching the high school volleyball team. In 1997, she took the job as the high school PE/health teacher, as well as the high school track team coach. It wasn’t long after that when a friend of hers, Jody Jordan, asked her to come on as one of three cheerleading coaches.
While Lynn had never been a cheerleader, she had a gymnastics background that Jordan thought could help the team. Jordan, along with Goluba and Kim Richardson, began building up the cheerleading program. For four years in a row, the Demons squad took fourth place at the Colorado Spirit Championship. Then the hard work paid off, and the next three years the squad won first-place trophies.
The team also started qualifying for nationals, which means competing at Walt Disney World. While the Glenwood cheerleaders never won nationals, one year they just missed making it to the finals. Lynn said that’s a big deal when you’re competing against southern states where girls start cheerleading when they’re 3. Most of the girls on the Demons squad start cheering in ninth grade.
“Cheerleading is just now getting big in Colorado,” Goluba said.
On a typical day, when Lynn is inside the gym working with the 19 cheerleaders, her husband, Neil, is outside working with the Demon football players. Neil grew up in Glenwood Springs and played defensive end and offensive guard for the team he now coaches. During his senior year, he was the team MVP, and made the All-Conference and All-State teams. He also played baseball for the Demons, where he was team captain and made the All-Conference team.
Neil went to Colorado College where he played four years as defensive end, never once missing a game during his entire college career. He went on to attend law school at Denver University and now practices real estate and contract law with his father at Goluba and Goluba.
Neil started coaching for the Demons in 1998. He took a two-year break after he and Lynn got married and their first daughter, Reese, was born. He more than makes up for that time off the field now, as he typically spends about 30 hours a week working as a coach for the Demons.
“Football gave me a lot, and I want to give that back,” Neil said. “You learn to play as a team and work with others on a common goal. Those are things that stay with you your whole life. You just never forget.”
Nick Ciani, who plays offensive tackle and linebacker for the Demons, couldn’t say enough about Coach Goluba.
“He’s a great coach,” Ciani said. “Everyone he coaches values his teaching. He’s really intense and puts everything into it.”
Ciani continued to point out that both Coach Golubas have a reputation or what he called a “claim to fame.”
“You don’t mess around with the Golubas,” Ciani said. “You do the right thing.”
Michelle Whiddon, one of Lynn’s former cheerleaders, agreed.
“[Lynn] is kind, but hard at the same time, which led us to succeed,” Whiddon said. “The harder you work, the higher you get on the podium.”
After cheering for Lynn her junior and senior years, Whiddon went on to a junior college in Kansas where her team took second place at the Universal Cheerleading Association Nationals in Florida two years in a row. She now teaches gymnastics to the Golubas’ daughter Reese.
In addition to Reese, who is now 7, the Golubas have a 5-year-old daughter, Rilyn. If you ask Rilyn what she likes about football and cheerleading, she says it’s the color of the teams’ uniforms.
Her older sister had a little more to say.
“I have good baby sitters,” Reese said referring to the cheerleaders who help her mom out.
The girls do spend a lot of time at the field and in the high school gymnasium. But both Golubas took breaks in their careers to make sure parenting was their number one priority. Lynn gave up her teaching position shortly after Rilyn was born and instead taught fitness classes at both the Hot Springs Athletic Club and the Community Center. She recently cut back her cheerleading responsibilities to about 12 hours a week so she can be more available to her daughters.
“When we decided to have kids, we said the coaching would end if it affected our home life,” Lynn said.
The way they manage their home life is one of the things the Demons athletic director most admires about the couple.
“They have found a great niche for each of them” Denney said. “They work together to make it work for both of them.”
And it works for the teenagers they coach as well. Both Golubas are tough on the high-school kids. They feel strongly about their athletes maintaining good grades. Lynn and the other cheerleading coaches annually require each squad member to sign a 3-page contract that spells out everything expected of them, including a recently added part about coaches randomly monitoring Facebook pages. Any obscene or inappropriate material on this site is grounds for dismissal.
“It’s really hard being a teenager these days,” Lynn said. “They have a lot on their plates.”
Both Lynn and Neil can point to players and squad members for whom football or cheerleading kept them from dropping out of school.
Neil refers to his players as “his boys,” and he likes the fact that this small town provides a unique opportunity for him.
“You know the kids and their parents,” Neil said. “I’m coaching kids of people I went to school with. It’s fun to have that kind of connection to the community.”
It’s a connection that is continuing with his players. Ciani said when the team makes it to the playoffs, you can just feel the excitement for the Demons.
“This community is great,” Ciani said. “We’re glad to represent the adults who wish they could be out there strapping up with us on Saturday. I love this game. It means the world to me.”
And, ultimately, that’s what the Golubas set out to do. Both coaches coach because they love what athletics did for them. Now they’re hoping their football players and cheerleaders will reap those same benefits.
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