A stroll down memory lane | PostIndependent.com

A stroll down memory lane

Mike Vidakovich
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Mike Vidakovich

In just one day, I had many unexpected happenings come to me and tap me on the shoulder. They all put a smile on my face that was as long as a summer day and every bit as bright.

In just one day, I picked up the morning newspaper and was catapulted back in time when I saw the name of a sportswriter for The Aspen Times who just happened to be my little league baseball coach here in Glenwood back when I was a pup.

Dale Strode. I blinked at the name on the byline.

Dale is back as the sports editor of The Aspen Times. He coached us all, and coached us well in the days of the Glenwood Old Timers Youth Baseball Association. He instructed us in the fundamentals of the game with an emphasis on the word fun.

Talk about thoughts of an endless summer. How could I not smile at the memory?

I still remember the article Dale wrote for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel after the Glenwood basketball team of 1979 had captured the state AA championship with a win over Denver Christian’s Crusaders. It was titled “The Park; Key to Demons Basketball Success.” The story spoke of every member of that team and the relationship they had with pick-up basketball at Strawberry (Sayre) Park. Being a former Demon himself, Strode knew the hoops importance of the asphalt slab just off Grand Avenue.

I’m glad Dale is back in the area.

In just one day, following my newspaper perusing and too much coffee, I bumped into my favorite librarian, Jaci Spuhler at City Market. Spuhler always came to color Ukrainian Easter Eggs with my classes at Glenwood Elementary. Her daughter, Jessica, was a Lady Demon basketballer a little over a decade ago. Jaci’s not aging any, and I know she is still a magician with those eggs.

I also saw a well-dressed, stately looking gentleman at the checkout stand a few moments later. It was Pat Riley, not the general manager of the Miami Heat, but another one of my little league baseball coaches. I was beginning to think I should oil up the glove and put my cleats on. He looked like he could still coach a bit.

Riley lives here in Glenwood with his wife, but I don’t see him as often as I would like.

I’m convinced that the grocery store is the place to go for good company and conversation. It’s a great place for a chocolate-filled long john, also.

In just one day, figuring my stroll down memory lane was complete, up popped a familiar face on the evening news. The story featured a very large man who is a school crossing guard in his native Maryland.

I recognized Adrian Dantley immediately. Dantley is a former NBA player and assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets. Most importantly, he was an All-American basketball player at Notre Dame.

That summer-day-smile got bigger when I thought back on the Denver Channel 2 broadcasts of Notre Dame basketball in the mid 1970s. The announcers were Chick Hearn and Dick Gonski. They always introduced Dantley as “Everyone’s All-American.”

Dantley was a freshman on the Irish team in 1974 that halted UCLA’s 88-game winning streak in South Bend. The Irish wore yellow uniforms with green shamrocks that day. Yellow socks and green shoes completed the wardrobe that left the Bruins from the coast seeing red.

Dantley is now enjoying being home and giving back to the community where he was a star at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md.

Immediately following the Dantley story, a sports clip showed North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano running around the court in disbelief, looking for someone to hug as the buzzer sounded on his team’s improbable 54-52 victory over the heavily favored Houston Cougars in the 1983 NCAA championship game in Albuquerque, N.M. It was a game that will live forever in history, as will Valvano and his inspirational battle with cancer. Could 30 years really have passed since I watched that game from my college apartment in Greeley?

I started to wonder what nostalgic thing could possibly happen next, but nothing did, so I hit the sack with a smile.

All of these good things in just one day. Mostly memories, but that’s OK.

Mike Vidakovich writes freelance for the Post Independent.

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