Lot No. 14
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
It was on a cloudy September afternoon that I found myself wandering along an overgrown trail at the base of Storm King Mountain. A spirit-lifting hike with my thoughts and my sister’s dog had been on the agenda since early in the day when the gray cloud gloominess had invaded my mood and refused to make an exit.
Dodging rocks, branches, and those sticky things that always find their way into your shoes and socks, I headed west on the trail until I came upon Ami’s Acres campground and spotted the owner – my good buddy – Craig Amichaux.
After exchanging pleasantries and the usual sports banter, I asked Amichaux if the seasonal occupants of Lot No. 14 were still around, or had they ventured back Arizona way?
Still in residence, I was told, so I tromped back over the mountain to deposit the dog in the backyard, cleaned myself up a bit, and drove back to the campground with the destination being Lot No. 14.
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A knock on the trailer door produced a stately-looking, gray-haired gentleman who always seems to be genuinely glad at my arrival. A quick invitation in was followed by the traditional hug, an offer of a cold beer and a seat on the most comfortable trailer couch known to mankind.
We immersed ourselves in catching up on each other’s lives, and retelling the worn-out sports stories of the past that still produce smiles and laughs in abundance and even a few tears on occasion.
The other resident of Lot No. 14, the man’s better half, has been there since my entrance, seated in the easy chair, asking, as she always does, if I am comfortable, if I need anything, and smiling right along with us at the people and memories that played such a big role in her life also. She always gives me a big hug, too.
Bob and Shirley Chavez now reside in Mesa, Ariz., for much of the year, but from late June through mid-September each year, they drop anchor in Lot No. 14.
It must seem strange for these two people, who are both in their late 70s, living in a campground for the summer season, when their home of more than 40 years is just a short drive into town.
The anonymity of Lot No. 14 is in stark contrast to the fact that Bob and Shirley are known by most everyone in Glenwood. Well, those who have been around for a while, anyway.
I call Bob “Chav” or Coach, as do several hundred other men – boys then – who played basketball for him at Glenwood Springs High School, or who were lucky enough to be in his physical education classes at Glenwood Springs Elementary School.
At one time, Coach Chav was the all-time Colorado leader in basketball coaching victories. His teams played hard and they always played fast. The game he taught us was fun. He made it that way.
Shirley was there through every bounce of the ball, every tough loss and every long road trip to Craig on a freezing January Saturday night. She remembers the games and the players like they were just a hop, skip and a jump from yesterday.
Shirley experienced the highs and lows of 30 years of her husband coaching, her three sons playing, and endured the comments and the watchful eyes of the experts that populate the stands at high school sporting events. Shirley should be inducted into the Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame along with Bob.
I always thank Coach for putting up with all of us in high school, even though I know it was his passion and he loved every minute of coaching his beloved Demon boys. He treated us like sons.
Bob Chavez guided along all the diverse personalities he coached in his enthusiastic and excitable way. He always gave us a winning game plan, a blueprint for success and then let us discover our own way on the basketball court and in life. I can never thank him enough.
I was fortunate to be taught about sports in my youth by men like Coach Chav, Harlan Spencer, Nick Stubler and Don Miller, to name a few. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they taught all of us much more than just how to win ball games.
I’ll continue to make my way back to the campground as the days grow long and hotter each summer season. Lot No. 14 contains a treasure than no one can ever put a price on.
Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer for the Post Independent.
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