Vidakovich column: Coach Bob and Shirley Chavez to be honored this month
When I was a little boy at Glenwood Springs Elementary School, one of my fondest memories was of that wonderful old gymnasium with its balcony, stage and cathedral windows, and of our PE teacher pacing up and down the gym sidelines on Friday afternoons in anticipation of coaching his high school Demon basketball players in a big game that evening.
He seemed lost in a world of thought and strategy as he put us through our calisthenics and the game of the day, with maybe even a little square dancing thrown in for good measure.
Bob Chavez was my teacher’s name, and as many of you are aware, he is much more well-known around these parts for his 30-year tenure leading the highly successful Glenwood basketball program than for instructing us little ones on how to do a do-si-do or a promenade.
Not only did I have the good fortune to get to play for Coach Chavez in high school, but living just down the street from the Chavez family allowed me to spend many days of my youth with his kids, Rick, Mike, Rob, Shelley and his wife, Shirley. I spent countless hours shooting at the basket in front of the Chavez family home on Palmer Avenue, trying to impress the man who would someday be my coach.
He’s still my coach and always will be.
Bob and Shirley moved to Glenwood in August 1958 after Bob had accepted a fifth-grade teaching job at Glenwood Elementary and the freshman basketball coaching position at Glenwood High. The two met at Western State College and were married in December 1956. Bob was a graduate of Trinidad Catholic High School, and Shirley was the 1955 salutatorian of her class at Holly High School. Bob lettered in football, basketball and track at Pueblo Junior College and in track at Western State.
Bob’s days as a freshman coach didn’t last long. He took over the Glenwood varsity basketball program in 1959 after Bob Daniels had stepped down, and what was to follow was the building of one of the most successful basketball coaching runs in Colorado schoolboy history.
Following his remarkable stint on the Demon sidelines, Bob Chavez retired as the winningest coach in Colorado history, compiling a record of 477 wins and 161 losses. His teams won 15 Northwestern League championships and made 19 appearances at the state tournament, highlighted by state championships in 1975, 1979 and 1984. Making things extra sweet, the ’75 team was led by his son, Rob, who would follow in his father’s footsteps and go on to be a coach at the collegiate level. Coach Chavez helped produce countless all-state players and was inducted into the Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame in 2002.
Shirley, a successful business person at Stewart Title in Glenwood and with her own company, Mineral Land Services, was never far from her husband’s side. Shirley hardly ever missed a game up until the time her son Rick graduated. She still made it to the home games after that, but left the long trips to Craig, Rangely, Meeker and Steamboat to her coaching spouse.
Bob and Shirley now reside for most of the year in Mesa, Arizona, but spend a good portion of the summer in Glenwood to be near family and friends.
In case you hadn’t heard, there is a celebration of the many contributions that Bob and Shirley Chavez have made to the Glenwood community and its children, planned for the night of June 17, from 5-8 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the Hotel Colorado. The event has been put together by former Demons Albert Blanc and Scott Balcomb.
Everyone who has ever shared in the lives of Coach and Shirley is invited to attend. The evening will start with a meet and greet, followed by former Demon players and friends sharing memories of their association with the Chavez family.
The town of Glenwood was very lucky to have the likes of Bob Chavez, Harlan Spencer, Don Miller and Nick Stubler being teachers and role models for its children. We all have the opportunity to pay tribute to one of them on the night of the 17th. Mark it on your calendar, and come share in the memories.
Glenwood Springs native Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer, teacher and youth sports coach. His column appears on occasion in the Post Independent and at PostIndependent.com.
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