Vidakovich column: Just think like a 5-year-old

Mike Vidakovich
Mike Vidakovich

Whenever I substitute teach at Glenwood Elementary I always eat my lunch in the school cafeteria with the kids. This was a common practice of mine when I taught full-time, so it was easy for me to continue the always-entertaining routine as a part-timer.

I get especially excited when I see that my lunch time coincides with that of the kindergarten or first grade classes at GSES. It goes without saying that these kids love life and are genuinely excited beyond control at the simplest things, like snow, a Spiderman lunch box, someone else’s Cheetos, or the fact that I will plop down right in the middle of them to enjoy a midday meal.

I used to jokingly tell people that there were three reasons that I became a teacher: June, July and August. I was always quick to add the fact that I couldn’t find more pleasant company anywhere else than at an elementary school. For me, there has never been a statement that was more true.

It’s refreshing to be around the wonder of kindergarten students as they are eating and talking at the same time, and watch a good portion of his or her lunch spill out the side of their mouth. They ask me questions on varied subjects, and when they find out how old I am, they ask with bug eyes and wide open mouths, “Did you get to see the dinosaurs?” Even when I respond that I am not that old, I listen to a rundown of each of their favorite dinosaurs and that they have been studying about the prehistoric creatures in class.

One time, when I told them that I loved filled long johns, a boy looked at me matter-of-factly and said, “My dad weighs about 300 pounds because he eats too many donuts!”

I got to thinking one day following a lunch with the little ones that, if I could just learn to think like them, many of the little things in life that seem to cause worry to us all would not bother me one bit. The bills, car repairs, home maintenance or an aging body would not be given a second thought. I would just focus my energy on morning runs to beautiful places, watching kids play basketball games, enjoying my pets that bring me such joy, all the good friends I have, and of course, my next filled long john!

Thank you, Steve Beattie

I just wanted to thank local attorney and 1964 Glenwood Springs High School graduate Steve Beattie for sharing his 1963 student annual with me at a recent Christmas break gathering.

Beattie was a junior in 1963, and he let me thumb through his copy of the Yampah, which was the name of the Glenwood High yearbook at the time. He pointed out to me, and actually had a bookmark in the basketball section, which chronicled the improbable postseason run of Coach Bob Chavez and his underdog Demon team.

After compiling a respectable 12-6 record, but losing to Rifle three times during the regular season, the Demons pulled a couple of upsets in defeating the Meeker Cowboys in the first round of the league tournament, and then shocking the Rifle Bears in the championship to earn the league’s lone berth to the state tourney in Denver.

Glenwood lost both of its games at state, to Evergreen and then Walsenburg, but the improbable late-season run of another successful team coached by Chavez is worth mentioning.

I had never heard the story of the ’63 team before, and I was not only glad that Steve told me about this special group, but I also got to see the picture of the team in the Yampah and realized that I had known some of these guys most of my life.

Ralph Pretti, Ashton Durrett, Steve Worrell, Scott Balcomb, and Craig Westley are all gentlemen that I have known well through the years. Many of the other names of the players from that team I recognized, but hadn’t gotten to know these men as well as the others. It was also interesting to see that my buddy Loren Mayfield was an all-state football player in ’63, and seeing pictures of old teachers such as Nick Stubler, Fritz Bramble, Chuck Piper, Bert Frink, Nick Massaro, Bob Jones, Corky Lyons, Patsy Guadnola and Cynthia Stapp was refreshing to my memory.

Thanks, Steve, for another enjoyable trip down Demon memory lane. I love past stories of all kinds almost as much as those kindergarten tales. So keep them coming!

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

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