30 years of excitement | PostIndependent.com

30 years of excitement

Mike Vidakovich

The banner that hung over the makeshift stage at Veltus Park in Glenwood Springs was a fitting tribute to the stately looking gentleman who sat beneath it. The words printed in large, bold letters on the front of the sign were brief, but oh so accurate in describing the feelings of everyone who crowded into lawn chairs, or who pulled up a grassy seat on a cool, late summer evening in August.

“Thank You Coach Chavez. 30 Years of Excitement.”

Coach Bob Chavez, who presided over the highly successful reign of Glenwood basketball for 30 years of his life, sat passively, probably the most he has ever sat in his life while surrounded by Demon players, for close to two hours and listened to the admiring voices of the past shower him with goodwill and praise. As the stories of Coach, and his influence on many young lives in this area continued on, everyone in attendance was reminded of something that has always been obvious to those who have been touched by Bob Chavez, that he has been as much of a father figure to young people as he was a basketball coach.

There probably wasn’t a soul in the audience who couldn’t have told an inspirational, or even amusing story about Coach. He was, and still is, the rare kind of human being who can make you smile and laugh, but also motivate you to do your best at all times and never, ever, let him down. We all tried our best. Thanks to him.

The wins that piled up during his tenure at Glenwood High School were too numerous to count. The league, district, and state championships are well documented. Even one of the biggest rivals of Coach and his Demons, Sonny Darien, was there to speak about the man who his teams battled on many an epic winter evening on the hardwood. Everyone was glad to see Coach Darien, and listen to his heartfelt thoughts. It’s funny how time can turn our rivals into friends. Both men are gray and a bit weathered now, but they still look like they could coach some hoops, and treat us all to one more round of Demons vs Rams. Winner take all, just like it used to be.

The speakers that sat on the stage with Coach were all very familiar to those of us who have lived in the area since we were old enough to dream about someday playing for the Red and White. As you can imagine, they are all a bit old now, but the spirit with which everyone spoke, brought back memories of when we could all still run freely, jump high, and bounce that round ball until the setting sun refused to light our way.

Steve Beattie, Doug Laven, Shelley and Rick Chavez, Bill and Scott Bolitho, Jerry Law, Karen Petre, Joyce and Rochelle Spencer, Dennis Pretti, Fred Heisel, Craig Amichaux, and coach Harlan Spencer took turns giving the curious onlookers a reason to smile, laugh, and cry just a little, as the good memories came slowly floating back into view.

Many of you who read this will remember that Chavez and Spencer were the best of buddies. They were inseparable. Spencer started the girl’s basketball program in 1976, and produced many winning seasons in his 14-year tenure as coach. The two men probably spent as much time in the local coffee shop telling stories and planning strategies during their heyday in Glenwood as they did on the basketball court. They remain good friends to this day.

Doug Laven, who was a member of the 1975 team, which gave Chavez his first of three state championships, was the man responsible for putting in the long hours of work in getting everyone together to make the tribute to Coach a night to remember. Laven was just one of the many who were lucky enough to have been associated with Bob Chavez as he was growing up in Glenwood. The legacy that Coach Chavez and his wife Shirley have established here in our little town goes way beyond the game of basketball. Coach taught everyone how to hold their head high and be a winner in the game of life, and have fun along the way. Mission Accomplished.

Thanks, Coach.

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