Bob Chavez earns Hall of Fame honors
The legacy of Bob Chavez will etch itself deeper into the annals of Colorado prep basketball.
Last month the former Glenwood Springs High School boys basketball coach, who is already a member of the Colorado High School Coaches Hall of Fame, had the high school’s gym named after himself and fellow coach Harlan Spencer.
Tonight the Colorado High School Activities Association will induct Chavez into its Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Radisson Hotel Denver Southeast.
Chavez was known as a coach who put his players first and whose enthusiasm was so contagious it infected everyone around him – from players to fans.
“That’s what this Hall of Fame is all about – people like Bob Chavez,” said CHSAA commissioner Bill Reader, who was also the principal at Glenwood from 1977-85. “He’s just generally a good person who did everything he could to help kids.
“It’s a thrill for me personally to be able to honor him.”
He was also one of the most successful coaches in Colorado basketball history during his 30-year tenure, and will be the first inductee from Glenwood.
His 477-161 overall record ranks fourth on the CHSAA list, but ranked first when he retired in 1989. He led the Demons to three AA state titles in 1975, 1979 and 1984, and his 1979 team went undefeated. His teams also finished second four times, third once and netted three consolation titles.
Chavez’s record speaks for itself, but his true legacy, particularly in the Glenwood area, is his influence on children and the Glenwood community as a whole.
“He’s one of the top coaches in the history of the state, clearly,” Reader said. “Just seeing how he was able to take a group of kids and make them into a championship team.
“Bob was a program builder and got those kids thinking about basketball in first grade and those kids wanted to be just like the high school kids,” Reader added. “When that’s the focus of kids growing up – something that positive – it can’t help but help the community. That was his real forte – building programs and getting kids involved.”
Chavez was always a coach who wore his emotions on his sleeve while pacing the sidelines, but he seems to be taking the recent spate of honors in stride. The biggest thing, according to Chavez, is seeing old friend and former players.
“Seeing the ballplayers. That’s what I really enjoyed,” Chavez said of the dedication of the Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium held in December at Glenwood Springs High School. “That was the big point of the whole thing.”
And, true to form, Chavez accepted the Hall of Fame nomination, at least in part, for his former players, family and the Glenwood community.
At the end of his career a rift developed between Chavez and CHSAA over the elimination of consolation games that allowed players from the smaller schools to get an extra game or two in the big venues at the state tournament in Denver.
Chavez turned down nominations after his retirement, but was recently talked into joining the hall by his son, Rick.
“Mr. Reader and I talked about it and said, `it’s been 12 years and we need to move on,'” Rick Chavez said. “And for his family and grandkids for all his ex-ballplayers … it shows Glenwood Springs needs to be on the map.”
“I think (CHSAA) is a great organization,” Bob Chavez said. “I was just bitter at the time about what they did to basketball. It’s a heck of a hard job and I was too bone-headed and just upset at the time. Now I’ve changed my mind.”
Along with Reader – who said he’s “as excited to see (Chavez) as he is to put him in the Hall of Fame” – Chavez will also be inducted with another old friend in former Regis High School basketball coach Guy Gibbs.
Other inductees include: Fowler High School administrator Larry Vibber; coach and official Eulalia Skinner; Lake County skiing and cross country coach Don Quinn; Flagler High School athlete Terri Fritzler-McNair; and Denver East High School athlete Ron Shavlik.
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