Catching up with … the Chavez brothers |

Catching up with … the Chavez brothers

Joelle Milholm
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. ” From the beginning, Rob Chavez has had a knack for basketball.

Maybe it was because Bob Chavez was his father. Bob Chavez, the legendary Glenwood Springs basketball coach who notched a 477-161 record in 30 years of coaching.

Or maybe it was because his dad was his coach.

Rob absorbed every bit of basketball knowledge his dad passed around while playing for him. Rob was a member of the Demons’ 1975 state title team, then applied his skills to a good playing career at Mesa State College, and then into 20 years of coaching at the college level.

“He was like the quarterback of the team. He always wanted to coach,” Bob said of his oldest son. “He was always listening and learning. He was a student of the game.”

When the Glenwood Springs basketball team won the Class AA state title in 1975, it was the first championship in school history. Rob had a big part in that.

“He was a good ball player and he scored a lot of points for us,” Bob said of Rob.

Rob poured in 36 in the state title game to help the Demons to victory.

Rob also played football, and during his four years, Glenwood reached the playoffs each season. Rob said it was a good time to be a Demon.

“I just think that the high school experience in Glenwood was very, very positive,” he said. “We had good teams in football, basketball and track and being part of the community and going to school was very fun.”

After his career as a Demon was over, Rob became a Maverick at Mesa State College in Grand Junction. He played four years under the tutelage of another great coaching mentor ” Doug Schakel. Schakel, who coached his first year when Rob was a freshman, racked up a 304-195 record at Mesa.

“I played for a very good coach in Schakel. I had a really positive experience,” Rob said. “I was a starter for the last two years and we had good crowds and I have lots of fun memories of the school and Grand Junction altogether.”

After eight years of playing for successful coaches, the wheels were in motion for Rob to become one himself.

Soon after Rob graduated from Mesa, he was offered a job as an assistant coach for Montana State University in 1980. He coached there for three years before taking the same position at Colorado State and Arizona State universities. Then in 1988, Rob secured his first head coaching job at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Ore. He stayed there for five years before taking the reins at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shores.

After a few years, Rob changed schools again, this time landing at the University of Portland to take over the boys basketball program. In seven years with the Pilots, Rob worked to a 93-103 record, with an upset over Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Championship that earned the team a spot in the 1996 NCAA Tournament. Portland fell in the opening round, but it remains as one of only two trips the school has ever made to the tourney. The appearance was an accomplishment for Rob, but not the one at the top of his list.

“That was a highlight, but not the best one. Certainly playing for Glenwood and winning state in basketball as a player (would be the No. 1 highlight),” Rob said. “Then as a coach, our 50-consecutive win streak at Chemeketa was probably the biggest highlight. We went undefeated, 33-0 one season and then went 17-0 to start the next.”

After the 2001 season, Rob’s college coaching career came to an end.

“I wanted to stay in Portland and watch my girls grow up and play basketball and volleyball,” Rob said of his freshman twin daughters. “When I was coaching I was on the road way too much.”

Rob now works as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch and has been doing that for five years. He still enjoys basketball and admits to enjoying college a little more than pros, but still follows the game at every level. His biggest interest is his daughters, as he sees his priority as being a dad and their No. 1 fan.

“There are parts of coaching I miss,” he said. “But not anything that would make me want to ever do it again.”

With only nine state championships in Glenwood Springs High School history, not many Demon athletes have been part of more than one.

Rick Chavez has.

The 1980 graduate lent a hand on Glenwood’s 1978 state championship football team, then turned around and helped earn another state title for the 1979 basketball team.

While the accomplishments took place almost 20 years ago, Chavez remembers them both vividly. Chavez played during the glory days of Glenwood basketball, when the Demons had legendary coach Bob Chavez, Rick’s dad, at the helm of a program that earned three sate titles in a nine-year span. In 1979, the Demons went 23-0 and Rick remembers the team being almost untouchable.

“We beat Fruita Monument, I think it was the first game of the year, and we beat them by only one or two points,” Rick said. “I think our closest game after that was I think, Roaring Fork. We beat them by 10.”

Even in the state tournament in Denver, no one came within an arm’s reach of Glenwood, which beat Denver Christian 80-62 for the title. As starting point guard, Rick’s role on the team was distribution.

“He was a good passer,” Bob said. “He could dish the ball inside and keep everybody happy.”

With the 1975, ’79 and ’84 basketball teams winning state titles, there is an ongoing debate on which was better.

“It’s always fun to joke around and talk about who had the best team, but we’ll always have the 23-0 and no one else can say that,” Rick said.

Rick and the rest of the ’78 Demon football team earned another state title shortly before embarking on the ’79 title in hoops. He played cornerback for the Glenwood football squad, which won the championship on its home turf the day after a huge snowstorm.

“It was fun. That was the first state football title for Glenwood. It was exciting,” Rick said. “They plowed the field and they hand shoveled a lot of it. They cleaned it up and we just had three to four feet of snow piled on the sidelines. So it was pretty cold, but pretty fun.”

Rick earned all-conference honors that year, as he did the next year. His play caught the attention of the football program at Colorado State University, where he went to school after GSHS.

After playing at CSU his freshman year, Rick transferred to the Colorado School of Mines for the remainder of his college career. The change worked out well academically as Mines was a perfect place for Rick to study chemical engineering.

Rick has been traveling to work around the country ever since he left Mines ” That’s part of the job when you are a consultant in the oil industry. His wife, Jennifer Chavez, another GSHS graduate whom he dated in high school, has been by his side through the moves from Texas to the East Coast.

“My wife and I have had 18 different residences in 23 years of marriage,” Rick said.

Rick and Jennifer, as well as their two sons, currently live in Dallas. They visit Glenwood in the summers and may be uprooting again as they are eyeing a homecoming.

“My son would love to go to high school in Glenwood. So we may move back here next year and let him go to school in Glenwood,” said Rick, who competes in some of the community races like the Strawberry Shortcut, Turkey Day 5K and YouthZone Uphill Challenge. “He loves it up here. And my wife, we both love it here.”

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