This great day took things to the limit |

This great day took things to the limit

Mike Vidakovich
Staff Photo |

I noticed there is a movie out called, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” I don’t really have much to say about that, other than I haven’t seen the movie, and lately, I haven’t experienced many days like the one Alexander apparently had.

I did have a very good day just awhile ago. In fact, it was Wednesday, Oct. 22, and I think I will go ahead and tell you about it.

The morning started with an email from the Colorado High School Activities Association announcing a book signing on Nov. 6 at their offices by former Denver Christian High School basketball coach Dick Katte. The name of the new book is, “Over-Time: Coach Katte on Basketball and Life.”

The email also included all the impressive facts of Katte’s basketball coaching career which began in 1964: The state’s all-time leader in coaching victories with a record of 876-229, eight state championships, and a member of the CHSAA Hall of Fame.

I remember coach Katte well. The Glenwood Demon basketball team I was fortunate enough to be a part of, faced off with Katte’s Crusaders in the 1979 2A state championship game at the old McNichol’s Sports Arena. We won by a large margin, giving another pretty fair coach, Bob Chavez, his second state title. He would go on to win his third gold ball in 1984 before retiring following the 1989 season.

After reading the short biography on Katte, I thought back to the days when I was the junior varsity coach for Chavez and he became the victory leader among Colorado schoolboy coaches. He passed legendary Regis High coach Guy Gibbs that night, late in the 1989 season to move to the top of the prestigious list. Chavez coached 30 years — all with the Demons — and finished his career with an impressive 477-161 record.

Unbeknownst to me, my basketball déjà vu for the day was not quite finished.

That same afternoon, as I was driving in to Glenwood Elementary for a substitute teaching job, the 1975 song “Take it to the Limit,” by the Eagles came on the radio. I hadn’t heard the song in years, but I smiled as I remembered how much Coach Chavez loved it, and how he would bring it up to us at most every practice and game as a source of motivation.

Trying my best now to keep my concentration on the road ahead of me, I thought back to the March evening of 1979 when Chavez and his seven senior players were in a school van headed back to our motel, the Broadway Plaza in Denver, following the triumphant win over Denver Christian. The big, shiny, gold trophy was riding shotgun next to our coach, and glittering as we passed the many street lights of the big city.

We all hooted and hollered simultaneously as “Chav” accidentally ran a red light as we continued on our journey toward a well-deserved celebration. As the volume of laughter and good-natured kidding about coach’s driving skills grew, coach Chavez laughed along with his boys and shouted, “We’re taking it to the limit one last time!”

As my very good, wonderful, not-bad-at-all day neared completion, I spotted a familiar face from 1979 out on the field, near the playground at Glenwood Elementary.

Lo and behold, my old teacher, Jack Green was directing a group of kindergarten children in his after school enrichment class called “Spellbinders.” The kids were locked into what looked like a state of pure joy as Green instructed them to first act like elephants, then clouds, and finally a thunderstorm. A good time was being had by all, especially me as I watched Green keep the kids moving and entertained.

As a reward for completing his class, Green had the children line up so he could pass out a magic rock to each of them.

I wasn’t about to miss out on this, so I lined up, careful not to crowd any of the kindergartners, and when it was my turn in line, Mr. Green looked at me carefully, the way he once did in high school, and dug deep for my magic rock.

I looked anxiously, eyes wide, as I was handed the keepsake from his bag. In a serious tone, Jack said, “Keep this forever Mike, and it will bring you good luck!”

I make sure now to put it in my pocket each day before I leave the house. It may only be magical to me and my old teacher, but that’s OK. It sure was the topper to a great day.

Maybe all Alexander needs is a magical rock of his own from his high school teacher, and his bad days will be a thing of the past.

Mike Vidakovich is a freelance writer from Glenwoood Springs. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent.

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