Over the course of my career, I have written a lot of sports stories about a wide variety of athletic teams from junior high and high schools and for college and university teams as well as the Denver Broncos.
I have dealt with a large number and wide variety of coaches, each one being an individual and each one having a different coaching style and philosophy.
I have learned a variety of tricks over those years to get coaches to open up and perhaps say a few things that might have been a bit more revealing than the coaches have wanted.
Klark Kindler, the head coach of the Meeker High School boys’ basketball team, has been one of the exceptions. He knows what he wants to say, says it, and he doesn’t say what he doesn’t want to.
A good sports writer will get a coach to talk about his players, tell you how valuable a top player is, and oftentimes overindulge on a particular player. No harm there.
It doesn’t take much for a fan to know who is the best player or the best two or three players from a game’s scoring, rebounds, steals, etc., if you are talking basketball.
If you are talking football, a player’s passing statistics, running yards or receiving yards or even kicking points are strong indicators. Often, in football, it is the offensive and defensive linemen who are the forgotten heroes.
But try as hard as I have for the past couple of weeks while reporting on the MHS boys’ run to the state basketball tournament this weekend, I have been unable to get Kindler to level praise on any one of the players on his squad.
While speaking with the pride of a coach who has had a great year like the Cowboys have this year, Kindler has consistently pointed to the success of “we,” the team as a whole, that has progressed through a season with more than 22 wins against one loss.
I have baited Kindler and I have asked about particular players by name, and he just won’t respond with praise or criticism regarding any particular player.
In more than 40 years in this business, I have never run across any other coach at any level of competition who has been so adamant about talking about the team’s success as “we.”
It is a pleasant surprise to find.
There are critics of Kindler out there—no question about it. There are those who think he may be a bit rough on the guys and that he may yell too much.
But he seems to instill respect—not fear—in his players, and it seems from talking to a couple of them in the past month, they respond to him out of respect, not fear.
He seems genuinely appreciative of a player who contributes a pair of points or plays well defensively just as much as he does the leading scorer in a game. He believes it take each and every point and each player’s effort to be the winner that his team is.
He is a tough coach, but often times it is a tough coach who is needed; and it isn’t up to me to decide if he is too tough on those kids or not. They know!
He certainly is producing a winning team, and that is what he was hired to do.
Regardless of what one thinks about Kindler, and there isn’t a coach on earth who doesn’t have his or her detractors, Kindler has a successful program.
And if he was such a brute, I would doubt that the senior class last year would have requested that he be the guest speaker at graduation.
Regardless of what happens at state—and everyone hopes they come home this weekend with the state title—it will have been a team effort. And that is the way it should be.
It is just the first of March, and already the schedule of events is starting to fill up the weekend calendar.
I can safely say I have never lived in a county with so much “action going on” nearly every weekend from March through September. It is starting already.
I’ve been to the Meeker Education Foundation Dinner, we have already covered the Stockgrowers’ and Woolgrowers’ annual meetings, the Rangely Chamber of Commerce annual banquet (known as The Crab Crack), the Meeker Chamber of Commerce annual banquet (this past weekend) and there are many other activities on the schedule even before we come close to summer.
The conservation districts have also had their annual dinners and business meetings.
This Saturday is the “Annual Gala Banquet” honoring Meeker Volunteer Fire and Rescue and the Wild Game Dinner, which will be held on the Colorado Northwestern Community College campus in Rangely.
The weekend of April 2 will play host to Easter, followed by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation annual banquet and the CNCC Foundation Dinner both on April 11 in Meeker and Rangely, respectively, as well as the Rangely Community Health Fair.
The weekend of April 18 is the annual After Birth Ball, which culminates a full day, filled with business and agricultural seminars in Meeker.
The weekend of April 25 will also be busy with the Channel 9 Health Fair in Meeker and the Meeker High School prom, keeping some folks busy all day and night on Saturday.
It would be a tough argument to make to say that there is nothing going on in Rio Blanco County for about eight months of the year.
And as soon as the weather gets a little warmer, we will be looking at a full summer of outdoor events such as Range Call, the Rio Blanco County Fair, Septemberfest, the Meeker Sheepdog Classic, the Meeker Fall Festival, etc.—a full slate of events that last from one to five days.
Nothing to do?
I don’t think so…
Despite there not being enough snow to provide for a snowmobile/sledding play day on Sunday and despite illness taking the entertainment away from the inaugural Meeker Education Foundation Dinner, a successful event was reported for the MEF fundraiser event on the evening of Sunday, March 1.
Between the excellent dinner and successful auction after the dinner, Mary Strang, the president of the Meeker Education Foundation, reported that the event raised $6,828.
The fundraiser, according to the MEF, was put on to raise funds to “provide staff and student grant awards for academic activity enrichment opportunities, professional development and classroom needs,” Strang said.
Congratulations on a successful fundraiser for some important purposes, and hopefully this year’s event will lead to many even more successful events in the future.
Let’s all hear it for the news that Peyton Manning will return to the lineup this coming NFL season for the Denver Broncos.
This will likely be his last chance to nail that elusive Super Bowl trophy, but he still offers the best chance I can think of to accomplish the tough feat. Backup quarterback Brock Osweiler may (hopefully) be the quarterback the Broncos turn to when Payton finally does leave.
But nothing has yet convinced me he is ready to step in and take over where Payton has left off.
It is good news, I believe, that Manning will be back. Let’s hope he is able to live up to what he is capable of accomplishing and has already accomplished once with the Indianapolis Colts.
I think a lot of us are a bit tired of hearing, “Well, there’s always next year.”
I don’t think so.
Good luck, Cowboys! Best of wishes at state this weekend!