Oh, boy, coach serves up winning season

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This is not your typical Tom, Dick or Harry. Or even Jim.
I remember the first time I went to meet Jimmie Mergleman — all I knew was the name, I didn’t know how it was spelled — so I assumed Jimmie was a man. Boy, was I wrong. This Jimmie is a woman.
“My dad’s name is James Lee, and I’m Jimmie Lynn,” Mergleman said. “We all have boys’ names, all of us girls. I have another sister Billie. And there’s Erin. Then I have a brother, Brett, who is the twin to Billie.”
Mergleman, who took on the volleyball coaching duties at Rangely High School two weeks before the start of practice, guided the Lady Panthers to the state tournament last weekend in Denver.
Dave Walck, who had been the Rangely volleyball coach, left for a different position in Grand Valley, leaving the Lady Panthers without a volleyball coach, and the start of the season just around the corner.
Mergleman came to the rescue.
“I talked to Mr. Jansen, (Mark, RHS athletic director) and said that if nobody applied, because it was such late notice, with two weeks before the season, that I would take it on so they would have a coach,” Mergleman said. “I have coached basketball for the past two years, so I knew the girls really well.”
The Lady Panthers’ volleyball team advanced to state last year, but they had lost eight seniors from that squad, and another girl decided not to go out this season.
“I didn’t really have any expectations,” said Mergleman, who teaches business at RHS. “We were really young. When I took over, I made some of the changes I wanted to make. I decided to run a different offensive set, and I moved some people around to different positions. But the girls handled it well.”
It took awhile for the team to adjust, but the Lady Panthers continued to improve as the season went on, peaking at the regional tournament, where they beat county rival Meeker, and qualified for state.
“We played our best ball at regionals,” Mergleman said. “We were definitely at the top of our game. We had improved each weekend, as the season went on.”
Mergleman knows the Meeker program well. She grew up in Meeker and played basketball and volleyball for the Cowgirls, graduating in 1999. Her parents and brother live there.
“I know the (Meeker) girls and the girls’ parents,” Mergleman said. “Christy (Atwood, Meeker High School coach) actually coached the C team when I was in high school. I’ve known her forever.”
Mergleman, who also keeps busy at home with a 2-year-old daughter, won’t get much of a break between sports seasons. Basketball practice started Wednesday.
“I am going to take a couple of days off, and then we’ll start (basketball) Wednesday,” she said Sunday, after returning from the state volleyball tournament.
When I talked to Mergleman on Sunday, I confessed that, before we met, I thought she was a man, based on the first name.
“That’s OK,” she said, laughing. “It happens all of the time.”
People may be confused because of her first name, but when it comes to the question of whether she knows her stuff, there should be no confusion.
This Jimmie has proved she can coach with the, uh, big boys.
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Brandy Giao said Gene Scritchfield, who died in a tractor accident Oct. 29, was a frequent customer at the Cowgirl Cappuccino on west Highway 13 in Meeker.
“Oh, yeah, he was a regular,” Brandy said. “He’d come by in the mornings with a big grin on his face and he would say, ‘I would like a latte for my lovely bride,’ because that’s what he called her. He would do it just because it made her happy. He was one of those guys you can’t say anything bad about. I told Ann Marie (his wife) it was a privilege and a pleasure to have known him.”
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With all of the recent financial news, it has led to rumors and speculation about how the economy would affect energy development in northwest Colorado. Jeff Madison, natural resource specialist for Rio Blanco County, said there is still plenty of activity in the area, and no sign of it slowing down anytime soon.
“There are any number of rumors of doom and gloom circulating about, mostly along the theme of, ‘See, I told you this would not last. Company X is laying off all its workers and going to (fill in the state).’
“In the course of business over the last month, we have been asking the companies for 2009 plans. Most are doing business as usual, maybe just not ramping up quite as fast as they have been the last two years. Some of the very small companies, five to 10 wells a year, are cutting back, but that happens all the time.
“Enterprise, specifically, is finishing up on the second train of the plant, so it makes sense they would be letting construction staff go. I talked to the Enterprise people just (the other day) about next year’s plans, and they are going to be submitting an application for permitting for Phases, 3, 4, 5 and possibly 6, very soon. That is another $2 billion worth of construction and will triple the capacity of the plant. They want to start construction next summer. If that is shutting down, I don’t want to see moving forward.”
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This must say something about my age. A magazine cover caught my eye recently with the headline: “50 reasons to love being 50+.” The publication was the AARP magazine.
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Grace Hughes, former Rangely resident, who now lives in Arizona, was one of the individuals who provided prize money for the Rangely Radino Center’s Halloween Day.
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Speaking of Halloween, Chrissy Nielsen of Meeker was the winner Oct. 31 in a drawing for a Halloween basket, donated by Horizons Specialized Services.
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With the recent addition of a new puppy, I checked out a book at the library called, “Labrador Retrievers for Dummies.” If the library had “Huskies for Dummies,” I would check that book out too, since the puppy is a mix of the two breeds.
Now, if I could just get her to stop chewing on the book.

Jeff Burkhead is editor of the Herald Times. You may e-mail him at jeff@theheraldtimes.com.