Up and down el Rio Blanco: Great kids

We raise some great kids around here. Last week I wrote about the favorite part of my job as being able to watch kids grow up. I got to witness some of them growing up last week and I look forward to watching more this week.
I started working for the newspaper more than a dozen years ago, writing sports stories, and I still catch myself thinking what a great job I have, watching kids play games, taking pictures and writing about them.
Of course, it’s more than just games though, to me it’s about the friendships one builds while playing them, especially the big one, the game of life.
I’m thankful I got to grow up here, in a small town where people honestly care about each other. I was graduated from high school here more than 30 years ago and am fortunate to have several friends who still live in the area. People I have been friends since we played games together in high school, some even back to grade school.
As much fun as it is to watch the games, sometimes it’s hard to observe the trust and strength built off the courts, fields and wrestling mats but I’ve learned the best things in life do not come easy.
Last week I witnessed friends coming together in support of each other because of the loss of a classmate. Some returned from college, some from jobs in other places and others who still live here, all in honor and respect for the relationships they have built over their young years. I hope the experience makes them stronger and brings them closer together.
I witnessed a friendship develop between local freshman Ty Shepherd and Ken Tork, from Washington state. Tork suffered the loss of his son, who was the same age as Ty. I have a feeling their friendship will continue for years to come. I heard the confidence in Ty’s voice when he told me his school mates gave him a standing ovation when Ken presented him an award after their presentation in an all-school assembly.
I’m looking forward to witnessing more friendships grow stronger this weekend at the regional basketball tournaments in Denver. Both of our high schools’ boys’ and girls’ teams will compete this weekend, which, in my humble opinion, is an incredible feat in itself — all of our high school teams competing against the best in the state, in an effort to become the best.
The Meeker teams will play at Standley Lake High School and the Rangely teams will play at the University of Denver, Friday. Unfortunately the Meeker girls play at the same time as the Rangely girls and the same with the two boys’ teams.
I know that competing at this level will create memories and build strong friendships that will last a lifetime. Win or lose, after watching them this season and seasons past, I know they will all play hard for each other and leave it all on the court.
I know this because we raise some great kids around here.