Saturday, June 23, 2012
Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Joel here.
Steamboat Springs The Athlete of the Year segment we do every summer honoring high school sports is often among my favorite and most hated assignments.
I love the section for two reasons.
First, it’s always a blast to go back and pick through the year’s best moments. There are always so many and plenty get lost along the way as we move from week to week and season to season. I love debating in the office about what game was best and who deserves what honors.
Second, I love bestowing those honors. My call to the Athlete of the Year I’m covering is always among my favorite to make.
It’s not all perfect, however. No matter how we approach it, so many great performances and performers are left out.
We don’t have a lot of set criteria. We like three-sport athletes, but it’s not a requirement. The first male Athlete of the Year we chose in my time here was Steamboat tennis great Ramsey Bernard, who excelled only in tennis. Boy, did he excel, though.
We start with a mishmash of ideas and opinions, a long list of players, of moments and of games, and through hours of debating, we slot them into the holes we have.
Sometimes it takes a bit of grease to make it all fit, but even then, it never all fits.
There was no place this year for Hayden senior Chad Terry’s romp through the state wrestling tournament. That may have been the best single storyline I covered this season. It encompassed three previous seasons of iron will and heartbreak, and it was capped with one of the best wrestling matches I ever expect to see when he lost in the state championship.
We didn’t fit much in from a great season by the Soroco football team or a similar campaign by the Hayden boys basketball team. That squad, coached by Mike Luppes, showed an astonishing ability to turn heads when many had written the season off as “a building year.”
There wasn’t room for fine seasons by Steamboat’s tennis squads, both of which shined despite stumbling at the state tournament. We didn’t include much about great seasons from Steamboat soccer.
We didn’t include “most improved” awards this season, but there were certainly athletes deserving. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an athlete improve in one season as much as Jake Miller did for the Steamboat basketball team. He went from varsity non-factor to one of the best players in the league. Soroco’s Madison George didn’t make quite the same jump, but she took her basketball skills from good to great, and that was impressive, as well. For Hayden, none may have improved more than Kelsey Rolando, who also went from JV to varsity, using her superb long-range shooting to help lift her team.
We could never fit into one newspaper all the noteworthy stories we cover and come across during the season. Surely, even this column left plenty out. But that’s part of the fun of it all. It was another great year for local athletes and teams, and summing it up is a mighty and fun challenge.