Diana Lynn Rau: Grand County, home of champions
Grand County, CO Colorado
Kids dream. They dream of being a fireman, a cowboy, a princess, president of the United States. Some dream of being in the Olympics.
Monday, April 18, you can meet some of those “kids” who dared to dream. They set their goals high. They shot for the moon. And they made it.
Not very many people stick with their dreams long enough to make it really big. It takes long hard work to make dreams a reality.
Often parents scrimp and save and work extra hours and even extra jobs to provide an opportunity for a talented kid to have a chance to make it big. A good coach spends untold hours working with someone in which they see that special spark. Raw talent needs training, and it often takes many people many years to produce that polished end result we see on the race course or on the jump hill or on the ice rink.
But that athlete must want that perfection. He or she must be driven. And he must be encouraged and supported by the people around him or her.
Through the years Grand County has produced many incredible athletes. We have seen people like Bruce Cranmer, Landis Arnold, Todd Wilson, Ryan Heckman, Alison Powers, to name a few rise to the top of the ladder and compete on our Olympic and national teams and even return to coach them.
Looking through recent high school yearbooks, you see names like Sprague, Schmidt, Sutton, Rankin, Coucke, Burrows, Kroneberger and Birdseye on every other page of athletic teams. The sports results ring with more names like Zink, Wilderman, Morck, Roberts, Berggren, Newberry and Nelson. Some are siblings, some are father and son or mother or daughter. Zastrow, Conrad, Saffell, Garrett, Hydrusko, Reynolds, Shipman, Hobbs, Stensvad, Clancy, and the list goes on.
Last week, Brandon Cronin won the dual Mogul event at the Rocky Mountain Freestyle Spring Fling while Nick Steneka and Brandon Goldenberg won the Spencer Nelson buckle for their excellent performances all year.
And then there’s Sam Berggren with state titles in not only track but both skate and classic Nordic skiing. She’s off to Auburn with a full ride track scholarship! And there are more state title winners in other sports like Macchionne in wrestling.
Every year we watch athletes sign with various schools for various sports and we wonder how far they will go. Do they have what it takes? What keeps a high school graduate driving to achieve that top performance? Some athletes achieve great success as a young 20-year-old. Some make it as “seniors” or “Masters” where we compete against our own age group. And that starts at age 30. Maturity counts big in distance or endurance events. In past years, Clint Roberts won Nordic skiing and high altitude running events all over the state. Shawn and Stephanie Scholl are a husband wife team that at some time won every Nordic and running event and Shawn is currently the National Coach of the US Disabled Nordic Team. Just this past March, Dave Cleveland won almost every Senior Master event at US Biathlon Nationals in Minnesota. That is Cross Country skiing with two rounds of shooting, one prone and one standing. My heart would be pounding so hard I’d miss the target completely and have to ski a penalty loop for every miss. And we have more ultra athletes who just keep going and going. I know there are many more. And we mourn deeply the loss of ones with so much potential.
Successful parents often stimulate their kids. Sometimes it’s just having family fun or bringing along friends. Sometimes it’s learning an ethic of serious training. Watch out for Tabor and Tyler Scholl. They won the national trophy in their age groups for the AAU Cross Country National Championships for the last two years. This winter, they were tops at the Junior Olympics at Snow Mtn and Soldier Hollow, and at the Snow Mountain Stampede and Big Shooter Bonk. Dave Cleveland’s son won the kids race at the Snow Mountain Stampede. And other upcoming kids like the Irvings, Silbers, Browers, Troccolis are already setting records and more need to be encouraged.
We are blessed in Grand County with people who love the out of doors. We think nothing of going for a full day ski up a mountain or taking gates with our kids. We bicycle to the Continental Divide and run raging rivers in kayaks and rafts. And we encourage and support each other in those efforts to be the best.
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