Mike Greear's game is baseball, but his passion is being Dad to 13-year-old Tyler and 11-year-old Kaitlyn.
Things worked out well when Tyler not only developed a love for baseball but also a desire to play catcher, his dad's former position on the diamond, but Greear said he would have been just as happy supporting any sport that captured his kids' imaginations.
"When he was little, Tyler played hockey, so I tried to teach myself how to skate," said Greear.
But for the past few years, Greear has had the opportunity to share his extensive baseball knowledge with his son and dozens of other local boys through Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District and Little League programs. In a way, baseball has come full circle in the Greear family.
Greear grew up playing ball in Loveland, and his dad was his coach. "I was out on Sunny Jim Baseball Field when I was 4 years old," said Greear with a smile.
He gravitated to catching because as a Little League "minor" player, he was only issued a T-shirt and a hat. "Majors" players, by contrast, got full uniforms. However, kids who played catcher also got gear and Greear was into the equipment.
He continued playing ball through high school and ultimately played college ball at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. Baseball even brought him to this valley when he signed up to play for the Vail Merchants in 1984. After moving to Eagle County, Greear met his wife, Dawn, in 1990 and the couple married in 1992. In 1998, Tyler was born and his sister followed in 2001.
These days, Greear works as a risk management consultant for a large insurance firm. His job takes him all over the country, but he still finds time to coach the Eagle Pirates - Tyler's 13- and 14-year-old boys' Little League team.
While he instructs kids on proper throwing technique and batting motion, Greear said coaching baseball really gives him a chance to teach boys some important life skills.
"Hopefully they learn that it takes hard work. Nothing comes easy or free," he said.
"There are a lot of highs and lows in this game. It doesn't do you any good to get too high or too low. Baseball is a game played on an even keel," Greear said.
His biggest coaching challenge is to find the balance between being Tyler's coach and Tyler's dad. "The tough part is to be unbiased," he said.
As a former catcher, Greear knows the special challenges that Tyler experiences behind the plate. "Good catchers have to have some leadership and social skills. They are talking all the time - to the pitcher, to the batters, to the umpires," he said.
It's a very physical position as well and at Tyler's level, good catchers can make or break a team.
"I truly believe if you can stop balls from the pitcher, it will save two or three runs a game."
Greear gets his coaching reward when the kids put their skills into practice. "The best part is the moment when it all comes together for them," he said.
Next year Tyler will move on to high school baseball and Greear is uncertain about his coaching future. He would like to continue working with kids, getting them ready for the next level of play. "I don't want to give up on these kids. I want to help make them stronger," he said.
Greear hopes the kids he coaches today will ultimately remember him as fondly as he remembers his former coaches.
"Baseball has taken me a lot of places and I've met a lot of interesting people. I want these kids to have that opportunity," said Greear. "I just hope they all end up loving the game."
- Pam Boyd
With 11 children, 26 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, you would think that Al Hoza knows everything there is to know about being a father.
But he laughs at the very suggestion.
"I haven't seen an instruction manual for fatherhood yet, have you?" he said. "I have made plenty of mistakes. All you can do is love them and treat them the best you can."
Hoza, his wife, Mary, and their nine children arrived in Eagle back in 1966 to take over operation of the Eagle Pharmacy. The final two Hoza boys - Mark and Paul - were born after the family settled in Eagle. But back in 1966, the family's arrival made a big splash - it's not often that a 11-member crew arrives in town.
"We couldn't find a place big enough to live in," said Hoza.
Eventually a man named Cecil Cole contacted Hoza to see if he would be interested in purchasing his house at the corner of Third and Howard streets. The Hozas jumped at the chance.
"We had to remodel it because it only had a couple of bedrooms. We put in four bedrooms upstairs and a bathroom for the kids," said Hoza.
That's right. All 11 Hoza kids - seven boys and four girls - shared a single bathroom growing up and they somehow managed not to kill one another.
Hoza noted there were, of course, various rules that governed the household. The central theme for the Hoza family was fairness. He recalled that one of his daughters said the best part of getting married and starting her own family was she no longer had to count out the cherries when she bought them. Hoza explained when there are 13 people in the household, counting out special treats such as cherries is a necessary precaution to make sure everyone gets equal portions.
All of the Hoza kids spend time working at the Pharmacy while they were growing up.
"We got to spend more time with them that way," he said. "And they all had to earn their own money. I may have only paid them 25 cents an hour, but it was all good."
Hoza said the shear numbers involved didn't keep he and Mary from heading out with the kids for family vacations. He acknowledged that it did take some logistical skills to pack up the clan for a camping trip. And yes, at times one of the kids would turn up missing.
"Poor Alan, we left him behind two or three times," said Hoza. "When you have two cars, sometimes someone would get left out."
The Hoza kids have scattered across the globe as adults. While some members of the family continue to reside around the Eagle area, others live in the Denver area and in western Colorado. Additionally there are Hozas residing in Texas, Alaska and even Australia. With Al celebrating his 84th birthday on May 18 and Al and Mary marking their 60th wedding anniversary on June 7, all the kids were able to come home this spring in a couple of waves. Hoza said the siblings would stay up late every night reminiscing and playing games. It was great to have them all home, he said.
"I am proud of all the kids and how they have all done well," he said. "I am proud that they all have a really good work ethic."
- Pam Boyd
With his long hair and pierced ears, Yuri Kostick might look like a wild child but he is a dedicated, hard-working father of three boys, not to mention the newly elected mayor of Eagle.
"People call the Kostick boys the Wolf Pack," he said of his sons.
Now that Yuri is mayor, his 9-year-old twins, Bode and Alden, and 7-year-old son, Xander, are full of ideas.
"They wanted me to build a skateboard park in front of our house and a swimming pool," he said.
As one might expect from children with ideas like those, Yuri's sons are growing up to be athletic, outdoor-savvy people like their father, who skis, mountain bikes and rock climbs, but it wasn't always like that.
The twins were born in Denver at 29-weeks. A normal term is 40 weeks. Bode had heart surgery when he was six days old and both boys were on oxygen for a long time.
"Alden was on oxygen for less than a year and Bode was on it for nearly two years," Yuri said.
During that time, Yuri was working as Eagle Town Planner and commuting to Denver for graduate school. His wife, Sacha, was also working as she cared for the boys. Xander was born in the first week of Yuri's final year of grad school.
"I've enjoyed every moment since their first breaths," Yuri said.
Between his duties as mayor and his job as an environmental planner for the county, Yuri is once again in the midst of a very busy schedule.
"The intensity has ratcheted up in terms of time commitments," he said.
His boys remain a top priority, however.
"My biggest joy these days is really being able to do things with them, especially the last three years," he said. "They've been skiing since 2 and I can't keep up, now, and we've been doing a lot of road trips to the desert and mountains. When Xander was 5, we did a slot canyon in Utah that required four miles of biking and 12 miles of hiking and they loved it."
Yuri said he hopes to instill an appreciation for wilderness and a sense of adventure. That's what makes him the leader of the Wolf Pack.
- Derek Franz
Jeff Samsel, of Gypsum, welcomed his first daughter, Morgan, early this month. The 40-year-old also has two boys - Aiden, 6, and Dylan, 3 - with his wife, Malisa.
"Having a daughter, it's all the same but different," Jeff said on June 6 when they got home from the hospital. "The boys love having a sister. They've been anticipating it for a couple months. They always want to hold her."
Jeff said at this point he knows what to do with boys but he has some lingering apprehension about handling a daughter.
"She'll have me wrapped around her finger," he said. "The toughest moment of parenting is discipline. There's no way around the fact that you're going to have to give your kids some tough love at times."
Malisa said her husband is a "really good dad."
"He always helps out with my needs and is good about explaining things to the kids and doing things with them instead of just watching cartoons."
As for baby Morgan, Jeff does his share of diaper changing and feeding.
"Especially when Mom gets home from the hospital," he said with a chuckle.
Jeff is a technician for Paragon Technology Group and used to be a graphic designer for Colorado Mountain News Media, where Malisa still works. Computers and gadgets are a big part of his life, along with skiing and baseball - things his children are picking up on as well.
"Your kids are definitely influenced by you," Jeff said. "Sometimes you think they're never going to listen and then they whip out a line from something you said a while back. I have a lot of curiosity as to what their interests and passions will be."
As for Father's Day, he wants to keep things simple.
"It's a nice day to hang out with the family," he said. "I just want to hang out and grill."
- Derek Franz