In this Thanksgiving week, of all weeks, it is time for all of us to step back and give thanks to those who helped us along on our journey. I have had the pleasure this fall to be a part of an incredible journey to a state championship with a group of boys that embraced the concept of team before individual, maximized their individual ability, rode their luck just a little bit and were humbled by an outpouring of support that was simply incredible.
The Battle Mountain boys soccer team would like to thank the various businesses that supported the team, the individuals who went the extra mile and the school community of staff, students, parents and alumni who were along for the journey.
Many businesses supported this team along the way. Larkburger contributed practice jerseys that kept the boys looking sharp all year. The black-and-gold jerseys were a source of pride as the boys wore them around town. Larkburger is a local success story and continues to give back to the community in which it was founded.
JB T's printed these jerseys and our traditional league championship hoodies. Bob's Place was the location for several team breakfasts on Saturday game days and is a great spot to watch a game and enjoy a meal. Blue Sky Mortgage even helped us out with our tab one morning!
Fiesta's was the usual location to celebrate victories with a burrito and some good company. Blue Moose Pizza in Vail hosted our fundraiser and chipped in pizzas on several occasions, most notably after the league title-clinching win in Summit and a huge order to feed the students on the spirit busses headed for the semifinal game. The generosity of restaurant group 970, Brian Nolan and his crew continues to amaze.
Many individuals helped this team all season. The office team of Dena Martinez and Christy Martinez serves as the administrative directors of the team and work hard to make sure the trains run on time! Ryan McCay is our athletic director and worked hard to keep the details together, the paperwork signed, the rules obeyed and the athletic department running smoothly.
We couldn't have better administrative support at the building level. Phil Qualman doubles as principal and as the announcer at home games. He set up the spirit buses and made the three playoff away games a memorable experience for the whole school. This guy is a champion of kids, and it is an honor to work for him.
Rob Parish and Jason Spannagel deal with much of the discipline at Battle Mountain High School and are there to deal with it when kids will be kids. Rob's own cross-country team did very well this fall, and he still managed to share an athlete with us (well done, Suarez!) and to support the team fully.
The rest of the staff were incredible fans and mentors to the team. Thanks for keeping them on track in the classroom and for making it to some games. I especially love Team Minturn following us on the road! You guys rock! Jade is the best and got us to the show on time!
And documenting it all for posterity was the intrepid Chris Freud at the Vail Daily, along with Steve and the boys at KZYR, TV8 and KSKE. Thanks to all of you.
Finally, to the Husky Nation, you are amazing! When I said in the Vail Daily that we travel like Notre Dame, I meant it. It was so humbling to see so many families, former players and coaches, colleagues, students and friends in the stands during this run. These are the moments that turn a school into a community.
I'll never forget after the final kick seeing Brian Claymon and the seniors hanging over the rail celebrating. When three away games in the playoffs are decided by a total of one goal and two PK shootouts, it can be directly attributed to the 12th man in the stands.
The team would like to thank Kyle Mercer for years of dedicated service to Husky soccer. He is leaving us this week for a return to California and a new life of wedded bliss.
The Cope family, led by Kathleen, have been stalwart supporters of this team and its coach for decades. it simply would not be worthwhile or possible without them to come home to. Hazel and Alan Cope flew in for the final to lend their voices to the boisterous crowd. They attended the 1966 World Cup final when England won it and left me behind with a babysitter! This time I got to go to the match!
Thanks for the best banquet ever to Patricia Aubel, the Leeds, the LyBargers, the Wood family, Linda Hill and Bruce Gillie and Noke Yubonmai decorated in fine style, prepared food, made videos and put together slide shows. It was a celebration worthy of a state championship!
It takes a village to raise a soccer player, or something like that. There are many people who played an important role in the development of these players. Let's remember that almost every one of these players played in the Vail Valley Soccer Club. Joel Rabinowitz and Kyle Mercer, in particular, guided them. Mike Feichtinger, Don Dressler and many others at the club helped guide these players along the way. Many of the players also enjoyed The Youth Foundation's academic support and athletic programs. The boys enjoyed playing for Lee, Bratzo and the boys. This year, we even got to compete against them!
We are also privileged to enjoy an incredible infrastructure of fields and a field house for year-round play. The Stadium at Battle Mountain High School turned out to be one of the best venues for high school sports in the country. Thanks to those at the Eagle County School District who had the vision and the guts to build it.
Finally, to the players. Thanks for the journey. You gave an old coach a season to remember. I hope you take the lessons with you for a lifetime and never forget to give back to the game and to the next generation. Remember the Huskies!
To the returning players, we've got a trophy to defend. Let's remember: On the day you aren't training, two people are. One wants your job, and the other wants your trophy!
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and let the winter begin! I hope to see you all up on the mountain. Good luck to the winter sports athletes, and let's start getting ready for spring. Hey, girls, if I remember correctly, I think we have our own score to settle in a place called Evergreen!