Bob Isbell will tell you that, typically, he’s not the most photogenic guy. But when it really counted, somehow it all worked out.”In my entire life I’ve taken one good picture,” Bob says. “The year Linda came to UT Arlington she looked in the yearbook and saw my picture. She said, ‘I want to meet that guy.’ Really, it was a good picture. I look at the whole thing and think it was God just taking care of me and for poor Linda, probably a curse.”Bob grew up in a small town in Texas called Stamford, where his mother taught third grade until she was 70 years old. She still lives there to this day.Bob played football and was on the track team at a very successful high school where his dad had coached both sports and taught math for a number of years.”As I look back it was a ‘Beaver Cleaver’ childhood,” Bob says.He went to UT Arlington and majored in mathematics and minored in physics. He met his wife-to-be Linda not long after she stumbled across that fateful yearbook picture. The two ended up in a history class together and soon after, began dating. A year-and-a-half later, the pair were married and today, nearly 35 years later, the two still are.”It was instant love for me,” Bob says. “It took her a little longer to realize I was the one and only understandably. She’s been a saint to put up with me for 35 years. It’s been a real blessing.”After college, Bob followed in both of his parent’s footsteps and began teaching at a school in a small town near Arlington. Eventually Bob and Linda moved to a small town in West Texas called Andrews, where they would spend nine years. In the meantime, their first son, Chris, had been born. Three years later, in 1979, Travis followed. The Isbell’s last year in Texas was spent in San Antonio where they both taught at a large school.”There were about 2,000 students,” Bob remembers. “Neither of us liked that setting very well, we had been used to a school with more like 800 students. We found that San Antonio was a great place to visit but we didn’t think it was a great place to raise children.”As a result, Bob began applying for head football coach positions. Bob and Linda made a wish list of places they’d like to go. Vail was high on that list.”We’d been coming to Vail for the past 10 years or so to ski,” Bob says. “We spent the summer prior to us moving out living in Vail. I was building a house for a friend in East Vail. We just loved the summers here with fly-fishing and golf and everything.”Bob called Craig Loper, the principal of Battle Mountain High School at the time, to inquire about jobs. He didn’t have any open teaching positions in math or science at the time, but the two hit it off and Loper recommended that Bob keep checking in each month. Eventually a job opened up, along with an assistant football coach position, and a track head coach job. Bob accepted and, soon after, he and Linda moved their family to Vail.”It just ended up working out,” Bob says.The last football game of the season in Bob’s first year at Battle Mountain was against Steamboat Springs, who happened to be the No. 1 team. BMHS was second-to-last in the league. Then head football coach for the Huskies, Pat Phelan, pulled Bob, who was the defensive coordinator, aside. Phelan wanted Bob to switch to offense for that final game.”I told Bob to put together the offense for that one game and we went out and beat Steamboat,” Phelan says. “After that I sat him down and talked to him and said, ‘Bob you have to be the head coach next year.’ Bob, he’s real humble, he’s a true gentleman. He said, ‘Oh no, Pat.’ I said, ‘No, Bob, you don’t understand, I want to win some football games.’ That was the best decision I made as head coach firing me and hiring him.”That next year the two coaches switched positions and the Huskies ended up in the state playoffs.”That next year we were 7-2,” Bob says. “We really had some great teams, we had a lot of talented athletes.”Bob spent eight years at BMHS, coaching football and teaching mathematics. Eventually he left teaching to build houses in Cordillera. He returned to teaching when Gracious Savior Lutheran Church in Edwards decided to open a Christian high school.”When we started looking at opening the school, we called Juls Clausen who was at Denver Lutheran at the time,” Bob says. “Clausen agreed to be the principal, but only if both Linda and I would teach at the high school.”And so they agreed to be teachers at the new Vail Christian High School. Seven years later, both Linda and Bob are still teaching. Linda teaches French and Bob teaches theology. After the school year ends, the current principal of Vail Christian High School will leave and Bob will act as interim principal until a replacement is found. Next fall, the school will be located a few miles west of its current location, across from Saint Claire of Assisi.”We started the school with 32 students, and right now I think we have 89,” Bob says. “It’s really exciting. Hopefully next year, as we look at our incoming freshman class, we could be at 100 for the first time.”For Bob, helping to open Vail Christian High School was a tremendous experience for him and something that he feels blessed to have taken part in.”We really felt like there was a need in the valley (for a Christian high school),” Bob says.With Bob, it’s clear that he is passionate about what he does.”Without a doubt it has been the single most rewarding experience in my career,” Bob says. “It is wonderful to work with such a dedicated group of teachers and with parents that are so supportive and students that are motivated toward excellence.”Bob and Linda’s oldest son Chris graduated from Notre Dame and now lives in Cincinnati with his wife, Abigail, and Bob’s first and only grandson (so far), Andrew Robert. Travis, the Isbell’s youngest son is just finishing up his last year of medical school at Texas A&M. He plans on going into surgery and should know soon where he will end up.”We were blessed to come to Vail,” Bob says. “People know we’re from Texas and they haven’t run us off in 17 years, so I don’t see us leaving.” VTCaramie Schnell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Vail’s updated plans regarding the state guidelines and isolation housing requirements is one of several pieces of information guests are waiting on heading into the 2020-21 season.