Kings of the Mountain are named |

Kings of the Mountain are named

Katie and Tom Pyle had a great run in the father/daughter division of this yeear's King of the Mountain volleyball tournament in Vail. They came in from Highlands Ranch. Katie plays for Heritage High School. Randy Wyrick photo

VAIL – The King of the Mountain volleyball tournament made dads feel like kings Sunday.

The men’s and women’s open divisions had the best players, but the father/daughter and father/son divisions had the most fun. If smiles and high-fives from your kids are the payoff, these fathers hit the mother load.

A few two-person teams even had matching shirts, although one look at the kids and you knew who they belonged to. The father/daughter and father/son divisions are now 88 teams strong. Now in its 39th year, the King of the Mountain has grown to almost 500 teams.

Longtime local Paul Smith had never played volleyball before this weekend. And he was playing on a blown ankle.

His adorable daughter, Celia, 15, was impressed. What dad lacked in coaching, technique and experience, he made up for with want-to.

They played well, they had a great time, and they were smiling at each other when they were done.

“He played really well,” Celia said. “He’s easy to play with. He doesn’t get upset when something doesn’t go exactly right.”

Celia plays for Battle Mountain High School and the Thunder volleyball club. She’s a fixture on the sand courts in Avon, so she knows what volleyball looks like when it goes right.

“Everyone was so nice,” Paul said. “They treated a beginner like a pro.”

Paul and Celia had played Katie and her dad, Tom Pyle. Katie and Tom made the trek up from Highlands Ranch. The Pyles played last year when the King of the Mountain first added the division. They’re back this year. They’d just won their sixth game with no losses when we caught up with them.

“Last year changed the whole deal,” Tom said, beaming at Katie. “This is the best way to spend Father’s Day I can imagine.”

Katie plays for Heritage High School and plays exceptionally well.

“She’s the sophisticated and well-coached player,” Tom said. “She tells me where to stand and which way to go. As long as I do what she tells me, we do great.”

Kaira Smith, 13, was doing her very best to keep dad Darin Smith focused. It’s her fourth year playing. They’re from Colorado Springs. Darin played high school and club and college ball. There’s some salt in his salt and pepper hair popping up under his sun visor.

“I like playing with him, but he gets disgusted sometimes,” she said, as dad agreed. “He stays that way until we make a good play, then he’s better.”

Wandering around the Vail athletic fields Sunday, you saw hundreds of kids raised right. Dad dropped a volleyball or soccer ball or basketball or baseball or football in their cribs almost as soon as the doctor cracked the kids on their keisters.

That’s why when some kid hollers, “Dad!” or “C’mon old man!” every man in the place turns around and smiles.

It’s not easy, in this day and age, to raise good parents. But these kids’ dads seem to be turning out just fine.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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