Remembering Lauren Mutter with laughter and love
What: Celebrate Lauren Mutter’s life
When: 4 p.m. Friday
Where: Vail Christian High School’s Grace Auditorium
More information: VCHS students who played on teams Lauren coached are encouraged to wear their warmup shirts or jerseys. Coaching you meant the world to her.
Cody Brown interned for the Vail Daily when Lauren Mutter was coaching soccer at Vail Christian High School.
I made assorted rules for Cody when he went to games, which included introducing himself to the coaches of a contest before the game started.
So Cody went up to Lauren and said, “I know you babysat for me, but Chris is going to check if I did this, so I’m Cody Brown from the Vail Daily and I will be covering the game today. Would it be OK if we talked after?”
When I called Lauren to confirm that Cody had acted professionally and introduced himself properly, she just laughed and laughed.
You remember that laugh.
What do you say when something like this happens? Lauren, 31, and seemingly in the prime of her life, died on Saturday. There is no rational explanation. There is no satisfying answer to why. You’ll tie yourself up in circles trying to do this.
‘She just exuded joy’
So back to that laugh. It was just pure joy, and it seemed to touch all who came in contact with Lauren. She even laughed when I said “Hello, Mutter,” all the time when I saw her. (Yes, I’m a sucker for a corny joke, and she humored me.) And, holy cow, she touched a ton of people in her 31 years.
The outpouring on Facebook alone has been amazing — current students, alumni of Vail Christian, parents of said students, college friends, people she met through Eagle County Young Life, people who worked with her in her professional career at Vail Christian and during her burgeoning fitness career and on and on.
“She just exuded joy,” said Barbara Wilson, who coached Vail Christian girls soccer with Lauren. “Everyone felt like Lauren cared about them.”
A cynic might think that no one could be that outgoing and upbeat, yet that was Lauren.
And it started early when she was a student at Vail Christian, Class of 2005. She played volleyball and basketball for the Saints and soccer for the Vail Mountain School. (A reminder, folks, there was no soccer team at Vail Christian at the time.)
Speaking of Vail Mountain School, Lauren was on the first Vail Christian volleyball team to beat Vail Mountain back in 2003. This may not seem like a big thing now, but the Gore Rangers had throttled the Saints for years and this was one of those turning points in the history of the program.
Longtime Vail Christian volleyball coach Cathy Alexander recalled: “I just don’t know how to explain Lauren. She was the funniest kid. I don’t think she ever got in trouble. She was just a pleaser. She worked hard as an athlete a captain and a leader. She wasn’t afraid to take on responsibility.”
And that flowed off the court as well. The Mutter household was the de facto spot for team dinners when Lauren played and later coached with Alexander.
“We know that island in her kitchen well,” Alexander joked.
In the winter, it was Saints basketball, and, come spring, Lauren suited up for Vail Mountain School soccer and was on the first girls’ team to wear orange in the spring of 2005.
Returning to Eagle County
Lauren was somewhat a fan of Baylor. OK, a huge Bears fan, having earned her undergraduate degree in Waco, Texas. She got her postgraduate degree from Kansas State and returned to Vail Christian as part of the administration and as a coach.
Returning to Saints volleyball and soccer was a natural. In soccer, Lauren was instrumental in keeping the program going after some rough years.
“From the outside, it may have seemed like it was all about the fun, the music, the (bus) rides, and the dinners,” Wilson said. “But when you were in the middle of a game, you could see how she was a critical thinker. She understood the game so well.”
This really isn’t a surprise given that she had played for Bob Bandoni at Vail Mountain School, and the Bandon pretty much echoed Wilson’s sentiments.
Then there was volleyball. Having played for Alexander, she coached with her. Just like soccer and the halls of the school, she became a big sister to pretty much everyone, including Alexander’s daughters, Kylie and Taylor.
Last fall, Lauren was pressed into the position of varsity head coach.
“That was a proud moment, watching her coach,” Cathy Alexander said. “She was making the decisions I would, but she’s the opposite kind of coach of what I am and it works. She blossomed into her own coaching style.”
That is praise from Caesar.
I don’t remember if I told my father that I loved him during our final conversation before he died of a heart attack back in 2006. It’s likely I did, but I can’t say for certain.
From perusing Facebook the last few days, lots of people who knew Lauren feel the same way. With those posts have come #livelovelaughlikelauren. Not only is it alliterative, but it’s time to turn that into action.
As Lauren’s all-too-brief life has shown us, we don’t know how much time we have, so there’s no time like the present. Tell the people in your life that you love them. Guys, if this is awkward — and it can be — try the bro hug.
So to start, we love Lauren’s family, Mike, Terry and Caitlin. We can’t begin to imagine how you are feeling or what you are enduring. We can tell you that we’re here for you and we thank you for sharing Lauren with us.
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It’s fitting that Eagle County is proceeding through its reopening phases of COVID-19 in an analogy to ski run difficulties — green to blue to black. Monday marks the transition from the green beginner phase to the blue intermediate phase.