Just to start things off, what high school did you attend and what sports did you play?

I went to Holy Family High School, Class of ’87. I played a year of football, three years of soccer, four years of basketball, a year of track & field.

Damn, that’s a lot. How many letters did you earn?

I earned two in hoops, three in soccer, one in football, and one in track.


Dude this school was tiny.

Describe yourself as a high school athlete.

As a high school athlete, I was an overachiever in every which way. I was a much better athlete in my own mind – always have been, always will be.

How big were you in school?

I was always smaller. I was always the smallest kid. Put it this way, I was always the kid who was kneeling down in the front when you would take the team picture, kneeling down looking forlorn, like God didn’t give him enough.

What was your fondest memory from high school sports?

My signature moment was in a football game when I caught – I’ll never forget it – I a post pattern and as I was getting to the goal line the guys were going to catch me. I wasn’t fast enough. And I just stopped. And for some reason, two guys ran past me and I just sort of walked into the endzone. I made it look like I meant to do it. I really didn’t, but I just didn’t know what to do at that time and it made it look like it was a really cool move.

What was the best thing about being a high school athlete?

I think the best thing about being a high school athlete is that you get to hang around guys in a forum that is not school. You get to interact in the locker room. You get to exchange ideas. You get to learn about discipline, and teamwork, and all of those clichés that coaches bring up – and it’s all true, because its all life lessons, and you learn it in the field of play. It’s competition, man. Life is a series of competitions and I think that’s what sports do for you – it teaches you how to compete.

That’s an interesting take, because I feel like people are trying to take the competition out of everything these days, especially at the younger ages.

It’s the wrong thing to do. You’ve got to know how to win and lose. You’ve got to accept defeat. If you can’t accept defeat on a sports field? It’s just sports, right? If you can’t lose in that, how are you going to lose in the boardroom? How are you going to lose in the emergency room or when you’re doing some type of accounting project or whatever your walk of life is? If you don’t know how to lose, how to fail, how to bounce back from failure – I mean, that’s hard to do. That’s what playing sports does. Sports gives you a way to learn all of that. It gives you an ideal platform to practice success and failure.

Any one game or moment you’d like back?

I missed a key free throw my senior year in the district championship game with about 13 seconds left. We were down by one and I went to the free throw line for a 1-and-1, and I remember thinking to myself, “I got no chance.” And I had no chance. We end up losing by one point. It’s one of those free throws that lives in the back of your brain for the rest of your life. When you’re at a free throw line, you have time to think. You know what I’m saying? The thinking screws you up.

In your job now, you seem to give a lot of coverage to, and have a lot of interest in, high school sports. Why is that?

I wish we could do more high school sports coverage, I really do. We don’t do nearly enough because I think what happened in high school sports coverage – television coverage or newspaper – it has become a cottage industry. And the development of the Internet has changed everything. To me, doing 20 seconds on a high school game on a 10 o’clock show is not going to give the viewer enough. The viewer wants more, the fan wants more, and they are going to get more on the Internet, and that’s what it’s done. The Internet is good and bad for high school sports coverage. It’s bad because it doesn’t allow us as broadcasters to do as much as we’d like. I know my station does not do as much as I’d like, but the Internet has really opened up a completely different forum in giving high school sports a vehicle that it deserves. I mean, I am on the Internet right now on my Twitter account and I follow high school basketball via twitter and I am getting more coverage, I’m reading more about it now than I have over the last 15 years. It’s great.

To really appreciate high school sports, do you think you have to be local?

You have to have a community tie, there’s no doubt about it. High school sports remains a community project – if you have no association, if you have no memory, if you have no understanding, then it’s hard to have that appeal. It’s hard to have an association or an identity. You’ve got to have that romance, right? I grew up when Cherry Creek was dominant in every sport. I grew up when Montbello was winning basketball championships, and George Washington, too. You grow up with that stuff and it’s sort of a romantic notion in the back of your brain so it’s never going to go away. People who don’t grow up here, how are they going to know that? How are they going to know the history of high school sports? When you don’t know that, when you don’t have that association, it’s hard to be interested. I get it. Being a native, being a Colorado kid, I will always follow high school sports until the day I die. I always will. Because I played it, I lived it, and I loved it.

Don’t you think where someone went to school, or who they played with or against, defines them forever? Especially for natives?

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve run into in this town when they find out I went to Holy Family, and they went to Denver Christian, or Lutheran, or wherever, and we’ll automatically have that association – “Hey, you’re a Metro League guy.” It’s always going to be there, and it’s very few and far between anymore because there aren’t as many natives as there used to be. But the other thing, when I interview athletes, professional athletes, big time professional athletes, it’s amazing how many of them, when you ask them, “What’s your greatest athletic memory?” it’s amazing how many of them point to a high school memory or game. Even the great ones, they still have those memories in high school that are so pure and so important to their development, that they’ll never forget it. Ever.

Who have been some of your favorite high school athletes over the years? Guys you looked up to as a kid? Guys you played with or against? Kids you’ve covered?

I have big, great memories. Chucky Sproiling scoring – what was it, 74 points? –against North. Yeah, that was the stuff of legend. That was like epic proportions. And the fact that it happened only a few blocks from my house, we talked about it for days, weeks, months on end. You know here’s a guy pre-three point line, and he put up David Thompson-like numbers. So names like that you never forget. The legend of Dave Logan – he was older than me, but still, growing up on the west side near the Wheat Ridge area you always heard about Dave Logan. And the older you get, it is just so cool to see high school kids that you covered make it big in the pros, like Roy Halladay. I saw him in high school, and the guy wins Cy Youngs. It’s just so cool to see them grow up before your eyes. I remember a local guy like Brad Pyatt, who played for Arvada West. Man, that kid was a great athlete; he goes on and plays at UNC and then all of sudden, next thing you know, he’s returning kickoffs for the Indianapolis Colts! And to this day I am friends with him. I play golf with him all of the time. It’s crazy. When I see him, all I see is a kid playing football at Arvada West, I don’t see him as an adult. When I see Chauncey Billups – other people see Mr. Big Shot, people see a Nugget, people see a very sophisticated man – I see Chauncey Billups throwing the ball off a guy’s back when he’s playing for GW at old McNichols Arena. That’s what I see.

What’s the best prep sports story you’ve ever covered?

Who could forget Josh Adams and the tip-in? I remember showing the highlights of that and I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing, that this kid was so athletic and could make that play at the end of the game. And then again, I’m just proud to watch him play in college at Wyoming because he did it at the high school level here and carried it on over to college. And that’s just one example. I’ll give you an example of a great story –I think one of the most heart-felt stories I’ve ever done, or at least story that meant the most to me. I grew up playing high school basketball at Holy Family. We played Denver Christian, and they had a legendary coach who ended up being the winningest coach in Colorado basketball history. Everybody knows Dick Katte. And at the time, my greatest win as high school player was against Denver Christian when they were ranked No. 1. Well, here we go years later, some 20-25 years later, I’m in the gym at Denver Christian, Dick Katte Field House, and I’m doing a story with Dick. I spent the whole day with him – on coaching his final game at DC and what he meant to that small school, what he meant those kids, what he meant to the sport in Colorado. It was just so cool to spend some time with him to re-visit the old days and to understand what he meant to Colorado high school sports. Here’s a guy – growing up he was a role model – you would idolize and now I’m doing a story on him. It just felt so weird. I felt out of place to be honest.

You have a son who now plays basketball at D’Evelyn. What it is like to have a son now competing at the high school level?

I feel very sorry for my son because his father gets paid to criticize athletes. I mean, think about that. My job is to be critical of athletes and coaches. How would you like to be the son of somebody who’s paid to do that? Because everything he does comes with criticism. Every move he makes, every game he plays, he knows he’s going to hear it from me afterwards whether good or bad. And I try to hold off. I try to watch what I say because my intentions are good. I’m trying to be a father, but at the same time when I was growing up, my mom and dad never cared about my practice sessions, they never interrogated me after a game, they never asked any of that which I think made sports more fun for me. I need to learn how to back off and allow him to have sports be fun and not have it be a job. I think that is the biggest mistake parents make, especially parents who played high school sports, they try to live their lives with their kids, and sports is unique, sports is personal. It means something different to them than it does to you. The longer it takes them to understand that, the tougher I think it is to have a relationship with your high school kid because it’s their sport. It’s not your sport; it’s their sport.

What’s been most fun about watching Dante get into prep sports?

“Well there is a fun part. I got to coach my kid and coaching your kid is hard enough as it is because it’s tough enough being a parent, now you’re trying to coach your own son. But the coolest moment I can remember with my kid is when we won a Gold Crown championship in basketball and he was on my team, and I’ll never forget the celebration afterwards. We ran onto the court; we won in dramatic fashion, and I picked him up off of the ground and I just said, “God, I’ll never forget this for the rest of my life.” And I told the kids that day, “I don’t care how old you are, you will never forget this for the rest of your lives.” So that’s a moment. To be able to share a victory and a celebration with your son, that’s as good as it gets.

How do you and Dante compare in terms of playing high school sports?

My son is one of those rare breeds where he plays sports, but he doesn’t live and breathe sports – like I do. He doesn’t follow it like I did. He doesn’t make it his life like I do. So he just plays it – just to play it, just to enjoy it. I played it and I ate it up. A lot of his teammates, a lot of his friends who are like-minded like me where all they do is live, breathe, and die sports, they don’t understand why he’s not the same way. And I’m sure he’s not the same way because his dad is. You know? Sometimes you want to be different and so I get that. That’s probably his situation now and he loves it. My daughters are the same way. My daughters are both involved in athletics. I’ve got a gymnast who’s a young, really good gymnast. And I’ve got a soccer playing daughter. So I’m critical of them as well. I’m sure they get tired of hearing from their father. They’ve got to just enjoy sports.

Do you think there are pressures on high school athletes that guys like you didn’t have to face back in they day?

Yeah I think there is way too much pressure on some of these kids who think that they have to get scholarships. You know, there’s specialized sports. There are too many parents out there who, I think, inherently give their kids that pressure that, “Ok, I spent all of this money on you to learn this sport; I spent all of this money on this club coach, all of this money on the club teams, , we expect something in return.” They may not say it, but I think they feel it and I think the kid feels it. High school sports, it’s supposed to be there to have fun. It’s not supposed to be there so you can save money going to college. If that happens, great. That’s a bonus for everybody involved. But if your intent, your job as a parent is to make sure your son or daughter is coached up so that you can save a couple of bucks in college, I think that’s a problem.

Has the game – or games – changed? What’s the same? What’s different?

I just think that today’s high school athletes are better. They are better in every sport because they’re getting better coaching, they’re getting more coaching, and they’re getting more specialized coaching. When I played that year of high school football, when we would kick field goals, hell, we taught ourselves how to kick field goals. Now they have field goal kicking coaches. They’ve got guys kicking 55 yarders like its nothing. If we hit a 25 yarder, we thought, “Look out, we’re the next Garo Yepremian.” It’s remarkable how much better young athletes are because they are getting more and more coaching. My kid, one year in eighth grade, in one year played 85 basketball games. I don’t think I played 85 basketball games my entire life. He played that in one year because of club teams; there are teams galore. So they’re playing him more. But you know what they don’t do that we used to do? Playing pick-up stuff. I remember in the summers growing up away from high school we would go play pick up basketball at the playground up on Federal, the lights were on at night and that’s where you would learn how to play. We would go to the rec center and you would play against the older guys – “the old men” we would call them, although they were in their 30s. Half of them were still in jail or were parolees or were just crazy, but that’s where you learned how to play. I can’t remember seeing a kid playing a pickup game. I don’t think my kid has ever played a pickup basketball game. I’ve got the sweetest basketball hoop in my driveway –the best you can buy –I can’t remember the last time I saw my kids shooting on it.

From your perspective, what’s the best thing that Colorado high school sports has going for it in 2015? And the biggest potential issue?

I wish there were more games. I wish high school basketball had holiday tournaments for instance. I don’t like the fact that they limit the amount of games there are in basketball. Other states play more games; we need more games. I don’t like some of the recruiting practices that take place, not just for the private schools but for the public schools too. They’re both guilty of it. I think everyone’s guilty. I mean you can point to certain schools and say, “yes,” but every school is guilty of recruiting in some manner. Those are the things I don’t like about high school sports. The thing I do like about high school sports in this day and age is that more people are playing. Girls sports have become so prevalent and prominent. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I believe Colorado produces more scholarshipped basketball girls and soccer players than they do guys. I think the fact that there are more girls playing high school sports is tremendous.

How do you think high school sports shaped you in your career?

“Well, I think when you go back to the competition, it taught me how to be competitive and why competition is important. When I was in high school I had a teacher by the name of Marty McGovern and I wrote for the school paper as the sports editor and he taught me, basically, how to write and he gave me the bug – to say the least – on journalism and about covering a story, and finding the best story, and what makes a good story, getting creative with a story. So I guess it all started there. It started in high school. I had to do a story on my very own basketball team! So it was unique and odd, but that’s where it all started and that’s when I knew that this is what I wanted to do.

What’s your best advice to high school athletes?

My advice to the high school athlete? Soak it up while you can. Be as committed as you possibly can. Don’t take it for granted. I think too many high school athletes show up, and then give up too early. “Oh the coach doesn’t like me. Oh I’m not getting playing time because so-and-so is better than me.” But why is he better than you? But why doesn’t the coach like you? You can answer those questions yourself. You have to find a way to make the coach like you. You have to find a way to get better at that game. Because guess what? Those same questions later in life are going to creep up outside the sporting field, and you’re going to have to find a way to answer them.