Today might be Friday the 13th, but I’m feeling lucky.
Lucky to live in a great sports state. Lucky to write about sports for a living. Lucky to work for a company that just made a big investment in the coverage of high school sports.
Yesterday, Mile High Sports acquired Colorado Preps LLC, a local company that’s been covering preps sports in Colorado for the past two decades. Kevin Shaffer, the founder, contributor, writer, photographer and chief bottle washer, will remain on staff, and the newest iteration of Shaffer’s baby – the newest member of the Mile High Sports family – kicks off effective immediately.
And I’m lucky to be a part of it. Perhaps more so, I’m proud to be a part of it.
Over the years, Mile High Sports has always placed a very high value on the coverage of high school sports. On a personal level, the preps have always been near and dear to my heart. I was “raised” on press row, as my dad, a 30-year employee of the Colorado High School Activities Association, would bring me to practically every state tournament there was when I was just a little fella.
“Stay here,” he’d say, even though I had no intention of going anywhere, glued to the action on the court in front of me. “I’ve got to go take care of something.”
He was working and I was watching. I wanted to be like those kids. Like Aurora Central’s Charlie Simpson. Like Evergreen’s Tanya Haave. Like Cherry Creek’s Jon Embree. And hundreds more; every year I had a new class of heroes.
Sure, I loved the Nuggets and the Broncos, but the high school kids were just cool. They were right there in front of me. They were larger than life in the eyes of a kid. What they were doing seemed attainable – all I needed was a few more years and a few more inches until it was my turn. Eventually my turn came, and I was fortunate enough to play sports at Northglenn High School for great coaches and alongside great friends – people who shaped me, people who I still consider some of my best friends to this day.
At some point during my dad’s tenure at the CHSAA they used to have a slogan. “High School Sports: Once in a lifetime, Lasting a lifetime.” When I look back 30 years later, nothing could be more accurate. The lessons I’ve learned from high school sports – watching them, playing them, covering them – have been invaluable. When I look back at what I’ve been lucky enough to call “my career,” one of the most significant and influential pieces of the puzzle has been high school sports.
I know that the average Coloradoan might not care about the score of the Cherry Creek-Cherokee Trail baseball game, the East-GW basketball game, whether or not Limon took home the 1A-11-man state championship in state football or who won the annual Mile High Sports “High School Rankings List.”
But I do. And others do, too.
What I’ve found is that the number of people who do care about each of those individual outcomes may not be as big as the attendance of a Broncos, but collectively, the number is bigger. Much bigger. And, fans of high school sports are every bit as passionate as fans of the Broncos, Avalanche, Rockies, Nuggets or Rapids. When it’s your kid, or your school, you care. Whenever I’ve written about your kid, taken photos of your kid, or talked about your kid, you’ve cared – a lot. And you’ve told me time and time again.
In a nutshell, that’s what Colorado Preps will allow us as a company to do. Included in the sale are ColoradoPreps.com and the radio and podcast network, each branch dedicated to sharing not only the scores and highlights but the stories behind the Centennial state’s student athletes, coaches and schools.
My friend and colleague Dan Mohrmann – who I consider one of, if not the, best prep reporters in Colorado – will be serving as the site’s Editor-in-Chief. It’s a massive job, but I know that Mohrmann and Shaffer will tackle it successfully and with full force. Why? Because they care. Covering preps for them has always been the prize, not a steppingstone on the way to covering the Broncos, Nuggets, Rockies or Avalanche. These are the stories they want to write. These are the athletes they like to cover.
Colorado Preps is more than some kind of passion purchase though. I truly believe there’s a need. There are some great story tellers in Colorado when it comes to high school sports; I just don’t think there are enough of them. With the number of kids playing high school sports in Colorado growing every year, and the number of minutes, pages and resources devoted to covering them shrinking every year, I’ve got to think the newest addition to Mile High Sports addresses a need.
Not only do schools and coaches and parents yearn for more coverage, but there are companies – big and small – who honorably support high school athletics. Their dollars might not capture as many eyeballs as a billboard along I-25 or the jumbotron inside Ball Arena, but the folks who notice their support rarely forget it. “You support my kid and his school? I’ll support your business.”
The Denver Broncos might win a Super Bowl from time to time. The Avalanche might hoist the Stanley Cup every so often. But every year, in every sport, there are new state champions. The vast majority of kids who play high school sports aren’t likely to play at the next level – and that’s why it’s so important to celebrate what they’re doing today.
Hopefully Colorado Preps, the newest member of the Mile High Sports Family, will add to that celebration.
It’s a lucky day. A proud day.