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Our ears were tuned in and we were glued to the radio station.
We could hear the fans getting louder and louder.
“Let’s go Pirates!”
“No, no, no.”
We echoed every sound and lived every moment with the players and fans.
We heard feet running down the court, the ball dribbled, and then the clock sounded.
The radio announcer was yelling, almost incoherent — “They went all the way … they went all the way!”
It was so exciting we had tears of relief, joy and sheer exhaustion after sitting on the edge of the couch and holding our breath through the whole game. We felt as if we were there on the bleachers jumping up and down with the parents, coaches and fans.
We were a part of history in our little town of Pagosa Springs. Boys’ and girls’ basketball teams had fought for their places at state.
Rumors were heard that the opposing teams felt Pagosa’s basketball teams were overrated. Well, there is nothing overrated about making it to state!
In the day when history was made in Pagosa Springs, we were all winners. Some stayed in the background; some felt they let themselves down, as well as family and the town; some rode the victory bus home with the golden ball, and one got to say, “Pagosa Springs boys are number-one state champions.”
Facebook, texts, phone calls and e-mail spread throughout the town. On Sunday, the good fans of Pagosa were already planning a victory parade to welcome everyone home from state. Bright yellow signs, cars and trucks decorated with balloons and flags were waiting for the big yellow bus. The Press was there with notebook and camera.
Several cars met the bus at the top of Wolf Creek and followed the procession down the mountain. The boys were still on the top of a mountain of success as they followed nine police, sheriff and patrol cars down Hot Springs Boulevard.
It was a sight to see: the basketball boys were smiling and hanging out of the bus windows as if they had come home from war. Honking cars full of excited fans were trailing behind.
As soon as the precession passed, we fans jumped into our cars and raced to the high school. The parking lot was full of cars and other fans waiting to share in the victory celebration with the boys.
Everyone strained their necks to catch a glimpse of the faces of the boys and the gold ball. This ball would be transported into the Pagosa Springs High School trophy case to be put with the other trophies and pictures of past students.
I recognized one of the girls from the basketball team in the crowd. She was holding back tears remembering her team’s one defeat, while she smiled because of the boys’ victory. My heart went out to her.
I suppose she was thinking that the girls’ team didn’t get to ride the escorted bus, weren’t met at the top of Wolf Creek Pass by their fans and didn’t come home to a parade. I want to assure her that the girls fought their way, game after game, and were good enough to go to state. They are winners in this town. It’s hard to see it at the time, when others are getting the attention.
How many of you who listened to the radio coverage know the man behind the voice? I would venture to say few know Chris. On the postgame show, he said, “I have been doing this for seventeen years. I have never had the opportunity to call a state championship game and say ‘Pagosa Springs, number-one state champions.’ This is the highlight of my career.”
Fifty-three was the magic number. The winning coach, Randy Sorenson celebrated his 53rd birthday. Pagosa Springs had not brought home a state team championship for 53 years, and they won 53-49.
Final brushstroke: Eighteen young men will never forget this moment. They will talk, brag and hold on to their youth remembering this monumental day. They experienced how it felt to be winners. No one can ever take that away from them. Just ask the men who won it in 1960.