Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rachel Flatt brings back memories of Dorothy Hamill

I read this morning about Rachel Flatt's triumphant return to her Colorado Springs high school after winning the Ladies US Figure Skating Championship free program, and a berth in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver on the US Team. I bet some of the kids at Cheyenne Mountain high school didn't know much about Rachel before last weekend - they do now.

This brought back memories of when I was a 16 year old junior at John F Kennedy High School in southwest Denver in 1973. I saw an article in our school newspaper, the Statesman, about one of my classmates, Dorothy Hamill, who was about to compete in the US Figure Skating championships. I didn't know who she was - Dorothy was mostly unknown to the other students at Kennedy. I remember going to study hall and hearing during roll call the name "Dorothy Hamill" being called out by the teacher. "Oh yeah, that's the skater" I thought at the time.

Dorothy Hamill was not to remain anonymous very long. I remember telling my parents that a girl from Kennedy was going to be in the US Figure Skating championships. We watched her performance on ABC's Wide World of Sports that weekend as Dorothy nervously skated out in long pigtails (this was before her famous 1976 Olympics hairstyle). She finished behind Janet Lynn for the title and nervously rolled her eyes as she was interviewed by ABC commentator Dick Button upon leaving the ice.

After that weekend Dorothy was the new love interest of many teenage boys at Kennedy. My friend Pete was a hockey goalie at the same rink she practiced at, and told my friends and I stories of conversations he had with Dorothy. "You talked to her??!!! What did she say??" we would ask. Of course as a very shy, awkward math geek I had as much chance of a date with Dorothy as the Detroit Lions winning this year's Super Bowl. My friend Greg, much more athletic and popular than I, thought he had better odds. He waited patiently after one of Dorothy's local skating exhibitions to get her autograph. Greg, too, really didn't have much chance either of a Dorothy date (maybe as much chance as the Raiders winning the Super Bowl)

Dorothy Hamill did not stay at my high school for long. After that junior year she transferred to a private school as her fame grew. Over the years I would often tell friends "I went to high school with Dorothy Hamill!" as did many of my high school buds, as if we REALLY knew her (we didn't)

Dorothy went on to become one of the most famous figure skaters in US history. She also had her share of heartbreaks, going through 2 very public divorces and a battle with breast cancer. Sometimes I wonder if it was all worth it to her, or if she wishes she were that anonymous 11th grader again back at John F Kennedy High School.

Is there hope for the Buffs?

Things look dreary in Boulder these days when thinking about the future of Buff football. But when I lived in Louisville in the early 80's, when the team was struggling (1-10 in Bill McCartney's 3rd season) it was the same. No one back then could have predicted the Buffs would win a National Championship six years later.

To start the Buffs have to get rid of head coach Dan Hawkins. Just because McCartney struggled his first three years and eventually turned the program around doesn't mean that Hawkins will. The one thing McCartney had going for him was his amazing ability to recruit. Even in the 1-10 1984 season I was hearing good things about recruiting (which led to better years in the mid-80's). The people who follow college recruiting closer than I do say this year's Buff class is Hawkin's weakest and the worst Buff class in years. Unlike McCartney, Hawkin's recruiting classes seem to be getting progressively worse, not better.

This season is going to be a lame duck year for Hawkins - bringing him back for another year was a major mistake and delays the rebuilding project by one year.

But I do think there's still potential in Boulder to build a solid program, just like there was potential in McCartney's early years. Increasing the money invested in the program will help (see Neil Woelk's column about that). The next coach, like McCartney, has to be a great recruiter.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Power Of Twitter

Yesterday I was again reminded of the power of Twitter. I have several twitter accounts with one devoted to sports -

I check my twitter account several times a day and just before 4 pm on Monday I saw this one minute after it was posted:

@Jay_Glazer: i am reporting another shocker, mike nolan and josh mcdaniels have decided to "mutually part ways" in denver

I was shocked and disappointed with the news. I quickly checked the Denver sports personalities I follow and realized that Jay Glazer had a "scoop" here - none of the local reporters knew about the Nolan departure. I "re-tweeted" Jay Glazer's message and also posted it on two bronco "fan" message boards I participate in ( and - it was news to these bronco forums, too! By the end of the day more than 8,000 people had read my posts passing along the news!

As for the departure of Nolan, I've calmed down since yesterday. I was disappointed since Nolan did such a great job in rebuilding the defense in the Broncos first six games this past season. Upon further reflection, though, I remembered the defense at the end of the year (especially in the final KC home game and in the Oakland home game) resembled more Mike Shanahan's 2008 defense in its inability to stop the run. I read today McDaniels may hire Dean Pees of the Patriots as the new coordinator. Pees ran the Pats defense during the undefeated regular season of 2007.

In this Boston Globe column the speculation is that a Pees defense will feature less blitzes than Nolan's. I always have liked an aggressive, blitzing defense so I'm not thrilled with the change. However, I'm willing to give McDaniels the benefit of the doubt. As one bronco internet poster wrote "All we are saying, is give Pees a chance!"

There's alot of turmoil and changes going on at Dove Valley (with 3 assistant coaches already departing from the 2009 season). We'll see what the draft and free agency brings, but as of today I think the Broncos will have a hard time matching last season's 8-8 record in 2010.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Great Floyd Little Highlight Video

I came across this video on the web today. It's 20 minutes of Floyd Little highlights. If you never saw Little play for the Denver Broncos in the late 60's and early 70's, these highlights will show you what a great player he was. Floyd's induction into the Hall of Fame is long overdue.

Floyd Little Highlight Video from JT K on Vimeo.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year! My top ten Denver sports moments in 2009

Happy New Year! In looking back at 2009 it certainly was an interesting year in Denver Sports. Here are my top ten "moments" of Denver area sports in 2009:

1. Mike Shanahan fired by the Denver Broncos. Even though the Broncos missed the playoffs I didn't see this coming. Shanahan still had 2 more years on a lucrative contract and had built a good young offense.

2. Jay Cutler traded to the Chicago Bears. The man who was supposed to be the Broncos quarterback for the next 10 years was suddenly gone.

3. Rockies winning game 2 of their playoff series in Philadelphia. All the Rockies had to do was win 2 games at home to eliminate the defending World Series champs after this big victory. That didn't happen, but after this game it sure looked like a possibility. The Rockies even making the playoffs was one of the year's biggest surprises.

4. Nuggets winning game 2 of their playoff series in LA. Similar story for the Nuggets. With this win the Nuggets took home court advantage away from the Lakers and just had to win their home games in the series to oust the Lakers. For a moment it looked like the Nuggets had a legitimate shot to win their first NBA title before the Lakers spoiled things (winning 2 of 3 games in Denver that series)

5. Brandon Stokely's miracle td catch vs Cincinnati. Josh McDaniel's Broncos regime gets off to a great start with an unlikely last second victory on the road in the opener.

6. Broncos beat San Diego on Monday Night Football to go 6-0. Even though the Broncos were 5-0 headed into this game, the win over the Chargers surprised me the most of any game this season. Especially when you consider what happened after this game (the Broncos winning only 2 of their next 10 while the Chargers went undefeated for the rest of their games)

7. Brandon Marshall's td vs Dallas. In a tight 10-10 game headed into the final minutes Brandon Marshall pulled off his most impressive play of the 2009 season, leaping high to catch Kyle Orton's pass, then weaving his way through Cowboy defenders for the winning touchdown.

8. Joe Sakic's retirement on Avs opening night. The classiest retirement ceremony I've ever seen as my favorite Avalanche player of all time, Joe Sakic, is honored on opening night. I loved how the Avs had Sakic standing alone outside the arena then followed him as he walked into the dressing room, seeing all the avs wearing his #19 jersey, and then onto the ice to the cheers of the sell out crowd. The Avs followed with an upset victory over the San Jose Sharks that night.

9. Broncos beat New England in overtime. Josh McDaniels beats his mentor Bill Belichick in another surprising early season victory for the Broncos.

10. Broncos beat the New York Giants on Thanksgiving night. In their first Thanksgiving home game in 46 years, the anniversary of my first ever Bronco home game, Denver beats the Giants easily in front of a national tv audience. For a moment it looked like Denver had recaptured its early season form.