One of the best things about this job is, besides getting paid to watch and write about sports, the relationships you build with the people you run into on a regular basis.
Wether its fans, players, parents, administrators or even other media members, you can't help but to become familiar and friendly with people when you cover a team on a semi-regular basis.
Something I've learned over the years is that coaches, especially coaches that last, tend to be high character people. It takes a special brand of person to put in the hours and the amount of personal sacrifice it takes to be a leader of young athletes on the high school level.
These coaches aren't getting rich, and the amount of pressure they're under and the criticism they take is a lot of times unjustified. But yet they still go out there, season after season, and try to mold these young kids into champions on and off the field.
During my more than 20 years covering high school sports in Colorado, there probably isn't a school that I've covered more than Legacy.
As the sports editor at MetroNorth Newspapers in Adams County, I covered the very first sports events the school held when it opened its doors in the fall of 2000. Legacy quickly developed into a premier sports school, so I often found myself making the trek back to Broomfield, whether for MetroNorth or as a stringer for the Rocky Mountain News, and later for BoCoPreps.
Two faces always remain a constant there, and they quickly developed into two of my favorite people in all of sports -- Dawn Gaffin and Wayne Voorhees.
I had known Dawn for several years, covering her teams at other schools before she joined Legacy. She's a great coach, tough as nails but with a big heart, and her resume in softball is without equal in Colorado.
I didn't know Wayne as well when Legacy opened. He was an assistant on the first football staff under head coach Dominic Capra, who was something of a local legend in Adams County, having coached at Northglenn (leading the Norse to the 1984 state title) and Horizon.
Capra was one of the kindest people I've ever met. When I was a young reporter just starting out, he went out of his way to help me out, and not just because of our shared Italian heritage.
Capra remains one my favorite people ever, and he'll never know how much his kindness meant to me back then. Because around the same time he was helping establish Legacy, he was also battling a rare form of leukemia.
When the disease became too much, and Capra had to step down, Voorhees took over the reigns of the Lightning. He had played under Capra and he embodies many of the same qualities of his mentor.
Coach Capra passed away in February of 2007.
During his 14 seasons at the help, Voorhees has kept Legacy on the path that Capra had set, and the Lightning have developed into a team that is always competitive and always a factor. Even in down years, Legacy remains a club that other teams don't look forward to playing.
I bet I've spoken to Wayne for a story more than 100 times over the years, and easily that many times when there was nothing to write about. He's always honest and quick with a joke and I always look forward to seeing him.
So when the news broke Sunday about the horrific crash involving the Legacy football team that killed the driver and sent more than a dozen players and coaches to the hospital, one of my first thoughts was "I hope Wayne's OK."
Turns out he wasn't. He was one of the three coaches that was taken to the hospital in critical condition. The good news is that Voorhees was back home by Tuesday evening, and tweeted out a message of thanks to all his well wishers.
All indications are that he'll fully recover and he'll soon be back on the sidelines, leading the Lightning and helping teach young athletes to be better men and women.
It was something coach Capra was great at. And it's a legacy that Wayne has continued on with the Lightning.
News and notes
• The Skyline football team has some of the best looking home uniforms around but, man, are the numbers hard to see from the stands. Black numbers with just a thin red outline on dark gray jerseys. Luckily I was sitting next to an assistant coach with a pair of binoculars or I would have had no idea who was doing what on the field in last Saturday's win over Coronado.
• Still, those are some really sharp looking unis.
• Legacy quarterback Alec Lewis, a junior, set school records for passing attempts (39), completions (23) and passing yards (297) in the loss to Chino Hills.
• A mercy rule in boys and girls basketball is one of the items the CHSAA Board of Directors will vote on at the October board meeting. The proposed rule is if a team is up by 40 at the end of the third quarter, the fourth quarter would play under a running clock, only to be stopped for injuries or timeouts.
• Centaurus grad Allison Ebersole became the Hesston (Kan.) College career scoring leader after scoring a hat trick against Pratt Community College on Tuesday. Ebersole has 29 goals in less than two seasons with the Larks, eclipsing the mark of 28 set by Midaela Zook last season.
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