• Mark Leffingwell / Daily Camera

    From left, Shelli Reading, Janice Charles and Kirsten Felton hold the state championship basketball trophy they helped win 30 years ago at Fairview High School. Fairview will honor the 1985 state champions tonight during a pregame ceremony.

  • Daily Camera File Photo / Daily Camera

    Members of the 1985 Fairview girls basketball team celebrate their victory over Pomona in the state championship game.

  • Daily Camera File Photo / Daily Camera

    Coach Carol Callan, left, and standout player Monica Kosenski talk during Fairview's state championship season in 1985.

  • Daily Camera File Photo / Daily Camera

    Janice Charles, left, goes up for a shot in the district final game against Montbello during Fairview's 1985 girls basketball state championship season.

  • Daily Camera File Photo / Daily Camera

    Fairview's Kirsten Fedge (now Felton), left, looks for an open shot against Pomona during the opener of the 1984-85 state championship season.

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The gymnasium banner remains an enduring reminder of the team’s remarkable achievement, the trophy and net holding down a revered spot in the school’s trophy case.

Yet for the leader of the Fairview girls basketball program’s 1985 state championship squad, it isn’t the awards and accolades, or even the pride-inducing hardware, that elicits a smile every time she thinks back to that spirited run. No, what makes Carol Callan beam are the memories of the maturity, dedication and selfless play that allowed the Knights to achieve something no other Fairview girls basketball team had done before.

Or since.

“It all seems so long ago now,” Callan said. “The maturity of those players is always what strikes me. A lot of them came in as sophomores and went right away onto the varsity. The way they carried themselves always stood out. They were committed to basketball, they worked hard at it, but there was so much more to them. They moved on to be successful in life and they were so much fun to be around.”

On Tuesday, Fairview will honor the 30th anniversary of that championship run during a pregame ceremony before the Knights’ Front Range League contest against Loveland. Callan, the women’s national team director for USA basketball and a radio analyst for CU women’s basketball, is planning to attend, as are at least six of the former players.

The ceremony has been an ongoing project for Fairview girls basketball coach Rod Beauchamp, who always regretted being unable to put together an event for the team’s 20th anniversary.

“Each season, we look at that trophy in the case and we know that’s our ultimate goal,” Beauchamp said. “I haven’t gotten to know them as well as I’d like, but I think for the girls now those life lessons are something they’re going to take with them more than the wins or losses. Fortunately for them, they won the ultimate prize, but I think they would have had those lifelong lessons without winning the state championship.”

Fairview had been a contender the previous season, but a knee injury to leading scorer Monica Kosenski led to a quick playoff exit. Yet with Kosenski and the core of the Knights set to return for the 1984-85 campaign, the expectations were elevated from the very first practice. Adding fuel to the fire was that the Knights’ bitter rivals yet good friends from Boulder ultimately captured the 1984 title.

“I don’t think we ever talked about it,” Callan said. “Boulder was the defending champ and had their core back. Fort Collins had (future CU star) Tracy Tripp and they all were in our league. I don’t think we were saying ‘win state or else,’ but we definitely tried to create an atmosphere where if we worked hard, anything was possible.”

While Boulder remained a thorn in the Knights’ side throughout the 1984-85 season, Fairview hit its stride during the postseason stretch. The Knights earned a berth in the state tournament after late heroics from Kosenski led to a win against Montbello in the Class 4A district finals, setting up a dramatic tourney opener against Wheat Ridge.

Falling behind 20-8 early in the second quarter, the Knights finally shook off their nerves to outscore Wheat Ridge 52-20 the rest of the way, posting a 60-40 victory behind 24 points from Kosenski and 18 from Janice Charles.

“We were all pretty strait-laced, but Monica was the wild hair,” said team member Shelli Reading (formerly Velie). “Monica was the one who was a die-hard player, extremely naturally talented. She had the body of an athlete. She had the competitiveness. She was a quiet person, but she had fire like maybe no other. She would do whatever she had to do to get the ball in the hoop.”

Fairview took care of the Tripp-led Fort Collins Lambkins in the semifinal to set up a title-game date with Pomona — a team that may have done the Knights a favor by knocking off Boulder in the semifinals, and one that suffered a season-opening 29-point loss against Fairview months earlier.

It certainly wasn’t as easy for the Knights the second time against Pomona, but the 41-37 victory was undeniably more euphoric. Kosenski scored 10 of her 20 points in the fourth quarter and Charles added 10, but the Knights’ defense proved to be the true hero, limiting Pomona’s Gyda Jones to two points one day after she torched Boulder for 27.

“It would have been easy for them to get down in the Wheat Ridge game, but that goes back to the maturity I’ve talked about,” Callan said. “We just came to work every day and did our jobs and that was big for the time.”

That proved to be Callan’s final season as the Knights’ coach, yet it was just the start of a remarkable career that included a successful stint as Fairview’s athletic director, during which she hired a couple of Fairview stalwarts in football coach Tom McCartney and baseball coach Rick Harig.

Although Kosenski died tragically shortly after college, many of the members of the ’85 Knights remain close while living with their families in the Boulder area. Earlier this winter, Callan and several team members re-watched the grainy video of the title game, and Tuesday’s reunion is sure to rekindle previously forgotten memories.

“We’ve all remained such good friends,” said Charles, who remains extremely close with Kirsten Felton (formerly Fedge) and Reading. “Those two, I call them my 2 a.m. friends, because I know I can call at any given moment. Lord knows I’ve used those tickets before.

“But especially with Carol and the discipline she instilled, I think at times we resented it. But the older we got, the more we respected and appreciated what she taught us.”

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