Valley remembers longtime high school basketball coach, player Dick Vidakovich

Dick Vidakovich, a basketball coach and teacher in RVF, passed away in car accident. Community takes some solace in knowing his last day was spent doing some of the things he loved most.

Dick Vidakovich, circa 1980 upon his acceptance of the head basketball coaching job at Basalt High School.
Courtesy of Peg Vidakovich

Family, friends and former players for longtime Roaring Fork Valley basketball coach Dick Vidakovich are taking some solace in knowing his recent death was following a day doing some of the things he loved most.

Vidakovich, 67, died Aug. 12 when his vehicle went off a curve and down an embankment on the New Castle-Buford Road around 10 p.m. that night as he was returning home to Glenwood Springs from a day in the Flat Tops.

He was the only occupant of the vehicle, and died of blunt force injuries sustained in the crash, according to the Garfield County Coroner’s Office. 

“It was a pretty peaceful last day,” said his nephew, Jahvea Vidakovich.

He said his uncle had gone up to the family property to do some elk bugling with a herd he knew to be up on the ridge. Before that, he caught some fish and had a little fish fry with his neighbor.

“He definitely loved fishing and hunting up there,” Jahvea said. “Whenever I’d go out hunting, he’d say, ‘Jav, I’m rooting for the deer.’”

A star high school basketball player in Buena Vista, Jahvea said it was his Uncle Dick, a former player himself and longtime coach, who taught him to be a good free-throw shooter.

“I was just a bull-headed kid playing basketball, and he changed my game,” Jahvea said. 

To this day, he holds the single-season free-throw shooting percentage record of 85.8% at Chadron State, where he made 139 out of 162 attempts his senior year in 1996-97.

In his own playing days, Dick Vidakovich helped lead the 1972 Glenwood Springs High School Demons to a 24-1 season record and the Colorado state consolation championship.

After attending and playing junior varsity basketball at Colorado State University, he returned home to teach and coach in Glenwood Springs and Basalt.

Vidakovich coached the Basalt High School boys basketball teams from 1980-89, including three Class A state championship game appearances for the Longhorns in 1984, 1986 and 1988.

He then succeeded his former Glenwood coach, Bob Chavez, as the Demons coach in 1990 when Chavez retired, leading the Glenwood boys to two district titles and two state tournament appearances from 1990-98. 

Vidakovich was named League Coach of the Year three times for Basalt and twice for Glenwood Springs during that stretch.

Paul Cain played basketball for Vidakovich at Basalt and is now the district athletic director for the District 51 Schools in Grand Junction, overseeing some 300 coaches.

Dick Vidakovich with his niece, Shay.
Photo courtesy of Mike Vidakovich

“The way I model what I want to see from my coaches is what coach V did for me,” Cain said. “He was just a stable force in my life, and provided great motivation. He had high expectations, but he reached a lot of people that way.”

Cain went on to be a first-generation college student, and credits Vidakovich for leading him down that path.

“He taught us the game, but he also taught us respect, and I’ve had a lifelong relationship with him as a result,” Cain said. “When I think of what a coach should be, I think of the impact coach V had on my life.”

A complete obituary appears in the Wednesday Post Independent and online at


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