High Points: We are the champions!

Paul E. Anna
High Points

So, things in the world have been a bit grim lately. It seems like we are back to the 1980s with war, inflation, gas shortages, etc. all dominating the news. Locally, the sale of the Lift 1 property hit like a ton of rubles. And all of that comes on the anniversary of the COVID closures and the pandemic, which began two years ago this week.

That’s just one reason why the Aspen High School boys basketball team’s winning the 3A state championship this past week is so special. Their commitment and drive to the title, despite the difficulties of their quest, is just so … admirable. It makes us all proud to be from Aspen. A feel-good story if there ever was one.

The Skiers not only won the 3A championship, but they did so with a 27-0 record. Do you have any idea of how hard that is? If you are watching March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournament that started this week, you may know that no college team has gone undefeated since, get this, 1976 (Indiana 32-0). In the NFL the feat has been achieved just once and that was in 1973 when the Miami Dolphins went 17-0. In sports there are champions, but rarely are there undefeated champions. But the Skiers did it. 27-0. Amazing.

“A perfect story” is how the Aspen Times’ Austin Colbert described it in his headline in Sunday’s paper, and for once that was not just hyperbole. The story included 10 seniors on the team who had played together for their entire careers, the change of coaches in August from Alex Schrempf, who in a five-year stint turned the program around before handing the reins to his assistant coach Cory Parker (a former Skier himself), to the passing of the mother of player Lucas Lee during the playoff run. Colbert’s story and the photos in this paper that he took at the championship were perfect as well, documenting the entire season as the team dug deep 27 times in their pursuit of perfection. Never before had the Skiers won a state championship in boys hoops. Until now.

Then on Wednesday, in an event that made Aspen feel a little bit like Hickory, Indiana, the subject of the film “Hoosiers,” the Skiers brought it all home for a victory celebration. It, in itself, was small-town perfection in a place that often feels like a global city. The mayor was on hand promising a city proclamation to come. Coach Parker, in his red and white Skiers cap with “27-0” on the brim, brought the championship plaque along with the net cut down from the final game. And the state champion Skiers golf and dance teams participated in the celebration as well, along with singers and band members who have been recognized as all-state in their fields. It was an unforgettable day.

Back in February 1980, when world events mirrored to an extent what is happening today, the members of the U.S. hockey team brought happiness to the entire nation by winning the gold medal at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics. In their own way, the Skiers have done the same for our community with their commitment. Leave it to the young to bring us happiness.