Roger Marolt: And it settled upon the land

Roger Marolt
Roger This
Roger Marolt

A year or so ago, there was the prospect of the Aspen boys winning the state basketball championship. Hope spread, announcing its coming slowly, bringing joyful calm upon souls becoming aware one by one. Hearts pounded with excitement, each resisting anticipation, the surprise of what it was hinting at being something bigger than what imaginations can usually come up with, even in the middle of the night.

The mind quits explaining so not to spoil rich mysteries unfolding, and we are glad for that. Something big is happening, not in the way of a thing overwhelming and, thus, easy to describe, but rather more in the way that routs self-centered thinking so that we are no longer merely alone in our thoughts in this world, but bonded like tiny and marvelous snowflakes, together whitening the landscape that we are able to touch, leaving cerebral footprints momentarily in what we will eventually commit to our memories, if the wish comes true.

I first heard the basketball team was going to be “pretty good” at a football game while making small talk running the chains last fall. “You really think we got a shot, huh?” A nod with squinted eyes and raised cheek. Knowing. Afraid to say it out loud.

There’s one snowflake, and then another, and then they begin to fall in earnest. Doubtful droplets are silently convinced, bonding gradually as they descend onto this destiny. Others more readily dive into the whole settled onto ground that all will occupy just this once together. The landscape becomes clean, white, bright, a signal of goodness, purity and hope. The discarded cigarette butts, empty pop bottles, and poorly attended bits of trash in the barrow ditch beside the long, hard road are covered for the moment.

It starts with one snowflake, one easy to miss, one that nobody could specifically identify, but by grace it somehow is noticed by nature, and we begin hoping for, but certainly not expecting, the divinely orchestrated calamity of a blizzard camouflaged in inspiring silence, to morph into an event to cleanse the land and give us a fresh start, to remind us what it is like to dream again.

This was the beginning of the basketball season that will forever mark Aspen as the best in our state at something we are not expected to excel in; if not in reality, at least in the way I want to remember it. There was the winter and then there were our local boys, waving joyously from the windows of the team bus, parading the Colorado state basketball championship trophy down Main Street for the first time ever, and, perhaps, exactly when our town needed it most.

For two years and counting we have been overwhelmed by sickness, worry, anger and despair. We didn’t interact with each other and forgot how to do something we assumed natural. Instead, we judged. We yelled. We shunned compromise. We oftentimes saw each other as objects; a wall, a club to swing at fate, or just something to smash on the ground in frustration. We were not ourselves.

And a team of boys, fast becoming men, came together to show us what we had forgotten. They faced all the COVID fears, doubts, depression and inconveniences society at large did, even more magnified, perhaps, being students during this crisis. Within the team they pulled together tighter when teammates and coaches faced personal tragedies. We will never forget the student body in the Skier Dome donning No. 3 jerseys supporting a player who lost his mother the evening between home playoff games. The photo of the head coach, who had suffered recent loss, too, tearfully hugging that player after the final buzzer sounded on the perfect season is an image worth treasuring. This was a model of a team working purposefully together, a thing so rare in life as of late.

This was spectacular. It was exactly what we needed in a world where nobody seems to believe anything anymore. We now believe in the unbelievable because we saw it happen. Twenty-seven wins and no losses. A state basketball championship. A team that won it all, together.

The snows will melt under the spring sunshine. Everything covered by the brilliant white will be uncovered again. And yet, it won’t be the same. The melted snow will seep into the ground beneath our feet and a more vibrant and colorful world will reveal itself. The boys won this one for us, even if they didn’t know it. We are forever grateful!

Roger Marolt know when we say sports are life, we don’t really mean chips and beer. Email at