Champions, the Coal Porters and stocking stuffers

by Chris Aaland

My biggest passion for the past 18 autumns has been Fort Lewis College men’s soccer. When I was hired as sports information director at the Fort in 1992, Jeremy Fishbein was beginning his first season as head coach. It would be a rough one with a 6-9-1 overall record. Greg Jensen led the team with four goals, while the leading playmaker had just two assists … during the entire season. Compare that to the heroic efforts of David Barden, who had four goals in last week’s NCAA Final Four, or Tom Settle, who had three assists in FLC’s 8-2 semifinal win over Le Moyne, and you see just how far we’ve come.

But there were silver linings to that ’92 season. After several players rebelled against him and quit, Fish’s team won six of their final eight games. One year later, I stood on the sideline at Regis University as the Raiders (we weren’t called the Skyhawks until ’94) clinched the first of 13 league championships. That ’93 squad went 13-5 overall, 10-2 in league games: not bad for a third-year program.

The rest, as they say, is history. During my 10-year career in Skyhawk athletics, I was part of seven league championship teams, announced the ’99 NCAA title game from the roof of Barry University’s press box, filled in for Sarah Meier on the press table during her maternity leave (which mirrored the ’05 championship run) and played much smaller and infrequent roles in game-day operations since. I became one of the hooligans, a rabid group of fans populated largely by men’s soccer alumni and parents of former players.

Last week I opted not to travel to Florida, but to instead watch with the masses at the Irish Embassy Pub. I’ll always cherish attending two Final Fours in person. But they won’t match the intensity of the roar that several hundred people crammed into the Embassy’s basement unleashed when Barden headed the title-clinching goal into net with 12 minutes and change remaining in the championship tilt. Total strangers exchanged high fives, hugs, kisses, spilled beers and vocal-chord damaging screams. Then we jumped up and down for the final few minutes, cheering every touch, tackle and pass.

It’s my title. It’s yours. It’s ours. It’s every player who ever laced up the boots for the navy & gold, especially those pioneers who built the foundation in the early ‘90s.

Just as championship soccer has become an annual ritual, so has the Bar-D Wranglers’ Christmas Jubilee, which returns to the Community Concert Hall at 7 p.m. Saturday. Founded by Cy Scarborough in 1969, this group wrangles up Western music, cowboy poetry and humor. Cy hung up the guitar recently, but the current lineup of Gary Cook (a former national flat-picking champion), Levi Mullen (guitar), Matt Palmer (fiddle) and Joel Racheff (upright bass, mandolin, guitar, banjo) is a killer one. Lisa Blue, a popular local singer/songwriter, joins the Wranglers on-stage. Get your tickets early, as this one always sells out.

Motivator plays a benefit for the Jack Treinan Foundation on Sunday at the Abbey. Jack is a local teen battling leukemia.

Doors open at 7 p.m. with live and silent auctions and opening acts. Motivator’s set starts around 9.

Portland’s Ruins of Ooah bring their simple-but-unique mix of didgeridoo, harmonica and drums to Steamworks at 9 p.m. Friday. “Our goal is to embrace these qualities and use them to explore new musical possibilities while pushing the limits of our sound,” the band writes on its MySpace page. Expect plenty of roots music blended with progressive rock and breakcore.

The Summit’s lineup includes Finn Riggins with the Freeman Social tonight (Thursday), an acoustic happy hour set by Eric Keifer from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Thorn of Getchsen at 10 p.m. Friday, an acoustic happy hour with Rupnow & Friends from 6-9 p.m. Saturday and Gravity with DJ Benjamin K at 10 p.m. Saturday.

The Starlight features the Bob Hemenger Trio from 6-9 p.m. Friday, DJ Wreck at 9 p.m. Friday, DJ Peter Robot at 9 p.m. Saturday and Colin Rooney on Tuesday, plus regular weekly occurrences like Salsa Night (tonight), Musica del Mundo (Sunday) and Jonezy’s Club Meds (Wednesday).

The Kirk James Blues Band does three sets at the Purple Haze this weekend, starting with a 5-7 p.m. FAC, plus 8-midnight sets on Friday and Saturday.

CC&N (Larry Carver, Randy Crumbaugh and Nina Sasaki) are at Desperado’s Bar & Grill at 7 p.m. Friday, while Nina and Larry do a Sweeney’s set at 6 p.m. Saturday. Psychedelic Mojo returns to Steamworks’ Bayfield Beer Factory from 6-9 p.m. Friday.

Matt Robinson & John Toolan (with Darcy Cole) from the Spinning Wheels play three acoustic sets of originals and stylized covers at the Dolores River Brewery at 8 p.m., Saturday.

The final free show of the semester in the FLC Student Union happens tonight with Formula 151 at 7 p.m. in the solarium.

Last year’s Durango Bluegrass Meltdown featured, among other things, a rare U.S. appearance by England’s top bluegrass band, the Coal Porters. Fronted by Sid Griffin, who played a key role in the cowpunk/roots rock scene of Southern California in the ‘80s, the Coal Porters were in town to record an album with legendary producer Ed Stasium (best known for his work with the Ramones). The fruit of their labor is “Durango,” an album that will be released on Jan. 19. Tim O’Brien and Peter Rowan are among the guests.

This week’s Top Shelf list includes some other stocking stuffers you might want to consider:

• Tickets to the Community Concert Hall. The winter/spring season features Béla Fleck, Robert Earl Keen, Richie Havens and the Infamous Stringdusters, among others.

• A gift certificate to the 2010 Music in the Mountains festivals. Orders between now and Christmas will receive a free DVD recording of Verdi’s Requiem performed by the 2008 festival orchestra and the Durango and Telluride choral societies.

• “The Golden Age of Country” 18-CD box set. I’m a sucker for Time-Life infomercials. This behemoth includes legends and one-hit wonders from the ‘50s and ‘60s.

• The new Colorado Avalanche third jersey. I want my new baby blue to be an XXL with rookie Matt Duchene’s No. 9. •

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In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows