Rec team makeup binds players together
BRECKENRIDGE – In late October this year, something scary happened during a C League hockey game at the Stephen C. West Arena in Breckenridge. It was the result of a head-on collision between two players in full stride. One of the two braced himself for it while the other was blindsided. Jan Tolar never saw the contact coming and the back of his head slammed against the ice.Tolar was out cold for just a moment, but no one knew it. He sat up, clutched his wrist and squirmed in pain before leaving the rink.Later, in the locker room, his CC&S Construction teammates found Tolar in a bad way. Forget about what day it was, for his memory span was less than 10 seconds. “Did we win? Did I score? I remember nothing,” he said, with fear in his eyes. Before his teammates could finish their answers, Tolar repeatedly interrupted them with the same questions he’d just asked.”He needs to get to a hospital, right now,” team captain Bruce Buller said. The fun and games had come to a screeching halt. Things that mattered took over.Tolar spent the next two days in a Denver hospital, recovering from a severe concussion. His hand was also broken, with surgery recommended. One of his teammates, Ales Cerny, never left his side while heading up a network of phone calls to keep CC&S informed of Tolar’s condition.A subtlety of this team had suddenly become blatantly obvious. It is a uniquely close-knit group of friends, bound together by otherwise meaningless sports.
Bonds beyond sportsA typical recreational sports team in this county consists of people brought together by a common interest. It’s a group that gets together once a week to play a game. When the season is over, goodbyes are exchanged and there’s little, if any, contact until next season – when the enjoyment of playing and hopes of winning are renewed.With the widespread athleticism and the transient nature of Summit County, dominant rec teams are rare. Teams that do excel every season are easy to recognize. Ullr’s of flag football and Fatty’s of competitive hoops come to mind. CC&S is not a team that stands out in the same way. In the seven years since Buller created the team – and sponsored it under his construction business’ name – CC&S has enjoyed only moderate success on the ice.But the squad is similar to hundreds of others like it in leagues throughout Summit. Not only does it bring together individuals from all walks of life, but the true successes of the team are the relationships that have formed, despite the diversity of the folks involved.
The charactersEddie Huchingson (center), one of the two original CC&S players as of this fall, has worked with Buller (defense) building houses on and off since before the team was formed. Huchingson, a.k.a. “Mr. Plow,” also builds houses on his own while not clearing driveways in the winter. Jay Koenkamp (defense) is a downhill mountain bike racer and works for Huchingson in construction.Tina Ell (wing) is the only female on the team and also races downhill on mountain bikes, at many of the same venues as Koenkamp. Chip Dunmon (goalie) is a close friend of Ell.Kevin “Boner” Scriboni (defense) and Chris Graner (defense) played hockey together in high school and currently live under the same roof in Silverthorne. Cerny (wing) and Tolar (wing) are Czech natives and joined the team three seasons ago. They wasted no time in endearing themselves to their new friends, as Cerny’s entrance to the locker room quickly became ritual. His trademark greeting, “What’s up, dogs?” is easy to anticipate, yet always invokes a laugh. “With that accent, it’s just so wrong that it’s right,” said Graner, who dubbed the two as “Hans and Franz” – which has stuck to them whether they like it or not.The two Czech players made an instant impact on the ice, as well, with tenacious fore-checking, beautiful passing and pinpoint shooting.”Those guys are like our Amp Line,” said Huchingson, in reference to the nickname once used to describe the top line of the Colorado Avalanche.
Rob Parker (wing) also is a relative newcomer in the last three seasons, and has had his own bouts with injury. His second shoulder separation in as many seasons occurred the week before Tolar was sidelined. Two of Parker’s teammates accompanied him to the hospital that night.Tom Balik is the newest member of the CC&S team. As the third Czech Republic native, he plays with the same intensity as the other two, despite an ailing back.Then there are the unofficial team members, a common feature within Summit’s rec leagues no matter the sport. For CC&S, a former roommate of one of the team’s players, Yvonne Watcher, comes to each game armed with a video camera. As a self-described “groupie,” the aptly named Watcher documents every play on tape. Buller has hosted more than one get-together at his home, where the team watches the recordings over pizza and beverages.Any and sometimes all of the aforementioned can be found together reminiscing over a cold one at a local watering hole, riding lifts together and even hiking for turns as late as July. Hockey season has become just another reason for them to get together.For its last game of the recent fall season, CC&S slid into the final playoff spot despite its injury woes. It had been more than eight weeks since Tolar’s injuries, and he chose that game to return to the lineup. While fully recovered from the concussion, it was still four weeks before the projected healing of his broken hand.”He wanted desperately to play and help the team, and he did even with the pain,” Balik said. “That’s how we are, you know. We stick together.”Matthew Duffy covers rec sports for the Summit Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.
Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User