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A golden moment at Golden Peaks Stadium

The Pagosa Pirates are a winning football team.

They are headed to the playoffs this weekend. They stand 7-3 overall, with only one loss in league play.

There are many elements that are factored into making a winning team and league champions.

A golden moment at Golden Peaks Stadium prompted me to call David Hamilton, Principal of Pagosa High School. He was overjoyed with the up and coming game this week, but quickly reassured me that being a winning team was more than chalking up points each week.

The secret was the way the coaches work with each individual student.

One such student is a young man by the name of Christopher Brown, who proudly wears number 65. He listens to the plays and relays them to the other players, his winning spirit is infectious.

During each practice, Coach O’Donnell sets up special plays for Christopher, a special needs student at the school. A bond has grown between Christopher and the coach.

Brown loves the Denver Broncos; his pride and joy is a Bronco helmet. When Coach O’Donnell came into his classroom one morning, Brown’s Bronco helmet was placed on the coach’s desk. After a phone conversation with Brown’s mother, he learned that Christopher no longer wanted to be a Denver Bronco player but said he wanted to be a Pagosa Pirate.

Brown’s Bronco helmet was traded in for a Pirate’s helmet and uniform with the number 65. Brown is officially a part of the Pirate team.

Coach O’Donnell made a call to Bayfield’s coach. They made plans to set up a play with the Bayfield players and would train them to run a play for Christopher.

On a brisk, cool afternoon, with the golden peaks in the background, the fans of the Pirates witnessed 65 running the field for a touchdown. It brought the fans to their feet.

This is Christopher Brown’s story and his moment of glory.

“Number sixty-five suit up, you’ll be playing today!”

On the bleachers the fans sat anticipating the final score at Golden Peaks Stadium where the Pagosa Springs and Bayfield junior varsities were going head-to-head. The score was 8 to 6 in Pagosa’s favor. The young men from both teams were playing hard.

On the sidelines, never to play in a game, always at practice and known for his team spirit, there was Christopher (you may recognize him from half time), diligently preparing for his big chance. Number 65 was watching as he had done at every game. He proudly wears the black and gold Pirate football gear, he hears his name, he places his helmet on his head and is going into the game.

Breaking from the huddle, both teams lined up, the play was called. The ball was snapped, Sixty-five is carrying the ball. He is running down the field, the team is guarding him as he makes his way to the goal. The fans are on their feet. Sixty-five is running his heart out.

The unsuspecting fans begin to yell, “He is going to make it. Go, go, go, sixty-five!” The banners are held high and tears are running down cheeks. He has made a touchdown. Cheers, stomping and applauding fill the stadium.

My daughter leaned over to me and said: “Only in Pagosa would this happen.” A chill came over me; it isn’t the first time something like this has happened, but that day we experienced a rare moment that we will never forget.

The big encompassing heart of Christopher Brown, Number 65, represents the people and heroes in our little town of Pagosa: the teachers and coaches; their respect for the other coaches in their league; their insight and love for the students; and their endless hours in training and practice. They are teaching the students to be well-balanced, productive human beings, with heart. It’s more than a game for them —it’s being good role models and growing good kids.

Also, there are the fans of Pagosa Pirates, bundled up in their black and gold long underwear, who at this time of year travel the only road through Pagosa to end up at Golden Peaks Stadium. They follow their team wherever it plays. Each week, they gather on the bleachers and cheer for their heroes, the Pagosa Pirates.

Then, there is the winning team, the Pagosa Pirates — our sons and grandsons who hit the field running and training and practicing after school until dark. They have an inner drive pushing them to play the game with their whole heart. They take the blows each week and it has paid off.

They are headed for the playoffs.