$@&!ing Mbappé…

Love him or hate him, there sure have never been many like him…

Five. Five $@&!ing goals.

He’s a wonder. Possibly utterly unique.

And I kinda hate him.

You pick your people, you know? And somewhere along the way, several years back, I fell hard for Lionel Messi, another otherwordly talent in soccer who just doesn’t seem to have any love lost when it comes to his Paris St. Germaine teammate. But the talent in Mbappé? Unimpeachable.

Don’t run away, this isn’t another soccer article, I promise. I also kinda $@&!ing hate Joe Burrow. But we’ll save why for another day.

Mbappé’s incredible and apparently offputting-to-me masterwork sent me wandering off into the wider world of sports, searching for something that made my heart feel a little better, when I stumbled across this article in my hometown newspaper extolling the news of a milestone in the career of the legendary Bruce Dick, head coach of the Fort Collins High School boys’ basketball team, who has capped a 40-years-and-counting career with his 700th career victory. An astounding feat for a man who has won a state title, league titles, and undefeated seasons. Think a coach can’t be a difference maker? The Lambkins brought Dick in a year and a half ago after a 2-12 season. This year, Collins is 9-2, and 3-0 in League play. In the interview, coach is brought to tears simply talking about what a privilege it is to get to do the job.

To put his achievement into any sense of perspective, only 19 coaches have cleared the 700-win marker in the NBA. Ever. Incredible.

There it was. My anti-Mbappé.

I soldiered on, looking for more inspiration amongst recent high school news.

I stumbled across a state championship win in boy’s football at the 1A level for the Limon Badgers, the apex of a 13-0 season. Undefeated seasons leading to state championships are not unheard of in high school sports, but Limon makes a habit of such things, especially the championships part. This last title made it a whopping 21 in the history of the school, an astounding nine more than the two 5A schools tied for second place (Cherry Creek and Fort Collins). The one year the Badgers didn’t win the title in the last five? The lost two years ago in the Championship to Centauri. That memory and distaste helped them when they found themselves trailing 14-7 and 21-14 in this last year’s title game, and powered themselves on to a 33-21 victory. 21 titles is an incredible feat at any level. But they still have some work to do… The New York Yankees have 27. At this rate, Limon football might just catch them in 2028.

Anti! Mbappé!

If you think that sort of success isn’t as valid at the 1A level, I disagree, but let me present to you the now-seven-times-in-a-row-Champion Colorado Academy girls lacrosse team, who just graduated five seniors who have never known anything in their high school careers but title success, something the last three graduating classes from the team can claim. Something in the water for coach Laura Sandbloom, whose Mustangs artfully handled Valor Christian 13-9. If Colorado Academy can tack one more on, not only can Sandbloom claim two complete four-year squads to the title, but in comparing to the pros, it would tie the Boston Celtics for the longest consecutive title streak of any professional team in history.

That’s three, Kylian!

After name-dropping Valor Christian, it’s easy to remember possibly their most famous athlete, Christian McCaffrey, who spent his high school years playing for his Dad’s Eagles squad and racking up an astounding 8,845 all-purpose yards, good for nearly 300 yards closer than his nearest competition on the list. And then a few years ago a kid named Jace Logan from tiny Soroco Middle/High school went out and put up an astounding 9,111 yards in 8-man football over his high school career to easily claim that crown. While 8-man titles don’t tend to carry a running back to the heights a McCaffrey has seen, Logan went on in his senior season to also win a state wrestling title, play football at Wyoming, and go on to compete in rodeo.

Four heartwarming scores, Mbappé. One more, and I’ll feel a little more balance back in my universe.

Let’s talk about a sport that doesn’t see much light of day amongst viewers even at the professional level, a rather amazing feat happened in bowling a couple of months ago at the high school level. CHSAA has a yearly tourney of bowlers entitled the “Unified Bowling State Championships, which blends teams of students who are both abled and disabled, and also of mixed gender to compete for a scoring title. The top two scores for each team are blended for the accumulated team score. Something must be in the water down in Pueblo for their unified bowling teams, as they sent three of the 18 teams competing in the state championships – Pueblo Central, Pueblo South, and Pueblo Central – who went and took the first, second, and third spots in scoring with 594, 579, and 564 scores respectively. Think it’s just some weird anomaly in this year’s results? Pueblo South was the 2021 Champions, and the yet-unspoken Pueblo East the Champs in 2020. Might have to head down south and roll a few, see if someone might come by and give me some pointers.

How perfectly heartwarming. Five for me as well.

Should you similarly find yourself occasionally disheartened by the success of some super sport demi-god, I can only encourage you to take a similar foray into the world of lesser lights, but sometimes brighter stars. What a lovely way to find some stories of underdogs who were impossible not to root for.

Not what I thought I’d end up saying, but geez… Thanks, Kylian. Go score six more.


Mike Olson is a weekly columnist for DNVR. The Colorado State University alum was born and raised in Fort Collins and has been writing about Denver sports for the last decade-plus. After over a decade away, he is thrilled to be back in and around Colorado. No place like home.