Trading Places

A high-profile ESPN reporter chucks it all to become a low-profile schoolteacher -- and he couldn't be happier.

"It's a six-step program," he says. "One, we're on time. Two, we use our time wisely. Three, we trust and respect our parents and teachers. Four, we trust and respect our teammates and friends -- and to me, every class is a team. Five, we trust and respect ourselves. And six, we get better here."

Principal Shean says Cyphers is as good an exemplar of this last dictate as any at Holy Family. "You hear about synergy a lot, and with Steve coming into our middle school, I've really been able to see in action how powerful that can be. He's got this dynamic energy and such a positive attitude. He's really created his own whirlwind with the middle school, and everyone is so upbeat about the possibilities."

He's also brought along a ringer from the family. Pete Cyphers is a former Grand Junction High School football standout who was serving as assistant quarterbacks coach at nearby Mesa State College when his big brother hooked up with Holy Family. Before long, Pete had become an adjunct to the Holy Family faculty. When he's not schooling QBs at Mesa, he's teaching physical education to students in kindergarten through fifth grade and assisting Steve in his coaching duties.

Powerful stuff: Steve Cyphers on the job at Holy Family Catholic School.
Chad Mahlum
Powerful stuff: Steve Cyphers on the job at Holy Family Catholic School.
Hoop dreams: Cyphers coaches Holy Family's basketball teams.
Chad Mahlum
Hoop dreams: Cyphers coaches Holy Family's basketball teams.

Pete's support is much appreciated, since Holy Family, with a student body of just 341 (and fewer than 100 students at the middle-school level), is competing against much bigger public schools. "They have the A team, the B team and the C team," Shean says. "We have one team. We're all in it together."

Steve may not be a member of this group forever; he hasn't rejected the possibility of coaching one day at an area high school. But in the broader sense, he has no intention of going very far, no matter how much money he could make if he went back to quizzing sports immortals on ESPN.

"After CU played CSU this year, a good friend who lives in Seattle called me," Cyphers allows. "He said, 'This is the first day of all those college games you used to cover, and I was kind of worried about how you were doing. I thought you might be struggling.' And I said, 'I just watched CSU beat CU on TV, then I went and fed Dad's cows, I got the lawn mowed, and now I'm watching Pete's team play Western Oregon -- and Carolyn and the kids are right here. What am I struggling with?'"

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