Best Coach — College 2008 | Kathy McConnell-MillerUniversity of Colorado Women's Basketball | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Kathy McConnell-Miller faced a tough task when she took over as the Lady Buffs' coach in 2005. Not only did she have to replace legendary predecessor Ceal Barry, but from a talent standpoint, the cupboard was bare. During the three seasons since then, however, the team has improved from respective records of 9-21 and 13-17 during her first two years to a 16-14 mark and a bid to the National Invitation Tournament to cap her third. Better yet, she's got a large returning cast, with just two seniors on the 2007-2008 roster. The onetime powerhouse is on its way back to respectability, and McConnell-Miller is a big reason why.
In April 2007, when Clint Hurdle received a two-year contract extension, a significant portion of the Rockies nation was agog. In most major-league cities, doubters argued, a skipper with a putrid .447 winning percentage would have been given the heave-ho, not guaranteed employment for two more seasons. But Hurdle proved his worth during the roller-coaster campaign that followed, keeping the team from cratering during the dreadful early months and preventing players from losing their heads after the wins began piling up. Critics may gripe about some of his in-game moves, but his good humor and prodigious skills as a motivator and communicator make him the right manager at the right time.
The combination of singers Britney Spears and Whitney Houston sounds nightmarish, given that both performers have turned into walking/talking versions of E! True Hollywood Story. But the basketballing Spears and Houston make a much more effective pair, with Brittany, a freshman, ending the 2007-2008 season as the Lady Buffs' second-leading scorer, and Whitney, a sophomore, providing steady play off the bench. Of course, ESPN produced a segment on the pair because of their famous monikers, not their ability to dribble and shoot. But if things keep going the way they did this season, they'll soon be making names for themselves.
The Crush boasts a seasoned quarterback, John Dutton, and a corps of effective receivers, including Brad Pyatt, a University of Northern Colorado product who's returned to the state where he got his start. Still, the reason for the organization's popularity remains a man who hasn't played a down for the team: co-owner John Elway. Number 7 is a relentless salesman for the Arena Football League in general and the Crush in particular, as the team's website acknowledges: A photo of Big John gets more prominent play on the home page than anyone currently wearing a helmet and pads. Fans can't see him throw touchdown passes anymore, but sharing an arena with him is the next best thing.
There comes a time every winter when you reach the brink of madness. You've had enough of snow sports and snow in general, and you just want to put on shorts and play in the sand. A trip to The Island is what you need. With year-round indoor sand volleyball, it's as close to summer as anything you're going to find in Colorado during the winter months. The food is good, and cheap. The drink specials are plentiful, the people are friendly, and there's lots of action to take in. While Denver does have a cult-like group of serious players who eat, sleep and breathe volleyball — playing every night in clothing straight outta Margaritaville — casual players are welcome, too. They can opt to play backyard-style 6 on 6 instead of the ultra-competitive and exhausting 2 on 2. A lot of the action is league play, but drop-ins happen most days. The Island serves up summer all year round.
If you're already the kind of skier who wakes up before sunrise to beat traffic and be the first in line for the yet-unopened lifts, this deal might be worth a shot. For an extra $20 a day above your lift-ticket price, or in addition to your season pass, you can load the American Eagle lift fifteen minutes earlier than your cash-poor peers and get the day's very first fresh tracks. The extra $20 will also get you into Copper's version of HOV lanes at the American Eagle, American Flyer, Super Bee, Excelerator, Kokomo, High Point and Timberline Express lifts for the rest of the day. It's a good way to buy time and spend less of it in line.
Because Copper Mountain hides more than 50,000 Easter eggs throughout the Village and the mountain, other hunts don't stand a chance when it comes to sheer scale. But since there are 50,000 eggs, the kids can't possibly gather all of them...right? That's why Copper holds specialized hunts for different age groups — so the smallest searchers can still have a chance to find some colorful ovals hiding in the grass — but the all-ages hunt lasts all day long. This year's Largest Easter Egg Hunt was March 23, but you can start gearing up for next year. Note: You don't need a lift ticket to participate. Sounds eggstremely eggscellent!
Not that there's ever a good year for driving I-70 to and from the mountains, but this seems to be an exceptionally bad one. Either the traffic is stop-and-go, cars are sliding backward on the ice coating the uphill stretch from Silverthorne to the Eisenhower Tunnel, or the road is shut down completely due to blowing snow. But fear not — there is an escape! On a good I-70 day, this alternate route would be foolish, as it adds a good hour to your drive. But on a bad day, it can save you — if you have four-wheel drive, that is — from wasting hours sitting in traffic or, worse, getting stranded. You simply go the long way. From Breckenridge, stay south on Colorado 9 and go over Hoosier Pass. Twenty-two miles later, you're in Fairplay; from there, take U.S. 285 for seventy miles north to C-470 near Morrison and you're practically home. Meanwhile, the cars you left in your dust haven't even made it to Georgetown.

Best Example of the Rockies' Off-the-Field Chutzpah


A lot of us got carried away when the Rockies temporarily entered the can't-lose zone last fall, including the folks in the team's marketing office, who announced their intention to trademark the term "Rocktober" to commemorate the playoff run. Apparently, they forgot that both Denver dailies had splashed the word across their pages, or that rock radio stations have used it in promotions since time immemorial. But Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert knew better, chiding the team by putting mini-Red Sox helmets on KISS action figures in a Rocktober crèche and suggesting that the Rockies try to lock up the term "Choketember" instead. That was a funnier gag than the real thing.

Best Guess for When the Colorado Rockies Will Return to the World Series


In spite of the cohesion, the positive attitude and the talent, the Colorado Rockies will suffer from a 2007 playoff hangover in 2008. But in 2009, with several of the core pitchers and position players now signed to multi-year deals — and Matt Holliday playing for big bucks and a new contract — the Rox will overpower the rest of the National League and head back to the World Series. Now, let's play some ball!

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