August 27, 2013
By Barbara Baker
When it was recently announced that Patty Childress of Aurora was the recipient of The Denver Post’s 2013 Dave Sanders Colorado Coach Award, Northeastern Junior College Athletic Director Marci Henry took special interest. So much interest that she took time to investigate and found that three of the recipients of this prestigious award are former Plainswomen. Among the 13 winners of this award are Northeastern alumnae Patty Grimes Childress, Sue Snyder and Pam Fagerland.
The award is presented in honor of William "Dave" Sanders who was a hero on April 20, 1999, the date of the worst tragedy in the history of American high schools. The 47-year-old teacher and coach, a Columbine High School faculty member for 25 years, helped get numerous students to safety before he was killed, along with 12 teenagers, by student gunmen.
In honor of his commitment to young people, notably girls’ athletics, The Denver Post presents an annual Dave Sanders Colorado Coach Award. In accordance with the Sanders family, including his widow, Linda Lou Sanders, The Post recognizes a high school coach who not only has longevity and success in the ranks of teaching and coaching but also outstanding character. In 2000, Sanders was awarded an ESPY and the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. He was honored posthumously with the first Post award in 1999.
Childress, originally from Limon, was honored for her longtime excellence coaching volleyball. She has led Grandview to eight Class 5A finals, including state championships in 2004, 2005 and 2007. Now 51, she's come a long way from the little girl growing up in Limon not sure if she would get a chance to play sports like the boys did. Upon graduation from Limon High School, Childress came to Northeastern Junior College in 1980-1982 to play volleyball, transferring on to University of Northern Colorado where she also played. Her coaching career included time at Idalia, a move to Washington state, Palisade and Mesa State before settling in at Grandview in 1998 to start its volleyball program. She quickly turned the team into a Class 5A power and has compiled a 426-152 record, including 10 appearances in the state semifinals.
The 2012 recipient of this award was Sue Payne Snyder of Simla, a longtime rural figure and volleyball coach who was also at Ellicott at one time. At the time of the award, she had a career record of 570-142 with two state championships. She has turned Simla into a small-school powerhouse during her 29 years. The Cubs had won two state titles and had finished second five times when she received the award.
Snyder received the Colorado High School Coaches Association Don Descombes Distinguished Service Award in 2002 and was inducted into that organizations Hall of Fame in March 2013. Fondly referred to by so many as “Mama Sue”, she attended NJC in 1977-1978 where she played volleyball and basketball going on to finish her education at Adams State.
In 2005, Pam Fleming Fagerlund, the volleyball coach at Flagler for 29 years, who enjoyed a 536-170 record (the second most-winning volleyball record in Colorado) and won four Colorado small-school titles, was presented the Sanders Award. Fagerlund was originally from Lorenzo, NE. She came to NJC in 1973 and graduated in 1975. She went on to UNC to earn a bachelor’s degree and later earned her master’s degree from Adams State College. Fagerlund was named Coach of the Year in 1997 and in 1998 won the State Farm Top Coach of Women’s Athletics award. She was chosen as the All-Colorado Coach of the Year in 1997 and named the National Federation State Coach of the Year in 2001. She was awarded the CCGS Helen McCall Award for Promotion of Girls Sports and was recognized by the State Volleyball Tournament with the CHSCA Pioneer Award for longevity in the coaching arena. She was named Denver Post Coach of the year multiple times and Rocky Mountain News Coach of the Year two times. She was also inducted into the Colorado High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011.
“I think this speaks so well about the quality of athletes we attract, educate and send out into the world,” says Marci Henry, athletic director at Northeastern. “Many of our athletes, women and men, have gone on to do significant work in their lives. For three of the recipients of this prestigious award to have spent time on our court as Plainswomen, is just really a nice testament to the program we have here.”