As the Moffat County High School football team has been preparing for its playoff games the last two weeks, it has been without a key person more than half the time -- a head coach.
But there are no hard feelings between Kip Hafey and his players. In fact, it is just the opposite as Hafey's wife, Jill, had twin sons on Nov. 4.
"They've all been very supportive," the new father said. "The staff has filled in when I couldn't be there and the players haven't missed a beat."
Last week, Hafey came home from Yampa Valley Medical Center after his wife had given birth to find 250 diapers on his porch courtesy of his players.
"The only thing that the players asked of me was that I didn't give birth on a Friday or Saturday," Jill said. "Tuesday was perfect timing because we thought we could be home by Thursday."
Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned.
The first born of the twins, Ethan, was having some trouble breathing. He would have spells where his body would tense up, his breathing would stop and his heartbeat would slow down.
While Logan had been born with few complications, Ethan's unexplained problem kept the Hafeys in the hospital until his problem was diagnosed and he was better.
Ethan had gone almost two days Friday without any major problems so the doctors told the coach he could go to be with his other boys.
To the relief of his wife, Hafey left for Berthoud to be with his team.
"As a wife, you never want to see him miss one of the most important games of the season," she said.
Hafey rode to Loveland with his father-in-law as the team had left before he was cleared to leave. The trip was stressful and was something that he had never anticipated when he first learned his wife was pregnant.
The due date was originally early December, after the football playoffs were over. The Hafeys learned that often twins are born premature and then Jill was prescribed bed rest in August.
"That is when we realized that there might be a conflict with the playoffs," the new mother said. "But I never had a secret wish that he and his team wouldn't make the playoffs. Nothing could be better than two new healthy babies and a state championship coming to the house about the same time."
Several hours after coach Hafey got to the hotel were the team was staying, he received a call telling him Ethan momentarily stopped breathing again.
"The doctors said that it wasn't anything major," he said. "But that didn't mean I didn't have trouble sleeping that night. I was ready to go back if I needed to."
Ethan made it through the rest of the night and morning without any complications so his dad dressed and went to the game.
After a 25-0 win against Berthoud, Hafey could be seen wiping some tears from his face.
"It had been a stressful week," he said. "With the win and knowing things were better with Ethan, I was just thankful and overwhelmed at that point."
Meanwhile Jill, Ethan and Logan were trying to get updates of the game in Steamboat.
"Steamboat was playing at the same time so I would ask every once in a while if they could change the radio for scoring updates," she said.
The voices on the radio were the familiar and comforting voices of her father-in-law, Steve, and brother-in-law, Wade.
"If they hadn't have broadcast that game, I would have been a wreck," Jill said. "After a while everybody knew that Kip was the head coach of Moffat County so they were friendly about that."
Generally newborns are given a cap at YVMC that reads "Steamboat Baby." They made an exception for the Hafey twins.
"They gave them hats that didn't say anything," Jill said. "They told us if they could have found ones with Bulldogs, they would have
Coach Hafey returned to Steamboat Springs as soon as he could after the game.
He stayed at the hospital with his newborns and his wife until Ethan was cleared to go home eight days after being born.
The five pound, 14 ounce Ethan and five pound, 15 ounce Logan are now at home. Ethan is on oxygen and is taking medication for what was eventually diagnosed as a neurological problem.
"He was premature by almost a month and he hadn't developed enough for his brain to recognize what he needed to do when he had reflux," his dad said. "So he would clinch up and stop breathing because his body hadn't learned what to do yet."
As Ethan and Logan settle into their new home, their parents are grateful for the way everything turned out.
"Our church, parents of the kids, and our family made us meals and everybody was great," Kip said. "Our faith and trust in the Lord helped us tremendously as well."
As far as Jill is concerned, everything isn't over yet.
"I had the babies on a Tuesday so I upheld my part of the bargain," she said. "Now the guys need to go out and win a state championship."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.