Gunning for a victory

Local youth coach Steve Ivers determined to defeat lung cancer

It was a phone call Steve Ivers wasn't expecting, at least not that day.

"We were at my mother-in-law's funeral when the doctor called and told me that I had lung cancer," Ivers said. "The doctor told me that I was in stage 4, and the cancer was in my back."

The diagnosis has sent shockwaves through the Yampa Valley, and an outpouring of support from the region has Ivers looking at the positive side to this deadly disease.

"I set a goal for 15 years," Ivers said. "I want to walk my daughter down the aisle, and see my kids graduate. The reality of it is, I'm not going to die of old age. But I've lived a good life."

A little stress relief

Working for Twentymile Mine for the last 10 years has been Ivers' daily routine, but nine years ago, he decided that he could use a little stress relief from the everyday rigors of the mining business.

"I didn't think I could handle kids," Ivers said. "But to see a child smile is something special. It's awesome."

Ivers has been coaching youth baseball in Craig for nine years and also has been an integral part of the youth hockey programs in Craig, coaching for eight years, including both his children -- Brittney, 13, and Brentten, 11, in numerous sports.

"I volunteered at the hockey arena a long time. Monday through Friday, I was at the rink four hours a night with the kids, coaching toddlers all the way up through high school," Ivers said. "I just wanted to try and build character in the high school kids and try to remind them that it's just a sport, and we're supposed to have fun."

Ivers' dedication to the youth of Moffat County has proven to be a blessing in disguise for the 35-year-old man.

Yampa Valley family

Ivers has only known for a month that he has cancer. But, it didn't take long for communities to chip in and show Ivers how much they appreciate what he's done.

"My husband (Mark) and Steve have coached hockey and football for a long time," Shannon Samuelson said.

Samuelson, along with Nancy and Larry Seams, are organizing a local golf tournament to benefit the Ivers family. On Aug. 4, Steamboat Golf Club will play host to 96 golfers, with a barbecue to follow. All the proceeds will go to the Ivers family.

"We know Steve from hockey and through his sister," Nancy said. "Doing something for Steve was discussed in an e-mail, and we live on the fifth hole of the golf course, so that's how this whole thing got started. The golf course has been very generous in reducing the green fees for us."

Ivers, who is limited in activities, is looking forward to the golf tournament.

"I'm going to try and golf three or four holes," Ivers said.

With the overwhelming support he's received, Ivers is at a loss for words.

"You can't say anything but 'thank you.'"

The golf tournament isn't the only fundraiser the family will be attending in the coming months. Because Ivers is the president of the Craig Softball Association, there will be a softball tournament on Sept. 25. A dinner and auction for the Ivers family will be held at the hockey arena in conjunction with the tournament.

"This is something that the kids wanted to do for Steve and show how they feel about him," said Jackie Roberts, one of the event's organizers.

Ivers and his wife, Holly, have been married for 15 years and will soon take a family vacation to Florida.

"I've taken a lot away from my wife over the years," said Ivers. "We've never been on a vacation where we weren't doing something with sports."

This time around, Ivers is ready to go with the flow.

"There's no agenda, we're just going to relax," Ivers said.

Long road ahead

Ivers will be heading to St. Mary's Medical Center in Grand Junction, three days a week to the begin his cancer treatment. After going to the MD Anderson Clinic in Houston, Ivers said that he could get the same care at St. Mary's and would not be too far away from his family, which is important to him.

"They can give me the same treatment in Grand Junction as in Houston, and I didn't want to be far away from my family, so that's why I decided to go to St. Mary's instead," Ivers said.

Ivers is open and willing to talk about his cancer to anyone who asks.

"If people want to know how I'm doing, I want them to ask me," Ivers said. "Don't ask my kids, 'How's your dad?' Ask me."

Ivers said that the diagnosis has been particularly hard on his son.

"I'm his dad. I'm his rock. Dads are supposed to be Superman, and at times he sits there and wants to hear that there's going to be a miracle, but I can't guarantee that," Ivers said.

"My daughter is a smart little girl and she's treating this in her own way. She knows that Dad could go at any moment, but she's not going to sit there and dwell on it.

"The sun comes up every day, I tell my kids, and if you're not going to learn something new every day it's not worth getting out of bed.

"No matter how bad you think it is, the sun is going to come up every morning."

Melanie McDaniels can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or mmcdaniels@craigdailypress.com.

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