Craig Gary Tague sits hunched at a desk too small for him, eating his usual salad lunch while alternating peeks between the newspaper and his computer.
The Moffat County High School math teacher, track coach and Craig Middle School football coach is catching up on regional track results from the past weekend.
For 30 years, Tague has spent his lunch breaks this way.
But, his routine is about to change.
Tague announced in November he is retiring at the end of the school year.
Or, as he describes it, moving in a "different direction."
"I'm just moving to something different," he said. "To me, it's not even really retirement. It's been 30 years. It's time for a change in my life."
Born in Gunnison, Tague entered Western State University upon graduation from Gunnison High School.
His college life was cut short in January 1972 when he was drafted by the Army.
He said he got lucky when he was stationed in Fort Carson as a military police officer who worked inside a prison instead of being shipped in to the conflict in Southeast Asia.
"It was really good timing," he said. "The company before me that graduated from MP school got sent to 'Nam. And then my company, none of us got sent to 'Nam."
After his two-year stint was up, Tague worked in drywall for a year before resuming his studies at University of Northern Colorado at Greeley.
He graduated in the summer of 1977 with a bachelor's degree in math and physical education.
Tague's first coaching position came the following fall.
As a student teacher at Brush High School, he was the Beat Diggers running backs coach for the varsity football team.
"We went all the way to the state championship game that year," he said. "We lost the title game to Roaring Fork, but it was a fun ride, let me tell you."
He married his wife, Mary, in the summer of 1978 and the couple moved to Craig.
Tague became a math teacher and assistant track coach at MCHS, and Mary a second-grade teacher at East Elementary School.
"It was nice for the both of us, being teachers and all," Tague said. "We liked the small town and how everybody knows one another. We ended up staying."
Tague was awarded the boys track team coaching position in 1982, the same year Mary gave birth to the couple's first child, Amy.
"That's when we started having kids," Tague said. "We have four."
Tague took over the boys track team in '84, as the couples' second child - April - was born.
Mary resigned as a teacher at East, but her will to teach remained.
Two more children - and a lot of home schooling - followed.
"We home-schooled all of our kids," Tague said. "All the way through. We saw a lot of advantages to it. The individualized instruction."
Tague said he has been teaching his kids - and others kids - for "a really long time. It's time to move on."
He'll stay on as the CMS football coach and he said he's considering taking over for the departed Rod Compton as the radio voice of the Bulldogs during football season.
"I'll never step away from coaching," he said. "I will be long gone from teaching before I stop coaching, that's for sure. It (coaching) is just plain old unadulterated fun."
He said it's a "toss up" when thinking about who learned more in his 30 years - him or his students. He'll have plenty of good memories while he's thinking about it, he said.
"One of the biggest things is I've heard from dozens of students about the impact we've had on their lives. That, hands down, is what it's all about."
Tague said that comes with the territory when you've been in the business as long as he has.
"I've always thought, as a teacher and a coach, to be encouraging," he said. "Kids are kids. They are going to screw up, but you have to encourage them."
There wasn't a seconds hesitation when asked what he enjoyed more: teaching or coaching.
"It's the coaching," he said. "Bar none. I mean you can have a bond with the kids in coaching that you just can't have in the classroom. You talk on the long bus rides and you just get a lot closer to them."
Tague said he'll miss the camaraderie most.
"Especially with the other coaches," Tague said. "And, of course, other teachers, too, but again, you're closer to coaches than other teachers. I don't want to be that lonely guy who goes to Village Inn and gets coffee."
If he could have a storybook ending, Tague said it would read like this:
"As these guys go on in life, hopefully we pass the baton to them and they can pass it on to other people," he said. "Some goodness in their lives. Something that lasts a lot longer than picking up a medal."
John Vandelinder can be reached at 875-1793, or email@example.com