Just call him ‘Bubba’ | CraigDailyPress.com

Just call him ‘Bubba’

Teenager juggles sports, family and the loss of his father

John Vandelinder
Brentten "Bubba" Ivers is a year-round athlete at Craig Middle School. The 14-year-old is following a path shown to him by his father, who died in May after a two-year battle with cancer.
John Vandelinder

It’s 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, a school day, and Brentten “Bubba” Ivers sits calmly with his hands folded in a makeshift trailer that doubles as the Craig Middle School administration office.

His quiet demeanor is surprising, considering Bubba is a 14-year-old uber-athlete who relishes the adrenaline of competing on a playing field.

Any playing field, to be precise.

Bubba is a year-round athlete, getting involved in any and every sport he can.

He’s the starting quarterback/defensive end for the football team in the fall, reading defenses as he leads his undefeated Bulldog team into the end zone.

He’s the starting center for Craig’s bantam hockey team in the winter, shrugging off defenders on skates while he blasts slap shots into the back of the net.

He runs the 100-meter dash for the CMS track team, anchors the 4×100-meter relay squad, and competes in the high jump and long jump in the spring.

And in the summer, he totes the rubber for the Bulldogs summer league high school baseball team, throwing a fastball in the high 70s.

To Bubba, sports come easy. It’s the personal issues he’s had to deal with that have been hard.

Despite all he’s accomplished as an athlete, it’s what has happened to him off the field, that has shaped him as a person and player today.

Rewind to summer 1996.

Bubba is a 2-year-old who can barely walk on his own, as he tags along with his father, Steve, to every sporting event he can.

Steve’s home away from home is the softball fields at Loudy-Simpson Park, a place where Bubba got his first taste of life in sports.

“I basically grew up on those softball fields,” Bubba says smiling as he remembers the old days. “My dad got me involved early. He used to pitch to me after the games so I could practice my hitting. That’s where it all started.”

And, the hits kept on coming.

He started hockey at 4 years old, football in the third-grade and track somewhere in between.

He began to play golf when there was nothing else to do.

“My dad was a really good golfer, too,” Bubba said. “He’d take me out in the cart and show me how to play. He really crushed the ball.”

To the young Bubba, sports were a way to spend as much time as possible with his father.

Swinging a bat, a hockey stick or a golf club, it didn’t matter.

To him, it was father and son having fun.

“My dad played everything,” he said. “I just wanted to be out there doing what he was doing. I wanted to be just like my dad.”

But, what Bubba didn’t know, was that his dad had something inside of him.

Something different than Bubba.


Fast forward to May 11, 2008.

Steve Ivers’ two-year battle with the disease has taken his life.

To many in Craig, it was a 37-year-old life taken far too soon.

More than 500 friends and family gathered May 17 inside field four at Loudy-Simpson Park to wish him farewell.

The same field Bubba learned to play baseball on.

The field that is now named after his father.

To Bubba, the loss was devastating.

Gone was his lifelong coach and mentor.

Gone were his father’s words of encouragement.

Gone was Bubba’s best friend.

“He was everything,” Bubba said. “I learned so much from him. He taught me how to be who I am today. At first, I didn’t know how to react. Nobody can make you ready for something like that.”

That day, the then 13-year-old boy, had to become a man.

He was now the lone male in his house, responsible for protecting his older sister, Britteny, and his mother, Holly.

“All of a sudden, it was just the three of us,” he said, admitting he immediately became more protective of his family, especially his sister who entered high school this year.

“If anybody messes with her, they may be bigger than me, but I’m still going to knock them out,” he said.

After all, it was his sister who gave Bubba the nickname he’s now known by.

“She couldn’t pronounce my name when she was young,” he says smiling at the memory. “She used to call me Brecken. So she started calling me Bubba.”

The nickname stuck.

Now a more confident man just four months after losing his father, Bubba knows his dad’s gone, has accepted the heartbreak and decided to keep on doing what his dad would have wanted.

Playing sports.

On Tuesday, Bubba played one half of football on defense against visiting South Routt County, flying around the field on his way to recording six tackles – five of which went for a loss – and a sack.

He played the star role in turning a 20-0 halftime deficit into a 22-20 victory.

What goes on inside his head during a football game, or when he’s sizing up a batter he’s trying to strike out?

“No matter what sport I’m playing, I think that there is no one better,” he said, his smile turning into a scowl. “My dad taught me to believe in myself. I know that before a game, he would be sitting there watching me. And, after a game, he would be there to tell me how good of a job I did. I’m always thinking of what he would say to me. I know he’s still watching, and I want him to see that I’m doing good.

“I know he’s not here, but I still try to make him proud.”

Bubba’s goals in sports are simple: to keep doing what his father taught him.

“He taught me my deadly stiff arm,” he said. “Coach Tague (CMS football coach Gary Tague) won’t let me use it in practice anymore because I hurt two people, but in a game I use it all the time.”

He plans on getting a college scholarship in baseball or football. It doesn’t matter to him in which sport.

As far as he’s concerned, he’s the best at both.

“When I’m pitching, I always think I’m going to strike you out. You aren’t going to get a hit off of me,” he said. “In football, it’s usually, ‘I’m going to hurt you before you hurt me.’ I’m not scared of anybody.

“That’s how my dad taught me to be.”