There might be a dozen ways to tell the story of athlete, coach and athletic official Dan Cholas.
A writer can start with accomplishments such as his being inducted into the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) Hall of Fame (in 2007) and the Baseball Umpire Hall of Fame (2014). How about placing second in the nation in scoring and kicking in 1966 while playing football at Southern Colorado State College? Or trying out for the Denver Broncos in 1966 and 1968? Or umpiring not one but two Babe Ruth World Series games, as well as four Colorado state high school baseball championships? Or his 25 years as basketball and volleyball tournament director for the 1A Mountain League and 15 years guiding a district basketball tournament for boys and girls with proceeds going to district school scholarships?
And that’s the short list.
From his days as a student athlete at Paonia High School to his current role as the man who grooms and stripes high school athletic fields for the Delta County School District 50J, Cholas has remained a consistent symbol of Western Slope athletics. Whether performing on the field, teaching, coaching or officiating, he reports that he loved it all.
How does he want to be remembered by the countless individuals he’s coached, mentored, supervised, encouraged and disciplined during a career which exceeds half a century?
“Remember me for how much I enjoyed the kids,” he said. “Kids are special.”
Born in Paonia, Cholas grew up in a family that ran sheep on Ragged Mountain. When school was out, he worked with the sheep all summer, only returning to town for the Fourth of July and the start of football.
In addition to teaching for decades in Delta, Cholas has coached football, baseball, wrestling, track and basketball, working with middle school and high school kids. He relocated to Ignacio from 1971-75 where he coached kids from the Southern Ute Reservation. Returning to Delta High School, he retired in 1999 as athletic director and head football coach.
In addition to his present grounds keeping duties, Cholas serves as area director for the Colorado High School Baseball Umpire Association’s Area 15 which encompasses Delta and Montrose counties. In this capacity, he strives to interest local folks in the idea of becoming umpires. At one time, as many as 40 umpires worked in Area 15. Now the group has dwindled to a dozen — a reflection of the challenging nature of the job.
“If you’re going to umpire,” he said, “you need to make a time commitment.” That includes a lot of weekends away from family.
His advice for aspiring umpires? “Be consistent, be fair, and love to work with kids.”
Anyone interested in becoming an umpire is encouraged to contact Cholas by email: email@example.com