Former Sailors basketball star Vandahl to run youth rec league

Ben Ingersoll
Mike Vandahl runs the Steamboat Springs High School boys team through a drill at Wednesday's practice. Vandahl, a former Sailors hoops star, started coaching the high schoolers last year and will be the youth recreational league's coordinator this spring.
Ben Ingersoll

— Former Steamboat Springs High School basketball star Mike Vandahl came home last year after completing his collegiate playing career, sticking with the game as a coach on the Sailors’ bench for the 2013-14 season.

Admittedly unsure then about how long he’d stay around and coach his alma mater, Vandahl returned to the coaching bench this winter in an expanded role with the Steamboat junior varsity.

Vandahl’s latest venture makes it seem as though he might be sticking around for awhile, and maybe this whole coaching thing is his niche after all.

This month, Vandahl was appointed the Steamboat Springs Youth Recreational Basketball League practice and league coordinator, helping High Altitude Basketball’s Devin Borvansky usher the former city recreational league into the club organization’s control.

Borvansky called Vandahl’s appointment a “no-brainer decision,” and that aspiring hoops players will be learning under a bit of a Steamboat youth and preps sports legend.

“I’ve watched Mikey play throughout his career and I’ve always been amazed about who he is on and off the court,” Borvansky said. “Success, he brings it around. He has a strong work ethic and he gets the job done.”

High Altitude Basketball — Steamboat’s 3-year-old AAU-turned-club organization — took over operations full time as the city’s youth recreational basketball facilitator late last year. Since then, Borvansky, High Altitude’s chief executive officer, has been working to fill out the youth league’s staff and schedule, which begins in a little more than a month.

The first and most pressing task was the league coordinator position, which will take a huge load off Borvansky’s shoulders in the first season under new leadership.

“We are basketball enthusiasts,” Borvansky said. “The job Mikey has to do is for the game he loves.”

Borvansky and Vandahl enjoyed their preps playing careers under longtime Sailors boys varsity coach Kelly Meek. Vandahl blossomed into a Denver Post All-State teamer by his senior year on campus. He went on to play at the University of Denver, Nebraska-Kearney and Western State.

Vandahl is in his hometown now, the place where he learned the fundamentals of the game, things like dribbling with both hands and form shooting, the very basketball essentials he will be passing along to primarily third- through sixth-graders this spring.

More than anything, though, Vandahl stresses enjoying the game at a young age. The youth rec league focuses on providing a non-competitive atmosphere so youngsters can get started in their hoops careers the right way.

“You have to make it fun for the youth kids,” Vandahl said. “High school is fun as well, but the biggest thing is making it enjoyable. It’s teaching the kids the basic fundamentals of basketball so they can be successful.”

Registration for High Altitude’s youth rec league closes after Feb. 2. The boys and girls fifth and sixth grade skills camp will be Feb. 23 to 26, and the rec league starts March 2. More information can be found at

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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