John F. Russell: Rick DeVos leaves his mark, sets new standard |

John F. Russell: Rick DeVos leaves his mark, sets new standard

— Rick DeVos was one of those guys who never seemed to have a bad day.

If he did, it didn't stop him from greeting me with that larger-than-life-smile, from asking me what was new in my life or how my family was or from returning my phone calls and answering my questions.

DeVos is one of those guys who always seemed to find the silver lining in almost any situation. He is genuine, he is honest and he cares about this community.

Maybe that's why he was hired as the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's executive director 19 years ago. At the time, the Winter Sports Club was in debt, and its role in the community was limited primarily to providing winter sports training to an elite group of athletes.

Things have changed for the Winter Sports Club, and though there were many in the community who helped along the way, the path DeVos traveled has made the Winter Sports Club a model across the country.

His primary focus was on the children, who come to the Winter Sports Club for a variety of reasons. Some want to be Olympians, others just want to learn to ski. Thanks to the Winter Sports Club, both types of athletes can find success.

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I’m sure not all of DeVos’ decisions made people happy, but he always stayed true to his main goal: providing a safe place where the children of this community could enjoy everything this mountain valley has to offer.

DeVos never was discouraged by the tough economic outlook, and he looked at every new challenge as an opportunity. He came to work every day and did his best to make sure the Winter Sports Club was something we all could be proud of and a place where our children could excel.

This week, when DeVos announced that he was leaving the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, I was surprised and a little sad. I'm happy that he will have a chance to move on to the next chapter of his life but disappointed that when I cover an event next season he will not be there to greet me.

DeVos has championed the Winter Sports Club in the pages of our newspaper for years. He celebrated when the athletes found success and the Winter Sports Club reached milestones, he promoted the club when it was hosting big events and he spoke from his heart when hard times came the Winter Sports Club's way.

It's hard to sum up what he has done, and it's also hard to image someone else doing his job in the future. But next year, the Winter Sports Club will be under new leadership, and thanks to the foundation DeVos has built, I have no doubt that whoever takes the job will find success.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email