(Editor’s Note: The following story was written by Heather Zadra for the Herald Times, which serves the Rio Blanco County area of Colorado. Paul Conrad is a native of Decatur and a graduate of Decatur High School. Colorado Northwestern was originally Rangely College and one of Conrad’s basketball players there was Charlie Cook of Decatur, a city councilman and member of the Adams County Sheriff’s Department.)
Longtime Colorado Northwestern baseball and basketball coach Paul Conrad was inducted into the Colorado Dugout Club Hall of Fame last week
At a banquet and ceremony held at the Denver Marriott Tech Center, Conrad joined the ranks of several professionals.
The honor “came out of the blue,” Conrad said. “I found out and said, ‘That’s great.’”
Conrad began coaching baseball and basketball at Rangely College in 1967, taking on administrative and teaching roles along the way. He also ran the summer youth baseball program through the recreation district for more than two decades.
Opportunities to move on to other things never seemed better then what he was doing here. “I did everything (at CNCC),” Conrad said, laughing. “I was basketball coach, baseball coach, athletic director, I had classes. I taught intro to P.E., first aid, sports officiating, and techniques of coaching basketball and baseball.”
The Colorado Dugout Club’s nomination criteria include, among other qualifications, high standards of sportsmanship and ethical conduct. Nominees must be involved in the baseball community for at least 15 years and have made significant contributions to “the advancement of baseball on and off the field at the local, state, nationalor international level.” Coaching ability is another consideration, as demonstrated by a coach’s overall records, championships, and honors.
For the man known as “the Legend” to players and coaches not only on his teams, but to those against whom his teams competed, those criteria hit the mark, particularly in Conrad’s advancement of the principles of baseball — both on and off the field.
“He knew people all over and was well thought of all over the place, everywhere we traveled,” said Ted Bergquist, who played baseball and coached for Conrad in the late ‘80s and youth baseball program through the recreation district for more than two decades.
“He got guys going not just on baseball and basketball; he was teaching life.
‘There were so many young men he taught and helped grow into men — through baseball, basketball, and in the classroom.” said Bergquist, who introduced Conrad at the Hall of Fame ceremony.
Bergquist became a professional umpire after Conrad urged him to try that aspect of the game.“I (umpired) about 10 games and realized I was an umpire and not a coach,” Bergquist said. “I like to blame him for ending my coaching career … I run into players who played for him 10 years before I did, and we all have the same thoughts about what he did for us as people. He taught life through sports, and that was the big deal. It was very refreshing."
Hans Parkinson, who attended the ceremony to see his friend honored, officiated baseball and basketball games at CNCC for years. “He did a lot for kids ... he was not only a coach, he was a dad to them, he was a role model to them,” Parkinson said. “What (the Colorado Dugout Club) is doing for him has been a long time coming. He’s well-deserving of what he’s getting.
Along with wife Sharon, at least two of Conrad’s four children, Kim and Dawn, and possibly a third, Rusty, were scheduled to watch their dad’s induction into the hall of fame. Daughter Kiki bought airline tickets to fly the Conrads to Denver for the occasion.
As Conrad looks back on a full career, he has no regrets. “I enjoyed being here and coaching the sports and everything else,” he said. “The college was really good to me. I had a lot of fun with it.”