Hut, Hut, Hike! Youth Sports in Douglas County

It’s football season in Douglas County! Archives & Local History’s newest reading room display exhibits some of our materials on youth sports from the early 1960s through 1990. You can also learn about local youth sports here.

Do you have a local sports collection you’d like to donate? ALH is looking for papers, photographs, records, minutes, diaries, ephemera (like posters and brochures), audiovisual materials (videos, recordings), and more. We’d love to chat with you. Contact Local History.

The Arapahoe Youth League

The Arapahoe Youth League has been around since at least the early 1970s. ALH’s Arapahoe Youth League (AYL) materials (2001.060) contain records, playbook diagrams, ephemera (posters, stickers, brochures), correspondence, and photographs. Coach Mark Lee oversaw Douglas County’s AYL football and baseball teams, both called the Dolphins. Today, the AYL football team is called the Raptors.

Flaunt It While You’ve Got It!

The 1980 sports uniform catalog Southern Athletic/Bike advertised these interesting outfits for football practice. Many people in the 1970s cast off traditionally modest clothing in favor of flaunting it! Due to the soaring popularity of fitness through the ’80s, short-shorts and crop tops found themselves a staple of mainstream fashion—for both men and women. The crop top is said to have been inspired by football jerseys ripped on the field. What do you think? Should we bring the look back?

 

Safeteeth Firthst

Even though dental injuries accounted for about half of sports injuries in the 1940s, it wasn’t until 1962 that mouth guards were made mandatory for high school football players. “Boil and bite” mouth guards can be easily fitted to an individual player’s teeth. This one belonged to the Arapahoe Youth League, though it appears not to have been used.

Image shows a white boil and bite mouth guard.
Boil and bite mouth guard, 2001.060, Arapahoe Youth League materials.

 

Understanding Concussions

Jake Snakenberg, 1990-2004

Karen McAvoy, Director of the Center for Concussion at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, was a school psychologist at Grandview High School in Aurora when freshman Jake Snakenberg died of injuries sustained by multiple concussions. The incident affected McAvoy deeply and inspired her work on combatting concussions in youth sports. In honor of Jake, please take the time to review the hospital’s tips for recognizing and managing pediatric concussions.

 

Citations

Highlands Ranch History Spotlight: How to Implement a Master Plan

Forty-three years after it was first conceived, Mission Viejo’s dream has come to fruition. With more than 20,000 developed acres, Highlands Ranch is one of the largest planned communities in the United States. Starting with the first completed home in 1981, Highlands Ranch now comprises 35,510 houses with a population of around 100,000.

These figures align almost precisely with Mission Viejo’s 1978 vision of 30,000 homes, a population of 90,000, and two town centers with supermarkets, drug stores, professional offices, and commercial recreation built over a 25- to 30-year period.

After the Mission Viejo Company entered into an agreement to purchase the Highlands Ranch property, the company initiated a three-phase planning program. The program intended “to prepare a plan for a compact, balanced, new town that would be aesthetically pleasing, environmentally and socially responsible and economically viable,” according to Mission Viejo materials found at the archives.

By 1987, the company felt close enough to its goal to declare “Highlands Ranch The Pride of Colorado … No community satisfies both your needs and wants like Highlands Ranch.”

The master plan made realtor Teri Leonard’s job easy as she peddled Highlands Ranch real estate in the 1980s. “Because of the planning and effort that went into building Highlands Ranch, it was hardly any work selling it. Taking families through the recreation center to see what the community had to offer was often all the selling that was needed,” Leonard said.

That satisfaction, the company believed, came from the amenities Highlands Ranch offered, including pools, golf courses, neighborhood schools, community recreation centers, acres of greenbelts, and community events.

The events were central to building the sense of community Mission Viejo desired. Promotional materials advertised the Easter bunny leading children to an Easter egg hunt at Northridge Park, a kids’ bicycle parade on the Fourth of July, kite-flying contests, chili cook-offs, Santa’s workshop, apple pie baking contests, and softball games.

In 1982, the community celebrated its first Highlands Ranch Days, receiving permission from the county commissioners to serve beer at the hoedown from 8 p.m. to midnight. Julie Colby was one of the winners in the first bake-off, creating a Raspberry Layer Pie using Jell-O and cream cheese. At the 1983 Highlands Ranch Days a cheesecake sold for $47 at the live auction.

Ultimately, Mission Viejo’s plan was about more than infrastructure. The company wanted to create in Highlands Ranch a “sense of community,” “intimacy and a sense of true belonging,” “a place where people once again know their neighbors,” and “a feeling that makes the quality of life here very special.”

For those 100,000 citizens in Highlands Ranch today, do you think Mission Viejo’s aspirations were achieved?

To discover more about this topic or items in the archives, please check out the Archives & Local History digital collections or contact archives staff.

Douglas County 4-H Memories

4-H Memories

Douglas County has deep roots in agriculture and livestock raising. With the Douglas County Fair & Rodeo opening on July 31st, let’s take a closer look at one lively aspect of the fair – 4-H.

4-H stands for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. The organization is about as old as the Douglas County Fair (a century). Agricultural university programs nationwide partner to help youth build hands-on skills, responsibility, citizenship, and leadership. Many people associate 4-H with farming and agriculture, but today’s focus goes beyond that to include STEM education.

Footage from the Past

A boy stands with a black cow under the Castle Rock butte. A cowboy on a bucking horse leaves the gate to perform at the Douglas County Fair and Rodeo. A boy uses all his might to tug on his cow's lead at the Douglas County Fair. A 1950s Douglas County High School square dancing team of four boys and four girls poses together in their dancing costumes.
County and state fairs are a hot spot for 4-H programs, in which youths from ages 5 to 18 participate in contests from goat raising and gardening to cake decorating and handmade fashion. Douglas County 4-H even has a rocket contest! Historically, animal contests have been a popular choice. This footage dating to the 1950s and 1960s shows 4-H and Douglas County Fair events, especially livestock contents. You can also get a glimpse of a lasso spinning performance, a school band in the Douglas County Parade, livestock judging, bull-riding, and the Douglas County High School square dancing team.

Champion Dressmaker

Contests in sewing and dress-making and sewing were also front and center in 4-H. Darlee Mikelson won the Colorado State Fair Dress Revue in 1953 and got to travel the Douglas County Fair’s parade in style. These photos to the left show Darlee’s handmade outfit and her moment in the spotlight on the back of a Ford Sunliner convertible during the parade.

Skiing to Victory

Sometime between 1955 and 1960, Frances Bos and Carolyn Stricker were 4-H Dress Revue reserve champions (runners-up). Francis Bos, on the left, made her own skiing outfit! Fitting for a Coloradan. The woman in the middle is Elizabeth Larson, a teacher.

A Cowboy from Down Under

4-H was so popular in the early 1960s that International Farm Youth Exchange Delegate Peter Gill flew in from Spalding, South Australia to mentor Douglas County’s rural youth. He stayed with the Lowell family (Castle Rock), who have deep roots in Douglas County 4-H, and the Higby family (Greenland). By all accounts, he was a fun guy!

Summer Camp

In summertime from at least the 1940s to the 1980s, 4-H clubs sometimes met up at 4-H Club Camp, including at Camp Shady Brook near Deckers. A state camp was also held at Camp Tobin near Pueblo. 4-H members hiked, fished, made crafts, and danced the Conga line!
It was a great way for rural youth with shared interests to meet. Club members attended camp from across the county, and even the state.

Learn more, join 4-H, or visit the Fair!

Douglas County Libraries Archives & Local History has plenty more historical records about the Douglas County Fair & Rodeo and 4-H. Our new display in the Archives & Local History reading room showcases some of our most interesting 4-H collections. Come and see it at the Philip S. Miller library through the end of August. Tag us @dclarchivists if you find the Christmas in July cameo!

4-H isn’t just a thing of the past. Youth can still participate today, with lots of county and state scholarships at stake. Enjoy this year’s Douglas County Fair & Rodeo from July 31st to August 8th at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.