Susie Wargin

Susie Wargin

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Jeff Huson

Rick Upchurch

Raised by his grandparents and later foster parents, Rick Upchurch had his share of ups and downs growing up, however there was no denying the love and support he received from his family and his community in Holland, Ohio. From his grandparents passing away, being held back in the 6th grade, getting his GED and going to junior college hours away from his hometown, Rick learned how to persevere.

The Broncos didn’t even have him on their radar in 1975, but after a Broncos assistant bet a steak dinner with then-Broncos GM & Head Coach John Randal that Rick would be the AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year, they drafted him in the 4th round. John lost the bet. But he won big with Rick, a guy who showed no fear as a return specialist and could also catch and run with the ball. Rick’s list of accolades is long. He’s one of only 29 NFL players on two All Decade Teams (1970 & 1980). A 5-time All Pro. A 4-time Pro Bowler. The Broncos 50th Anniversary Team. Broncos Ring of Famer. University of Minnesota Athletics Hall of Fame. Not to mention, he’s a darn good person with a great story who made countless Broncos fans yell and scream whenever his hands touched the football.

Bill Hanzlik

Despite playing basketball at three different high schools, Bill Hanzlik still stood out and had many options for playing at the next level. He chose Notre Dame where he played for four years and earned an engineering degree. Bill helped the Fighting Irish get to their first Final Four where they lost in the semifinals. He was also part of the 1980 Men’s Olympic basketball team that never made it to Russia because of the US boycott. He was drafted 20th overall in the 1980 NBA Draft and played for two years in Seattle until he was traded to Denver. Bill went to the playoffs every year he wore a Nuggets uniform.

When he became their head coach in 1997, it was quite the opposite: his team won just 11 games, a record that is currently tied for 4th worst NBA regular season record. He was fired after one season. During his playing and coaching days, Bill started and grew the Gold Crown Foundation. What began as a basketball camp for 150 girls has grown into a multitude of camps in a variety of sports for thousands of young people. While Gold Crown is Bill’s passion and mission, he also loves his long-time gig as an analyst for the Nuggets on Altitude TV.

Ryan Spilborghs

He estimates he played on 40 teams from T-Ball to the Big Leagues and was the best player on about 10 of those teams. If that’s the case, how did Ryan Spilborghs make an MLB roster and spend over a decade in professional baseball? Because he just kept chasing the dream. He knew if he kept going, others would fade away and he’d still be there.

“Spilly” was born in Santa Barbara and stayed close to home for his college baseball career, mostly because all the other schools wanted him to walk on. At UC Santa Barbara, he was on scholarship, but quickly realized the work he needed to put in to actually play.

In 2002, the Colorado Rockies drafted him in the 7th round thanks to a Rockies’ scout (Billy Eppler, now GM of the NY Mets) who was in Long Beach for some surfing and happened to watch Ryan hit an improbable home run for the Gauchos against Long Beach State. From there he toiled in the Rockies’ minor league system for a few years and made trusting friendships with guys he’d eventually play with in The Show, like Troy Tulowitzki, Garrett Atkins and Corey Sullivan to name a few. Spilly made his MLB debut on July 16, 2005. He played one game and was back to AAA. He returned in 2006 and hit his first home run. In 2007 he was an integral part of the Rockies’ crazy regular season ending and playoff run which brought them to the World Series.

After becoming a free agent in 2011, Spilly knocked around a few other teams including internationally for a couple years. In 2014, he joined the Rockies TV Broadcast crew as an analyst, a gig he still enjoys today, along with being a dad to two and husband to Stacey. Follow Spilly on Twitter @SpillyGoat19

Dan Issel

He didn’t make varsity on his high school basketball team in Batavia, Illinois until he was a junior. A huge growth spurt from 5’11” to 6’8’ helped, as did his high school coach who took the time to help make Dan Issel a future icon at the University of Kentucky, the ABA and the NBA.

Dan still holds the record as the all-time leading scorer at Kentucky, a record he set in 1970 that will likely never be broken. After college Dan played in the ABA and set the league on fire as the 1971 ABA Rookie of the Year and scoring champ, the 1972 ABA All Star Game MVP, ABA Champion in 1975 and 6-time ABA All-Star. After he was sold (yes sold) to the Nuggets and the ABA & NBA merged, Dan added another All-Star appearance to his name as a member of the NBA. His #44 jersey is one of 7 retired Nuggets jerseys.

After his playing days were over, Dan had two stints coaching the Nuggets, both of which ended with resignations. In retirement, Dan is now enjoying life in the Denver area with wife of over 50 years, Cheri, his two adult children and 5 grandchildren. He also co-hosts a radio show on ESPN Radio in Louisville. Dan is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the College Basketball Hall of Fame and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.

George Gwozdecky

He is the only coach in NCAA hockey history to win a Division I National Championship as a player, assistant coach and head coach. He’s coached in a Stanley Cup Final and led a high school team to back-to-back state titles. George Gwozdecky has also been fired, when he least expected it.

“Gwoz” grew up living and breathing hockey in Canada. In college at Wisconsin, he was part of the 1977 NCAA Championship team. When it became apparent his playing days would not continue into the NHL, George turned to coaching where he had multiple stops (mostly in 5-year increments) including as an assistant coach for the 1986 Michigan State NCAA Champions. His longest tenure was at the helm of the University of Denver where he spent 19 seasons and led the Pioneers to back to back NCAA titles in 2004 and 2005. From 2001 to 2013, Gwoz’s DU teams had at least 20 wins each season. Then, out of nowhere on April 1, 2013, he was fired. No joke.

He was stunned, however that setback opened new doors, including spending two years as an assistant with the Tampa Bay Lightning and their appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015. Since 2015, George has been the head coach at Valor High School where he’s led the Eagles to multiple state title games and back to back championships.

There is life after being fired.

George is a member of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, the University of Denver Athletics Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame.

Mark Jackson

Mark Jackson grew up in a rough part of Chicago as the youngest child of a single mom. He thought ducking when hearing gang gunfire was normal. Playing in the NFL was never a dream, in fact, he quit football for a year when he was at Purdue.

Despite being shorter than most and claiming very little talent, Mark was drafted by the Broncos in the 6th round of the 1986 draft. His career was on the fast track from the beginning: Mark was part of “The Drive” and played in Super Bowl 21 his rookie season. He’d play in two more Super Bowls, and as Broncos fans painfully remember, all three were losses. During his 7 years in Denver, Mark became a fan favorite as a member of “The Three Amigos” with fellow wide receivers Vance Johnson and Ricky Nattiel. When he became a free agent in 1993, he doubled his salary by heading to the NY Giants where he caught a lot of passes, but was cut mid-season in 1994. He was then picked up by the Colts for a bit and missed out on an opportunity to join one of his favorite childhood teams: the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In retirement, Mark’s energy is the same as when he played: 110%. He has many ventures, including Jackson Financial Solutions and the non-profit Recruiting Classroom.

Chad Friehauf

For every marquee name in the NFL, there are thousands of names who never see their name in lights. They are the ones who keep trying and trying (and trying) to live the dream. They are the grinders. That’s Chad Friehauf. The Morgan County product from Brush had every reason to dream big: he helped turn around a football program and culture at Colorado School of Mines, a school known more for engineering than sports. In 2004, Chad won the Harlon Hill Trophy (D2’s version of the Heisman) and led the Orediggers to their first NCAA Playoff appearance. He finished his career at Mines as the school’s all-time leader in pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards and touchdown passes. He started his pro football journey with the Broncos where his only appearance was taking a knee in a preseason game. Undeterred, Chad kept working at every opportunity including the CFL, Arena League, baseball and even returning to Mines to play a remaining year of eligibility in basketball at the age of 24. Eventually, he knew he had exhausted his chances and retired. Then came the reinvention. Chad founded ReadyList Sports with Jake Plummer and they are changing the way football coaches teach and how players learn their playbooks. He has also moved back to the farm he grew up on in Brush where he is running the farm and starting a family. The grind continues.

Ryan Harris

He was on the Broncos Offensive Line for three different stints during his 10-year NFL career. His final tenure in Denver included a victory in Super Bowl 50. Ryan Harris grew up in the Twin Cities and was inspired to play football after attending a Vikings game as a "chubby kid." He was the big lineman and knew he had a place in the game. Over time he acquired the skills and speed to get noticed and the offers from Division I schools started showing up. Ryan opted for Notre Dame where he started at Offensive Tackle for four years and earned degrees in both Economics & Policy and Political Science. The Broncos picked him in the 3rd round of the 2007 draft and over the next 10 seasons, he would hear many opinions (positive and negative) about his playing abilities with the Broncos, Eagles, Texans, Chiefs and Steelers. He also endured nine surgeries throughout his football career which helped him gain perspective on work ethic and belief in himself. In retirement, Ryan is a best selling author, keynote speaker, award winning broadcaster and involved in a number of projects trying to create a better world. To find out more about Ryan and follow his endeavors, visit

Jake Plummer

He grew up in a very small town outside of Boise and had athletic competition from day one with two older brothers. Jake Plummer played just about everything growing up including football, basketball and baseball. It was his talent at quarterback that earned him a full ride scholarship to Arizona State in the early 90’s where he set numerous records on the field and was a two-time Academic All-Conference student athlete. His senior year as a Sun Devil was stellar. Jake earned Pac 10 Offensive Player of the Year, was First Team All American, came in 3rd in Heisman voting and was just a few points shy of a National Championship after losing to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl 20-17. He was drafted in 1997 by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2nd round where he played 5 up and down seasons. In 2003, he signed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent and led them to the playoffs for 3 straight seasons. In 2006, for the first time in his career, he was replaced mid-season by Jay Cutler and was traded to Tampa Bay at the end of he season. He had filed his retirement paperwork before the trade and never played for the Bucs. These days Jake lives in Colorado with his wife and 3 kids. He's also become entrenched and educated in functional mushrooms. Jake helped co-found UMBO which offers functional mushrooms in tinctures, capsules and bars. Use the code CTFR15 for 15% off. In 2021, Jake helped found MyCoLove Farm in Fort Lupton to ensure the mushrooms for UMBO were grown properly.