Published: January 2, 2014
When Brett Green decided to put off his journey into the professional world for one last season to play basketball at Colorado School of Mines, there was only one thing Brian, his dad, could do.
Take the journey with him. Even if that meant leaving a longtime job he loved as boys' basketball coach at Peyton.
On Friday, the elder Green will take his seat in Lockridge Arena in Golden as his son and the No. 13-ranked Orediggers (9-0) play host to Western State. Already this season, he has made new memories through journeys to Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and later will take on many more miles.
For one last shot, it's more than worth it, almost a gift from each other that keeps on giving.
"When Brett decided out of the blue that he was coming back, in the back of my mind, I knew I wasn't going to miss a game," Brian said. "That's when I decided there was no way I could keep coaching basketball. I was trying to justify where I was spending my time, and it was time for me to give it all to my family. I don't regret any of this. My whole life has changed."
Life for the two had a memorable moment five years ago, when Brian nearly coached Brett and Peyton to the 3A boys' state title, instead suffering heartbreak in a 64-62 buzzer-beating loss to Faith Christian. While Brian eventually took Peyton to the 2A state tournament two more times, Brett enjoyed immense success at a college player at Mines, earning NABC All-American honors as a junior in 2011-12.
As a preseason All-American heading into his senior season, Brett was ready to put the stamp on his playing career, one set on redemption after an upset loss the previous spring when the Orediggers seemed primed to win the Division II title with a No.?1 ranking.
One bad step in a September practice, however, resulted in a torn ACL in Brett's left knee. His season was over, months before it was to begin. On the horizon, he'd receive a degree in petroleum engineering, and already had a contract to begin work and was looking at buying his first home.
Closer to home, a coach and father struggled to realize that he had probably witnessed his son's last game. Regrets from the past ate away at him.
"We weren't ready for that to be taken away," Brian said. "There are worse things that can happen in life, but we were caught off guard. He was ready to take on the world. I didn't think there was any way he'd come back."
Actually, Brett had his mind made up all along.
"I still had a redshirt year, and those three previous seasons, we had such success," Brett said. "It would have been tough to say 'That's it,' to give up on that dream. It was a pretty easy choice to come back, to try to do it one more time."
When Brian heard that surprising news, he was in the midst of a historic season at Peyton. His Panthers went 22-2 during the regular season and earned a top seed at the 2A state tournament at Massari Arena in Pueblo.
To not miss his son's final chance on the court meant he would have to step away from his coaching obligations after seven seasons. But first things first, or so he thought.
In a storybook scenario, he would have gone out on top, carrying a state trophy he and his son came so close to hoisting a handful of years ago. Instead, Peyton fell in the first round, sending Green into a world of mixed emotions of heartbreak from the past and excitement toward the future.
Both have plenty of exciting times ahead, aside from basketball. During Brian's transition, he became co-football coach at Falcon and took on a new challenge as an educator, leaving the classroom after 27 years for a new position of teacher on special assignment for online professional development in Falcon School District 49.
Meanwhile, Brett has started postgraduate work, with thoughts of a master's degree and eventual employment in the real world as a petroleum engineer not far off.
But first, basketball dreams, for both, wait as the Orediggers continue to blaze a path they hope lasts well into March. Brett seems back in top form he had previous to the injury, averaging 13.6 points.
"It's nice to have dad there," Brett said. "We're just going on this ride together, to see where it takes us."
Added Brian: "Losing at the buzzer in the state championship game is pretty heartbreaking. He still hasn't won it all. I know that desire burns in his heart, to win that last game. Maybe this is the year. For him to come back and me able to see it all, it does feel like a gift, from both of us."