Tragedy at the top

Reid Gates' death the top local sports story of 2013

Cedaredge High School team captains, from left, Taber Anderson, Kyle Ward, Trent Walker and Peter Williamson carry Reid Gates’ jersey to the coin toss before a Sept. 14 game. Gates died Sept. 9 of accidental carbon-monoxide poisoning. Gates’ death was the voted the top sports story of 2013 by members of The Daily Sentinel staff.

Reid Gates was a terrific athlete and a great person, according to those he touched at Cedaredge High School. Gates is still remembered in the halls of the school and by those who knew him best.

His death shook up the small town where he was an exceptionally gifted athlete and, moreover, a person who made friends readily and set an example others admired and followed.

Reid Gates was several games into his senior football season at Cedaredge High School when he died from accidental carbon-monoxide poisoning Sept. 9.

The day before, a Sunday, he was with fellow Cedaredge High student-athletes Tyler Cooper and Aaron Henrie watching movies in a camper that was getting its electricity from an on-board generator. The camper was parked in a shed, and though the shed appeared to be open enough for sufficient ventilation, the carbon-monoxide built up and affected all three boys, who had to be flown to a Denver hospital on the night of Sept. 8.

Cooper and Henrie eventually recovered, and both are members of the Cedaredge varsity boys basketball team this winter. Gates was supposed to be their teammate.

His death was a tragedy, and as much as it’s a story no newspaper ever wants to have to report, The Daily Sentinel staff members selected it as the top local sports story of 2013.

Cedaredge said goodbye too soon to a young man whose athletic accomplishments already were impressive, and his coaches said the best was still to come. His athletic prowess was primed to hit another level of spectacular in his final year of high school.

He was faster, stronger and more agile than he had been as a junior on the football field, where he was an all-state selection for the Class 1A state champion Bruins.

The 3A Western Slope League’s basketball scoring champ as a junior, Gates was going to unveil the explosive dunks he had been perfecting and unleash the 3-point shot he had been developing.

And last but not least, he had a Class 3A state championship in the high jump to defend in track and field and a realistic chance to better his school-record height of 6-foot-8. Soon after the state meet in the spring, he won an all-classes pentathlon state title, glimpsing what he thought might be his college athletic future: the decathlon.

Three-and-a-half months after his death, Gates’ memory still looms large at Cedaredge High School.

Classmates still talk about him. A wall in the high school’s gym lists all of the varsity boys basketball players, and on that list is: R. Gates, No. 22.

More reminders will surface throughout the school year.

“Things will continue to come up. It’s not over,” said Cedaredge Athletic Director Brandon Milholland, who also was Gates’ football coach.

Milholland mentioned Gates was in contention for class valedictorian, which will be decided in the spring. He also would have been a candidate for numerous scholarships that will be awarded later in the school year.

Gates was considering applying to a military academy to pursue academics, athletics and service to his country.

Milholland said Gates was as remarkable as a person as he was as an athlete. He was quick to accept and include others who ran in different circles than he did. That’s why his death hit so many people so hard.

“It’s never going to be the same, and it’s never going to be OK,” Milholland said of the void that family and friends feel with Gates’ absence. “But we keep on living, and we move on.”

Moving on includes remembering, and memories of Reid Gates will live on with his family, friends, teammates and fans. He did things they won’t forget.


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