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Marriages on the rocks (and trails, etc)

Posted: February 14, 2012 - 1:04am
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A love of running brought multiple couples to the Sweethearts' Relay in Douglas on Saturday.
A love of running brought multiple couples to the Sweethearts' Relay in Douglas on Saturday.

Dr. Janice Sheufelt’s marriage is on the rocks.

And on the pavement, and the dirt roads, and trails, and any where else she can peddle, spin, glide and torque her various bicycles in competition, usually with her family in tow.

And that is what today’s column is all about.

The love and romance that is flamed, kindled, and rekindled through a passion for each other and for sports, not necessarily in that order.

“There are 16 bikes in our garage,” Sheufelt said. “And various bits and parts of a few others. I suppose I should get rid of a couple.”

The Sheufelt family bikes.

Janice and husband Jim met in 1987 while working at Glacier National Park. They married in 1988 but didn’t get the bike-bug until moving to Colorado in 1992 when mountain biking became their main activity. They took a year off from the establishment in 1995 to bike… and bike… and bike.

“He would admit I am faster,” Janice said of her husband. “But he has really good endurance.”

That endurance was put to the test in the year they biked abroad. In that time they were robbed at machete point in Southern Mexico, stun by bees in France, and chased by wallabies in New Zealand.

“We were cycling on most of the continents,” Jim Sheufelt said. “We didn’t go to Africa. We have actually been robbed at gunpoint, but that was in the states. It is actually scarier with machetes.”

The Sheufelt’s say New Zealand and France are the easiest to bike in while Indonesia’s traffic was the worst, as it “just didn’t make any sense.”

Said Jim, “People just seemed to do things utterly at random and we had no idea what was going on.”

Southern Mexico was in a state of flux.

“It was just after their civil war, so half the places were friendly and half were not,” Jim said.

So what bikes could be cast aside from the garage storage? Surely Not the one she recently won the Furnace Creek 508-mile endurance race through the Mojave Desert and death Valley in which her daughter Megan and Jim and Peter Apathy were her support team; not the “honey-mooned” around the world rollers; not the foldable suitcase model for business trips; nor the ancient model that propelled her to her first win over her father; or the transportation apparatuses’ that guided her from high school to college and medical school.

“When my kids are old enough to drive,” Sheufelt laughed. “They will be getting a bike.”

The couple has gone back overseas to bike in the Alps and the Pyrenees. They introduced their two children to bike touring with a trip from Skagway to Whitehorse.

Said Jim, “Biking has been something we have done together a lot. It has led us to do a lot of things

Roughhouse boxing ring announcer Bob Haag, 66, and his scorekeeping wife Sandy, 64, have been married 45 years, most spent involved in the gentleman’s sport of boxing. “We were high school sweethearts,” Bob said.

Sandy was an accomplished violin player in Anchorage’s West High School orchestra and Bob an Eagles’ hockey player.

Bob started a boxing team when his boys were eight and five and recruited three of his nephews. Each of the lads had over 80 amateur fights.

“My wife has probably been to more boxing than any of us,” Bob said. “I was never an accomplished boxer, I was more of a coach and a promoter.”

Bob grew up watching boxing with his father in the 50’s and had an uncle in the Nebraska Golden Gloves.

“Watching the old black and white TV,” Bob said. “I always wanted to box, never had the skill.”

Bob’s first pro fight promotion involved an Alaskan State Trooper in 1977 at the Anchorage Sports Arena.

“He lived in our neighborhood and used to deliver papers to our house,” Sandy said of the couple’s childhood. “Then we started going sledding together. He was just a handsome little dude.”

Said Sandy, “Boxing, and all sports I guess, gives couples something in common and is something they can do with the whole family.”

The Haag’s daughter Jill didn’t box with brothers Jack and Joey so she was appointed cheerleader when a little tyke.

Sean O’Brien, 51, and Sue Reishus-O’Brien, 48, met in 1995 on the Juneau volleyball court. The random meeting involved Sue asking for some pointers. Sean was a coach and more experienced player.

“It ended up evolving into what has now become a 16-year marriage,” Sean said. “And we still play volleyball together every year.”

A year after that first meeting they joined the same co-ed team and have been teammates ever since. They married in 1996.

“This will be our 15th year on the same volleyball team together,” Sean said.

They have five children; Craig (23), Brian (26) and Alex (20) Reishus, and Thane (15) and Noah (13) Reishus O’Brien and all spent some time be babysat at the nets. All participate in sports and have become avid sports fanatics. Craig is an MMA fighter, Brian was on the state high school soccer champions, Alex an accomplished swimmer, Thane an accomplished swimmer, and Noah a budding basketball star.

Volleyball is a game where errant shots and digs and bumps can occur, but the two co-managers have retained a level of civility.

“After 15 years you just learn to have fun together on the court and ignore our little frailties you have,” Sean said. “You don’t play 15 years together on the court otherwise. We are very supportive and positive towards each other, and that is why we have played together for so long. We have a lot going on outside sports, so Volleyball really gives us the time together to do something fun. And it is one of those things that are scheduled so we don’t get out of it. And it is a big part of our history, how we got together, it all fits together well for us.”

Darryl and Debbie Tseu first met dancing with Janice Holst. Debbie was a figure skating coach. Darryl had a daughter and son interested in skating and hockey. The future couple would pass each other at the Treadwell Arena ice and maintained a friendship.

Debbie grew up in Anchorage and as a child yearned to play hockey like her older brother. Instead she was told to put on figure skates and spin with the girls. That love for hockey never left, even while Debbie became a coach for the Juneau Skating Club.

“And I ended up coaching and playing hockey,” Darryl said. “We realized that we both enjoyed each other’s company and looked forward to the opportunity that I would experience a chance encounter when she was getting off the ice and I was getting on the ice for games or practice.”

They gradually spent time together watching the JDHS Bears on the ice.

“It wasn’t too much longer when Debbie decided that she had enough room on her wall to hang both figure skates and hockey skates,” Darryl said. “Debbie continues to share her love of figure skating with me and we love playing hockey together. We’ve skated as a couple in several JSC recitals and she carries the show.”

Figure skaters love soft ice and hockey players love hard ice, figure skaters ruin the ice with divots from their toe picks while hockey players ruin it with their deep long grooves.

“It is the eternal story of the Montague’s and the Capulet’s,” Darryl said. “This is Debbie’s third year of playing hockey and I have played and coached her various teams and despite it all we have grown more in love with each other.

Has hockey created a stronger relationship between them? Perhaps.

“Our love of hockey is a close second to the love we have for each other,” Darryl said. “We hope to play hockey for life and we plan on doing it together.”

Anne and Charles Ward met at the 2004 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. A mutual friend worked to get a group of fellow University of Oklahoma fans together in the Crescent City for the national championship game between OU and Louisiana State University. Charles lived and worked at the time as a sports editor in International Falls, Minn. while Anne lived in Norman, Okla. A relationship between the pair began during the festivities leading up to the game, which OU lost 21-14. Since that time, Anne and Charles have attended a wide array of sporting events together, including all manner of high school games, several OU football and basketball games, the 2005 Orange Bowl, Manitoba Moose and New York Rangers hockey games and even a Washington Redskins football game. A trip to Toronto included a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“Sports are a shared activity,” Charles Ward said. “When it has been in your family for a while, such as my history with Oklahoma University, it is something you can pass along to your kids. It ties our families together. Even though she didn’t got to OU, she has a lot of OU people in her family and that becomes something support together. So even though families don’t always see eye-to-eye, they always can see eye-to-eye on something like that.”

The Wards now make their home in Juneau, but plan a trip to Oklahoma this fall to not only visit family and friends, but also to see OU host Notre Dame in football this October.

Jeffra and Al Clough met at the Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah in April of 1992 while attending a ski instructor’s seminar.

“We were in the same group together so we spent the next seven days skiing together,’ Jeffra said. “We liked skiing together and socializing together and things just grew from there.”

Jeffra lived in Colorado at the time and Al in Alaska. A visit in May of that same year resulted in Jeffra never leaving and working at Eaglecrest each season.

Al is the Department of Transportation Director for Southeast and a part-time ski instructor, and Jeffra is the Director of Sales/Marketing & Snowsports School at Eaglecrest.

The Clough’s have skied together in Colorado, Utah, Montana, Whistler, Blackhome, and Washington State to name a few slopes.

“We both truly love to ski,” Jeffra said. “It is a huge passion for both of us. I think part of the enjoyment is to be able to share that passion together. We push each other into trying new terrain and new challenges. It is just nice to share the giggles and share the laughs.”

There are many other couples who ski together, including Craig and Barb Lindh, Pat and Marilyn Taylor, Doug and Nancy Peel, and Jim and Teri Calvin to name but a few.

“Eaglecrest is truly an amazing asset that the city has,” Jeffra said. “It has been neat to see the changes that have happened over the years and it is great to see so many new faces up here.”

There are rumors of other couples who met through sports or who enjoy sports together.

Mary Norcross and Tom Reuteki have been married for 21 years and have volunteer coached every sport and event Juneau has to offer, including swim teams, soccer, hockey, skiing… and they have a few gene-pool athletes at college.

Sarah and Make Satre met as local ski coaches. Sarah’s requirement was to only date a guy who could keep up with her on the ski slopes, and there was Mike. They still find the powder when Mike isn’t busy at the Planning Commission or Sarah teaching at Auke Bay School.

Marty and Jessica Dean met through a kayaking experience.

There are so many people to wish a Happy Valentines Day to.

Instead, I am proclaiming February as Happy Valentines Month. If you have a couples photo and a paragraph or two, sent them in and get front page on the sports section.

It is almost better than a dozen roses. Almost.

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