Imus and family honored before matchup against Fruita

Matt Imus hugs Trey Schwerdtfeger, a teammate of his late son, Connor, Tuesday during a Senior Night celebration before the Montrose boys basketball team’s game. Connor, who died in May 2019, was a standout for the Indians. 

Matt and Emily Imus have been ardent supporters of the Montrose boys basketball team all season, and they could be found sitting in the bleachers right behind the Indians’ bench every home game.

But, Matt said, it’s been hard to watch the Indians play because — despite being an 18-win team — he and Emily know their son Connor would have been an integral part of Montrose’s success.

Connor Imus was a standout for the Montrose basketball team for the last three seasons prior to this year, but he died in May 2019 before his final year with the team.

All season long, the Indians honored Connor, and on Tuesday they did so again for Senior Night.

Matt and Emily were given a collage with pictures of their son in his time playing basketball and also received heartfelt hugs from head coach Ryan Voehringer, assistant coach Chuck Terrell and seniors Sean Alex and Trey Schwerdtfeger.

The players and the Imus family then shared some tears and kind words during Connor’s remembrance ceremony.

“This was a tribute to the teammate that he was,” Matt said. “He was a friend to all of the kids in his class.”

Following Montrose’s close win over Fruita, Schwerdtfeger said the talk in the locker room was how Connor was looking down and proud of his teammates.

“He would have wanted this,” Schwerdtfeger said.

“It was obviously an emotional night, but it’s been an emotional year,” Voehringer said. “But what a way to go out. You know Connor is up above and watching us.”

The occasion was a big one as both Fruita and Montrose residents packed the gym for both games.

Seeing that support made Emily reflect on how her son touched many lives.

“He’s really missed and loved,” she said. “It means a lot that everybody has been so supportive and remembers and honors him.”

Matt added that he’s learned from Connor’s classmates that he “would brighten up their day” by doing simple acts of kindness like opening a door for them or smiling or waving at a fellow student in the hallway.

“He was just an awesome kid even more so than an incredible athlete,” he said.

The night was emotional on both sides as Montrose took on Fruita Monument, a team that Connor knew well, having played alongside a few of those athletes in a summer league after his freshman year. And, on that team, he was instructed by the Wildcats current head coach Ryan Hayden.

To honor Connor, both girls and boys for Montrose and Fruita wore warmups with “Play 4 Connor” scribed on them. The No. 4 was the number Connor wore for the Indians.

The Wildcats did the very same thing earlier this month when the Indians played at their gym.

Montrose girls coach Steve Skiff said Fruita’s remembrance of Connor speaks volumes about both the teams' respect and admiration for him.

“They’re a class act and have class act programs,” Skiff said, crediting Hayden and Fruita girls hoops coach Michael Wells.

“Connor was a unifier between Montrose and Fruita. A lot of these kids played together for a long time.”

Additionally, the Fruita boys team also donated funds to the Connor Imus scholarship and presented a check to Matt and Emily during halftime of the girls hoops game.

Matt said they have been overwhelmed by the support from the Western Slope and California, the latter being where Connor was born.

“We’ve been really blessed here and in California,” said Matt.

The family is preparing to award the scholarship later this spring, as the deadline to apply is March 31. The goal is to award two-four endowments this year, according to Matt.

The applicants will be based on students attending a two-four year school and playing collegiate sports. The scholarship is up to $1,000-$3,000 and renewable for three years.

For more information, visit mhs.mcsd.org and click on the counseling tab and then the scholarship/financial aid link.

Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.

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