Sunday, October 27, 2013

My St. Johns' Connection

          I moved to St. Johns, AZ in 1993.  I was fresh out of college with a wife and a young daughter.  I moved here from Colorado not ever hearing of St. Johns or ever dreaming I would live outside of Colorado let alone in Arizona.  All I knew when I came here was they needed a history teacher and an assistant football coach. The only reason I knew of an open position was my supervising teacher in Colorado met Coach Morgan at a football camp the previous summer.  So that was my first St. Johns connection.  Before I moved here I found out my uncle had two brothers that lived in Springerville, AZ.  He told me from what he understood Elks and Redskins don’t get along too well on game day.  Living here, I am amazed how many people I know from all walks of life who know someone from St. Johns or have even heard of St. Johns, AZ.

          Over the last twenty years, I have been asked many times why St. Johns?  Why did you choose to stay in St. Johns and do you really like it?  The basketball teams I took to Mesa St. Camp in Grand Junction would always ask that after we traveled through the beautiful mountains between Dolores and Montrose, CO.  We would stay at my parents' house in Hotchkiss the night before the camp began and be treated to my mom’s warm hospitality and good cooking.  And again the question would be, “Why coach?"  This place is awesome.  I do have to admit that I get homesick for family, the farm, the mountains, and rivers that run up to your waist.  But it always feels good to be back home in St. Johns. 

          The main reason I feel at home is because of the people.  There is a connection here among the people that have made St. Johns their home that is unique and special.  I have seen that and felt it with people who have been here for generations and for those who have just moved into our little town.

          This connection was evident last Friday night.  Along with the Moultons, our neighbors across the street, we hosted a block party.  We invited people along our block and around the neighborhood.  It was great!  Where else can you have a fire in the middle of a dead end street?  We gathered together and broke bread and shared a part of an evening together.  The broken bread consisted of BBQ pork, homemade salsa and chips, and dutch-oven cobbler.  We visited, laughed and enjoyed the great food everybody brought.  Old acquaintances were renewed and new friends were made.  Our group came from different age groups, religions, and ethnic backgrounds.  Some have lived here their whole lives and others have just moved here.  My kids enjoyed the evening until the first firework went off and then it was time to go to the football game.

          After our evening, I reflected on some thoughts that came to me later that night.  We are all a child of God.  And He loves us.  One of our purposes here on Earth is to make and build relationships with others.  Just like any parent He is pleased when His children get along and serve one another and help in times of need.  When we gather together and find common ground and enjoy each other’s company and good will, it pleases Him.  Friday night was just another example of why I have stayed in and love living in St. Johns.  The other reason is what my son Coulson told me as we went to the football game.  He said, “Dad, you know why a small town is better than a big city?” I said “Lots of things, what do you think?”  And he replied “Because it doesn’t take long to get to a game.”  Amen.

Written By Brian Hollembeak
October 27, 2013


  1. I, too, have been asked why on earth I would want to live here. I love your reasons, and I could list 100 more.

  2. Amen to your reasons:) always glad to have great people add to our community.

  3. What a great post! You and your family make St. John's even better. Great job on throwing the block party! Wish I could have been there.

  4. I love that you can get any where in town in just five minutes!