Seven Clubs, Eight Women, Oe Day
By Cheryl Van Tuyl Jividen :: Photography by Jason Roberts
Friends, Club activities and a day-long competition, the Cordillerathon was an experience unlike any other at Cordillera Ranch. The event, held on the summer solstice to maximize daylight hours, was the brainchild of resident and Club member Jill Hurd.
Hurd, who moved to Cordillera Ranch from West University in Houston in 2015, explains, “I love everything outdoors, and I wanted to create the ultimate outdoor day for me and my friends. I thought it would be fun and challenging to see if all seven resort Clubs could be used in one day. As she planned it, the Cordillerathon consisted of seven clubs each providing an activity: a trail ride, handgun shooting, kayaking down the Guadalupe, bench pressing 50 pounds as many times as possible, playing nine holes of golf and a set of tennis, and swimming a medley relay. “There were a lot of moving parts to this event, so we started small, with a group no larger than eight. I talked to the most likely suspects among my friends, starting with women who don’t mind dirt, sweat and getting their hair wet. I got a fair number of no’s for a variety of reasons. Most, rightly, thought it sounded exhausting. Then there were vacations and work schedules to accommodate.”
Ultimately, in addition to Hurd, the group consisted of Club members Jill Briggs, Michelle Hobbs, Linda Koetting, Bobbie Sanborn, Debbie Williams, Cyndi Walwick and guest Brook Harris who took the place of someone unable to participate. The entire group are avid tennis players and all but two of the women would, through their event participation, have had the opportunity to do things they hadn’t done previously at The Club.
Outfitted in t-shirts proclaiming “Consider this Diem Carped” and a Cordillerathon 2017 label that Hurd’s tennis team captain and good friend, Melody Abrahamian, created on the back, the women started their day at the Equestrian Center before dividing into two teams that rotated on the hour. Four went on a trail ride while the other half headed to the gun range. The groups then switched activities and some came prepared, says Hurd, “The Club provided handguns and ammo, but three of these good Texas women brought their own.”
The teams reunited and headed to the beautiful tree-lined Guadalupe River for an hour of kayaking. “No one got seriously soaked in the kayaking event!” says Hurd.
After a morning full of activity, the women enjoyed a refreshing lunch at the new Outfitter Center. Replenished and rested, they made their way to the Fitness Center for the bench press and cardio challenges. The group collectively lifted an impressive 7,500 pounds, having Hurd consider setting the goal for 10,000 next year.
Following their success in the gym, they headed to the Golf Club. “We are atrocious golfers, but our Group 1 scramble group (Linda Koetting, Jill Briggs, Brook Harris and Jill Hurd) still scored a 41 (5 over par) on 9 holes with very little cheating,” reports Hurd. It was ‘unclear’ exactly what happened to Group 2 (Michelle Hobbs, Debbie Williams, Cyndi Walwick and Bobbie Sanborn). Rumor has it, they were most grateful when Phil greeted them with citrus-scented, iced towels.
With so many avid tennis players in the group, it was game on at the Tennis Club, followed by a fast swim medley relay in the cool waters of The Club’s competition-style pool, before celebratory cocktails at the Vista Pool.
Later, the victorious women joined their husbands for an evening dinner and awards ceremony at The Clubhouse. Hurd, recaps, “Everyone received a jar of lavender Epsom salts and an ‘award’ during our post event dinner. My favorite awards were the Unsinkable Molly Brown Award to Debbie Williams who had a bit of kayak trouble but persevered, and the Caitlyn Jenner Surprisingly Strong Woman Award, which went to slender Michelle Hobbs who still ripped off 25 quick bench presses.”
The evening’s festivities were marked with a visit by Monty Becton, General Manager of The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch, who honored the group with celebratory champagne. “I had the pleasure of spending time with the ladies during their dinner on the patio. I was amazed at the energy and enthusiasm they had reflecting on the time they spent together. Several of them mentioned this gave them the opportunity to experience areas of The Club they hadn’t been exposed to before and how much they enjoyed it. I applaud Jill for thinking outside of the box and for having the passion for putting this event together. It’s obvious that she enjoys her time around the various amenities here at The Club. I hope her passion is contagious and that this event grows next year,” said Becton.
The repose allowed the women to reflect on the day. Harris summarized, “It was a day well spent with good company, outside in a beautiful place, and lots of fun exercise.” Koetting said, “I participated in the event because of my friendship with the girls and Jill Hurd’s enthusiasm. It was a really fun event.” Williams agreed, adding, “I’m so grateful that Jill Hurd came up with the idea for the Cordillerathon. I was able to enjoy the entire Clubs of Cordillera Ranch with a great group of ladies. Otherwise, outside of golf and tennis, I may have not experienced some of the activities that are offered at The Clubs. Likewise for Briggs, it was a time of discovery, ”Because of our travel schedules, we have been slow to get going with The Clubs, which is one of the reasons I loved the idea
Hurd says she and husband Charlie love the amenities of The Clubs, “That’s why we bought property here. Nevertheless, I never dreamed that through these various resort clubs I would meet so many wonderful friends and have so much fun here. The Cordillerathon was a celebration of the amazing life we lead. It really is heaven on earth here. All of us had the time of our lives. We entered and exited laughing, and our already good friendships have deepened. Some of us are now attempting golf together, and we have organized a stand-up paddle boarding day. I hope Cordillerathon inspires everyone to make use of The Clubs and make friends.” Koetting underscores that thought, “No one took much of it very seriously! Jill wanted it to be a fun day with friends and that it was. I went home laughing about the day’s events and slept very well that night! I look forward to doing it again next year.”
Hurd credits Shane Reynolds, Cordillera Ranch Director of Recreation, for his invaluable assistance in coordinating the Cordillerathon. “His suggestions for the timing of events, having lunch at the Outfitters Center, and the after event dinner were all perfect.” It was a great experience, says Reynolds, “When Jill Hurd contacted me about this event, I was thrilled to meet with her and help plan the special day for her group. Incorporating the entire lifestyle that Cordillera Ranch offers into one full day of activity is something we’ve only done a handful of times for groups over the past decade, and Jill’s group was the first group of women that wanted to tackle the challenge. From sunrise to sunset, they were up for the challenge and it was our pleasure to help them enjoy the day and all the activities the ranch has to offer. Days like this are what lead us all to remember that life is truly better out here!”
As for Cordillerathon 2018, plans are already in the works says Hurd, “I plan to do this again next year, although I hope to do sporting clays instead of handguns. I may also shorten the golf to show mercy both to my tennis-only buddies and to the grounds of the Cordillera golf course.”
The Women of Cordillerathon 2017
Each woman applauded Jill Hurd’s efforts, enjoying the comradery and getting to know the amenities of The Club better, as stated in their testimonials of the day and their lives on the ranch.
Michelle Hobbs and her husband Robert found their way to Cordillera Ranch while thinking ahead. “We were in San Antonio at a convention and decided to look at properties with a possibility for retirement in the distant future. We immediately fell in love with the lot we were shown and started coming to Cordillera Ranch so frequently that it made sense to go ahead and build.” After purchasing a lot in 2008 and building in 2011, Michelle moved to Cordillera Ranch full time in 2015 with Robert joining in 2016. “Cordillera Ranch allows us to feel like we are living in the country but with a lot of the conveniences of living in a city. We also enjoy the ease of driving into San Antonio for a special night out.” Michelle partakes fully in Club amenities with tennis , biking, running the trails with her dog and kayaking while Robert plays golf several times a week and enjoys the Men’s Club. “It was very important to my husband that we had a world-class golf course and it was important to me that we had a private natural setting for our home. In the years we lived in Houston with our busy work lives, we never had the sense of community that we have enjoyed at Cordillera Ranch. We have forged wonderful new friendships here and are constantly meeting new people. There is a real sense of community at Cordillera Ranch.”
Debbie Williams and husband Kirk moved to Cordillera Ranch in 1999 after his job transferred him from Michigan to San Antonio. Seeking something familiar, Williams says, “We lived on wooded acreage in Michigan and we were hoping to find something similar outside of San Antonio. The moment we drove through the gates of Cordillera Ranch and saw the beautiful Hill Country views with an extraordinarily well-maintained property, we knew we had found our home. There were approximately 30 houses back then so we have seen major changes and have been amazed by how well managed the growth of the ranch has been. It’s been a fantastic place to raise our three children. People in the community are welcoming and we enjoy the diverse backgrounds and interests of our neighbors.”
Cyndi Walwick, with her husband Sean and their sons, moved to the ranch about a year and a half ago from California. “I found the ranch through Jill Briggs who had moved here the year before. When she came back to visit us in California, she told us about how great the community was. We came to visit and fell in love with it as many others have before us. We haven’t been disappointed with our decision. Besides tennis, I also enjoy attending exercise classes taught by AK, with some personal training from her as well. She is extremely kind on top of being very knowledgeable. My husband and sons enjoy the outdoor activities including the fishing, gun club and archery. Most of the people I have met have been through tennis and have been very friendly and welcoming, and we have also met people at wine dinners hosted on the ranch. I don’t think we could have found a better place to live to suit our needs and desires.”
Jill Briggs and her husband Michael lived in Colorado for a long time before spending a few years on the Central Coast of California and finally moving to Cordillera Ranch in 2015. “We travel a lot for our work, which allows us to live anywhere within a reasonable drive to an airport. One of the main things that brought us to Cordillera was The Clubs. I play tennis (more than some may think reasonable), but I also love the classes at the gym, when I can fit them in. We spend a lot of time at the river and are anxious to do more on it! An early swim is always on my list, along with dining at The Club. After we get home from a six-week tour, we love being able to enjoy the Hill Country with such ease. We could do all the things we do off the ranch, but The Clubs make it easy and convenient. Everything is right out our door!”
Linda Koetting and husband Mike have been Club members for almost three years. “My husband plays golf and I play tennis but I hope to start playing some golf as well. We love The Club because of the service, amenities and its beauty. Everyone I have met has been welcoming and very friendly. Marc DeWall, the golf pro, exemplifies The Clubs’ professionalism and drive for excellence.”
Bobbie Sanborn and husband Keith relocated from Houston to Boerne in 2015 to expand their business. “We chose Cordillera for its unique qualities. It was the perfect mix of privacy due to the large lots while offering the ability to socialize with others at The Club or while enjoying many of the other activities on the ranch. We feel fortunate to have a Club with such great amenities, catering to many different interests and with top notch employees who provide first-class service. In addition to tennis, we both utilize the fitness center, attend wine dinners and eat at The Club frequently. We have used the gun range and kayaked on the Guadalupe. We enjoy spending time outdoors admiring the beautiful Hill Country views and we often walk our two Weimaraners on the nature trails. We have had the pleasure of meeting some of the friendliest and most interesting people in Cordillera Ranch.”