June 2019 ROAR

jeanniegregory

PURPLE

HEARTS

Boys Lacrosse Team

Raises Big Money

to Fight Cancer

SALUTE TO

SPRING

SENIOR

ATHLETES

GIRLS TRACK &

FIELD TEAM

CLAIMS

REGIONAL

WHERE ARE

THEY NOW?

MADDY WATTERS

RUGBY TEAM

HAVING BIG

YEAR

JUNE

AND MUCH

MORE INSIDE

2019


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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

Lax v. Cancer...............................2-3

Ericka VanderLende........................4

Extra Credit....................................5

Kelley Claims Home Run Record.....7

Where Are They Now?.................8-9

Haga Steps Down........................10

Rugby..........................................11

Girls Track...................................12

Kevin Healy..................................13

Rockford Rowing.....................14-15

Tennis..........................................16

Capital Improvements..................17

New Athletic Director....................18

Comeback Chronicles.............20-21

Salute to Spring Seniors.........22-32

* Cover Photo of TJ Koop Courtesy

“Papa” Razzi Sports Photography

rockfordroar.com

VOLUME 2 ISSUE 10

Managing Editor

Jeannie Gregory

jeannie@rockfordroar.com

Director of Business Operations

Joel Koch

joel@rockfordroar.com

Rockford.ROAR

ROAR_Mag

ROAR_Mag

JEANNIE

GREGORY

ROAR Editor

Hello Ram Fans! I talked a lot about the inclement weather

in my last column, and I want you to know here and

now I’m not giving it the honor of mentioning it again.

Let me just say, “ugh.”

As Joel and I work our way around all the happenings in

Rockford, we are continually amazed by all the good people

within our community. The athletic programs, which include

the coaches and student-athletes are part of that. The amount

of community service they do to make a differnce is truly inspirational.

Trips to help at Kids Food Basket, North Kent Connect,

and the Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding are just a few of

the non-profit organizations that receive help from Rams. Also,

don’t forget the good our athletes do through Relay for Life, and the Rockford Boys

Lacrosse program’s Lax v. Cancer. So many life lessons these youngsters are learning

about giving back to the community and how important it is to help others.

It is that sense of community that makes Rockford the special place it is.

Former Ram basketball standout Maddy Watters is the subject of this month’s

“Where Are They Now?” and she reflected on what she carried with her when she

left Rockford. She said, “The biggest lesson as a person that I brought from Rockford

to CMU is that you are never alone; you always have someone in your corner,”

she shares. “With all of the love and support I felt from my family, friends, and fans

during my time as a Rockford Ram, I realized that someone is always rooting for me

and that I’m never alone. The support of the Rockford community is second-to-none

and makes me proud to be a Ram, and for that I am eternally grateful.”

In “Comeback Chronicles” ROAR features brothers Chase and Cole Shuble. The

community rallied around the Shuble family after Chase was in a car accident and

was in critical condition. The support the Rockford family felt as they worked their

way through the hoops and over the hurdles until Chase reclaimed his health was

impressive. There is a lesson through this, and that is you never know what is going

to happen in your life, but there is a certainty that if something does, the community

will be there to gather around you, lift you up, and support you as you work your way

through it.

In this issue, ROAR also did a Salute to Spring Seniors. This is something new we

are trying. As a matter of fact, I came up with the idea just two weeks ago as I was

watching the spring season wind down and getting nostalgic about all the seniors

who have made their mark on Ram athletics. I asked Joel if he could sell advertising

for it (I knew it was late notice) and you should have seen the look! He did like the

idea, though! If it is welcomed, it will become a tradition for the fall and winter seniors.

There were 102 athletes who gave it all they had throughout the spring season,

enjoying being part of a team and making plenty of memories along the way. They

also gave all their spectators the gift of entertainment and a couple of hours of sheer

enjoyment while getting away from the daily grind.

A HUGE THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS

Action Tax Service

Bailey’s Quick Lube

Blakeslee Rop PLC

Bridge Street Burger Shack

Budget Blinds of Rockford

ChoiceOne Bank

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

Druckenmiller Painting

Everyday Rockford

Farmers Insurance

Five Star Food Express Rockford

Great Northern Trading Company

H&S Companies

High School Fan Stand

Innovative Builders & Remodelers

Kellermeier Plumbing

Lake Michigan Credit Union

Lidral Orthodontics

Little Caesars Pizza

Mark of the Z Heating & Cooling

Mercy Health

Metro Health - University of Mich.

Nugent Builders

Peak Performance Roof Cleaning

Pegasus Sports

Photo Evo

RE/MAX United

Robinet Physical Therapy

Rockford Chamber of Commerce

Rockford Realty

Scott Lowing - MWA Rep

Servpro of NE Grand Rapids

Sparta Chevrolet

Spectrum Health Rockford

Star of Rockford

Team Mortgage Company

The White Insurance Agency

Watson Rockford

Williams Orthodontics

JUNE, 2019 ROAR MAGAZINE 1


PURPLE HEARTS

Rams Lacrosse Team Raises Funds for Important Cause

BETH GRAALMAN &

JEANNIE GREGORY

There are certain things that trump sporting events. Oh,

sure it doesn’t count as a game unless there is competition and

updating a scoreboard, but some things are bigger than all of

us. The annual Lax v. Cancer is one of those phenomena. Fans

realize it the minute they walk through the gates of Ted Carlson

Memorial Stadium.

The event is celebrating more than a decade in existence

and has grown each year with plenty of love and attention.

The RHS Boys Lacrosse program was part of the founding

team and has grown to realize what the games mean to its fans

and the community. Tim Murray, the head coach of the Rockford

team at the time and Tony Quinn, of Forest Hills Central,

started the event in 2009 and the event has grown and morphed

through the years.

“The goal was to create an event where two programs could

come together to raise money for cancer research,” shares current

head coach Mike DeWitt. “I don’t think either coach knew

how big it would grow and continue for a decade.”

Grow it did. The Rockford Boys Lacrosse team is a member

of the Van Andel Institute’s Purple Community, a grassroots

fundraising and awareness program that connects local

groups, teams and communities in the fight against cancer.

To date, Rockford Lacrosse is one of the Purple Community’s

highest earning annual events in West Michigan, contributing

over $100,000 since 2009.

This year the team played against Grandville.

“Grandville got involved last year as they have a program

very similar in size to Rockford’s from the youth program on

up,” says DeWitt. “We reached out to them due to their leadership,

community involvement, and overall interest in creating

a great fundraising event.”

During the month of April, the dueling establishments of

Rockford’s Corner Bar and Grandville’s Ucellos hosted a friendly

“Hops for Hope” competition. Each location sold “purple

beer” to recognize cancer research. Both popular eateries donated

$1 per mug sold to the cause to get things started.

Both programs fielded a number of teams – all the way

from third and fourth graders to varsity and took the field at

The Ted starting at 8 a.m., Saturday, May 4. The varsity’s game

was slated for noon and all 38 players donned purple jerseys,

the name of a loved one they were honoring on their backs. A

special recognition ceremony took place to impress the message

of who the funds raised were helping, putting a face to

the names of those who have or are currently battling cancer.

Ram senior Owen Evey didn’t need a reminder. He wore a

jersey honoring his grandmother, Joan Evey.

“The purple game is special to me because it is a fun way to

raise a serious amount of money for a cause that affects everyone,”

says Owen. “The fact that Van Andel Institute is in West

Michigan and so transparent with their operation provided

me with a sense of comfort that the proceeds were truly going

to make a difference.”

Photo above: Ram goalie Ryan Hazy goes up for a save in the Lax

v. Cancer game. Lower photo opposite page: All 38 Ram players

donned a jersey honoring a loved one who is battling, or has

battled, cancer. ~ Photos by “Papa” Razzi Sports Photography

2 ROAR MAGAZINE JUNE, 2019


The RHS boys lacrosse team takes time out to pose in their purple jerseys during their annual Lax v. Cancer event that raises funds for

the Van Andel Institute. To date, the program has raised over $100,000. ~ Photo by “Papa” Razzi Sports Photography

Game day proved to be successful for the Rams’ records

as well, with victories for both JV and varsity. Junior varsity

earned a 7-5 victory with a standout performance by goalkeeper

Aaron Hessler, who made 10 saves during the game. Varsity

finished the day with a solid 15-9 win, with all 38 players

contributing to the match. A total of 10 players scored in the

varsity game, led by senior captain Cam Henckel with three.

Freshman midfielder Sam Watts earned his first two goals of

the season and the Rams tallied a total of 26 ground ball wins

during the game.

But, as was said before, it’s not really about the game. It’s

about making a difference.

“I hope the players see that being a part of a program and a

community is so much more than the sport they play,” shares

DeWitt. “It’s more than practice and games. It’s people who

love you, support you, and are there to make experiences for

one another. Cancer has affected everyone, and it takes a community

to help you fight.”

JUNE, 2019 ROAR MAGAZINE 3


VanderLende continues to

make mark on track

JEANNIE GREGORY

ROAR Editor

There are certain athletes who defy all logic when they perform.

Us mere mortals work hard to attain goals, and the great

thing is in sports there are always marks to hit. No matter the

sport, there are always milestones, whether it be shaving time

off a run or swim, learning a new pitch, adding to a batting

average, or whittling down an ERA. It makes sports a lot of fun,

and hard work always shows. Not to mention the enjoyment of

sitting in the stands and watching as athletes make their mark

on Ram history.

Senior Ram runner Ericka VanderLende continues to awe

the crowd.

The first time was a regular season OK Red track & field meet

when the Rams were facing off against Grand Haven, Monday,

April 22, at home. Ericka was competing in the 1600m Run and

clocked in at a blistering 4:44.01. That time was the fastest ran

in the nation that day. Her time was so fast, it wasn’t recognized

on the athletic.net site until it was verified.

But, the future University of Michigan athlete topped that

under a month later.

Ericka ran the 1600m at the MHSAA D1 Region 2 competition,

Friday, May 17, and set another PR by carving even more

off of her time. She crossed the finish line at 4:42.75.

For Ericka, it was just another day on the track.

“My goal all season has been to run in the low 4:40’s, so it

feels good to know that my hard work has paid off by running

a PR,” she shares.

Ericka is the only person in RHS history to hold both the

distance track records of the 3200m Run (9:57.01), the 1600m

Run (4:42.75) and for Cross Country (17.09.5).

When ROAR interviewed Ericka for the October 2018 issue,

she described her devotion to her sport.

“I work hard, and I am always motivated,” she said. “I never

want to take a day off, ever. I just know I’m working toward my

goals of getting better every day.”

Rockford girls track & field head coach Randy VanderVeen

understands the monumental accomplishments one of his

star runners has attained.

Distance runner Ericka VanderLende competing at the MHSAA

D1 Regional. ~ Photo by Kari Korytkowski

“She is a special talent,” he shares. “We’ve had the fastest

in the state before running at Rockford – that’s been a good

thing. But we now have the fastest in the nation (currently) –

that’s a new first and a great privilege.”

4 ROAR MAGAZINE JUNE, 2019


PROUDLY PRESENTS

EXTRA CREDIT

WILL NEVEAU

Will Neveau, 12, is in sixth grade at ERMS and was the youngest

24-hour walker for Rockford’s Relay for Life. A passionate

athlete, Will has run the Riverbank Run 10K the past two years,

along with many 5Ks. He plays tennis, snowboards, bikes, and

kayaks. He is a Boy Scout with Troop 264 and has collected for

the Rockford Lion Club’s White Cane campaign for years. Will

made the supreme dedication of walking 24 hours to honor a

number of his loved ones, including both his grandfathers -

Grandpa Bob, who was diagnosed with bone cancer, and his

“Umpa” (pictured with Will) who battled leukemia. Will also

walked for his Great Aunt Julie, who is a breast cancer survivor.

SKYLER CRONK

The Rockford JV soccer team closed their season with an

8-3-1 record and made plenty of great memories along the way.

This included performing community service at the Equestrian

Center for Therapeutic Riding as a team. Both Skyler Cronk

and Abigail Scroggs had big seasons, helping the Ram offense

with nine goals apiece. The two were followed closely by Emily

Hurst, with eight. Skyler had a huge game against Hudsonville,

which most soccer (and hockey) players only dream

about. The Lady Rams topped the Eagles by a 6-0 score, with

Skyler completing a Hat Trick for the Rams to help her team

claim the important OK Red Conference victory.

RBA BULLDOGS

The Rockford Baseball Academy 9U Bulldogs had a huge

weekend and a special victory for Jessica Smith, a mom of one

of the players. Smith was recently diagnosed with breast cancer

and the team donned special uniforms with pink ribbons

to honor her. The Bulldogs then set out on a quest to claim the

tournament crown in the East Lansing Spring Baseball Tournament.

The Bulldogs made their mark, sweeping the tournament,

claiming all five games, with three mercies. The Bulldogs

earned the tourney title by topping East Lansing in an exciting

7-3 victory in the rain-shortened championship game!

JUNE, 2019 ROAR MAGAZINE 5


Adult flu shots

Allergies

Asthma attack (mild to moderate)

Burns (minor)

Earaches, eye or skin infections

Insect bites, rashes

Migraines

Minor cuts, wounds, stitches

Minor head injuries

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

Pregnancy tests

Sports physicals

Sprains, strains, deep bruises

Upper respiratory infections

Urinary tract infections

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When you need prompt attention for those nonlife-threatening

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6 ROAR MAGAZINE JUNE, 2019


Kelley breaks single season record

JEANNIE GREGORY

ROAR Editor

Ram varsity baseball senior Joe Kelley had a big day against

West Ottawa pitchers, Tuesday, May 14. Joe not only ripped the

ball, going 5-for-8 with 12 RBI in the double header against the

Panthers, he also notched four home runs, including a grand

slam that shook the RHS record books.

Joe came into the first game with five home runs on the

season. He hit the sixth in the fourth inning on a 2-0 count to

tie the record of six in one season. Four former Rockford players

had notched that distinction in Ram history, Drew Farmer

(2011), Taylor Masiewicz (2009), Shane Street (2009) and Matt

DeGraaf (2002), prior to Joe’s swing of the bat that night.

But, Joe wasn’t done. In the same game, he came up in the

top of the fifth with fellow Rams Caleb Engelsman, Owen

Cairns and Zach Schamp on base with no outs. He knew what

he was eyeing when he stepped up to the plate.

“My teammates had been telling me that I was close to the

record,” he shares.

What better way to break a record than with a resounding

grand slam? The stage was set. He swung at a 3-1 pitch and the

ball sailed over the left field fence to break the previous record

and put his name solely on top of the list.

“It felt great coming off the bat and I was excited to see it go

over the fence,” shares Joe.

As he followed his teammates around the bases, Ram Isaac

Toole’s dad, Bob, videotaped the occasion and let the fans

know Joe had just broken the single season record for home

runs.

“It was great being greeted at home plate by my teammates,

who have always supported me,” he shares. “I enjoyed seeing

all the excitement in my teammates and all the Ram fans.”

The Rams claimed the game 16-2. As if that wasn’t enough,

Joe hit two more home runs in the second game of the twin

bill, going 2-for-4 with six more RBI in Rockford’s 14-3 victory.

He now stands with nine bombs on the season.

But Joe isn’t the only one making his mark. His team is eyeing

a piece of Ram baseball history, too.

The Rams hit six home runs in that one day alone and are

nearing most home runs hit by a team in a single season. Currently,

Cody Sterkenburg (2), Zach Marshall (1), Zach Schamp

(1), Grant Martin (1), Owen Carins (1) are all adding to a team

total that is just one short of the record of 16 recorded in 2010.

Ram senior Joe Kelley has been seeing the ball well at the plate

this year. ~ Photo by “Papa” Razzi Sports Photography

Joe’s efforts not only earned him a place in Ram history, but

also a nomination for MLive’s Athlete of the Week, vying for

the title against nine other area athletes who made their mark

during that same time frame.

Joe gives credit for his impressive showing on the diamond

to three sources.

“All the hard work in the off season and my confidence from

all the support of my family, friends, teammates and coaches. I

am also very grateful to God for the opportunity to play baseball

and help my team.”

JUNE, 2019 ROAR MAGAZINE 7


PROUDLY PRESENTS

Where Are They Now?

Maddy Watters

CLASS OF 2017

Sometimes what you think is a negative lesson turns out to

be a blessing in disguise. It’s always tough to have plans as you

go into a sport season and find your visions are going to be altered,

especially as a youngster. Maddy Watters learned a valuable

one when she was just a freshman at RHS. She had been

playing basketball since she was in kindergarten and knew her

way around a court. She learned plenty as she aged, playing

travel ball with the North Court Netters, next with the West

Michigan Drive, then finally with the West Mich-igan Titans.

“Travel ball prepared me for the great competition high

school basketball has to offer,” she shares. “It exposed me to a

faster paced, and a more athletic style of play.”

So, when she tried out to be a Ram, she was sure she’d land

on the varsity team. Instead she earned a spot on the junior

varsity team.

“Although I was disappointed at first, I realized it was exactly

where I was supposed to be because I still had so much

to learn about the game and life,” says Maddy. “That first year

built my confidence as a player and increased my knowledge

of the game. God also had relationships for me to build and

memories for me to make while being a part of the junior

varsity team. This was similar to my freshman year at Central

Michigan University. Having learned that lesson in high

school helped me to succeed in similar situations in college

basketball.”

Those lessons brought plenty of success to Maddy during

her high school career. She points to the influence of coaches

Jessica Yonkers, Ashley Czehowski, and Larry Fehrle as an integral

part of the player and person that she is today. Their guidance

and plenty of hard work from Maddy earned the Ram

standout plenty of accolades and awards on the court.

She holds nine records for RHS in basketball. She holds

the record for points in a game (33), points in a season (357),

career points (941), made free throws in a season (111), career

made free throws (263), made 3-pointers in a season (52), and

career made 3-pointers (116). Don’t think she isn’t a team player

either, she also has the records for most assists in a season

Maddy Watters was a dominant player as a Rockford Ram.

~ Contributed Photo

(71) and most career assists (176).

The CMU website lists her accomplishments as a Ram: “Fouryear

letter winner ... served as team captain in senior season

... named to Grand Rapids Press Dream Team and its Player of

the Year in 2017 ... averaged 16.4 points, 4.3 assists and 4 blocks

per game in senior year ... named to Basketball Coaches Association

of Michigan Class A All-State Team during sophomore

and junior seasons ... earned BCAM Academic All-State honors

as a junior ... as a junior, named to Grand Rapids Press Dream

Team Second Team ... received All-State honorable mention in

2016 from the Detroit Free Press and from the Associated Press

... named to All-OK Red Conference team after sophomore and

junior seasons.”

8 ROAR MAGAZINE JUNE, 2019


Maddy Watters is a guard for Central Michigan University. ~ Photo Courtesy of Central Michigan University

Ram girls varsity basketball head coach Brad Wilson had

plenty to say about the former Ram.

“Maddy had an incredible career here at Rockford High

School,” he says. “I unfortunately did not have the opportunity

to coach her. However, I have had the privilege of watching

her play on several occasions. In terms of her time as a Ram,

she shattered many records and cemented herself as one of the

best players to ever play here.”

An incredibly impressive bio and testament about a gifted

athlete. When it came time to leave RHS, Maddy signed with

CMU and became a Chip to add to their potent basketball program.

Maddy joined the Chips as a 5’9” guard, wearing the familiar

No. 4 on her jersey. She enjoyed an incredible run her

freshman year with the 2017/18 team – all the way to the NCAA

Sweet 16.

“What an experience full of many ‘pinch me’ moments,”

she shares. “I loved every moment considering it was something

I always dreamed of as a kid. My favorite memory had to

be beating Ohio State. The way our team came into that game

and performed is something I will never forget. The Sweet 16

experience made me proud to be a Chippewa, proud to be a

part of Team 50, and proud to be a women’s basketball player.”

Maddy entered plenty of those games as a freshman but

didn’t receive the nod as a starter. The lessons she learned as

an RHS freshman allowed her to adapt yet again.

“It was most definitely an adjustment,” says Maddy. “It was

something I wasn’t used to, but I used it as a learning experience.

I tried to be a sponge and soak up every lesson. I continued

to put time in at the gym and build confidence in my

game.”

That attitude earned her an award from the CMU coaching

staff last year, honoring her positive attitude, teamwork and a

willingness to contribute maximum effort.

“I felt extremely honored to receive the Dee Pommerenk

Award. Being recognized for my positive attitude and effort

was special, especially when I had many other teammates that

were worthy of the award.”

It’s that positive attitude Wilson points to as to why Maddy

is so special.

“I took a ton of players from our program over to watch her

play at Central Michigan University last year. Her team was

fantastic, eventually winning the MAC Championship, MAC

Tournament Championship as well as a trip to the Sweet 16 in

the NCAA Tournament. What I like best about Maddy is the

kind of person she is. She has helped with our camps, written

personal motivational letters to our teams before big games

and has attended games in her time off. She is a wonderful role

model for our young girls in the program. I could not be more

proud of her!”

Maddy worked her way to a starting position for the 2018/19

season and enjoyed a good year her sophomore season. She

continues to utilize all the hard work and lessons she’s absorbed

along the way. But, it’s more about the people she surrounds

herself with at both places. It’s how she excels as an

athlete and a person.

“The biggest lesson as a person that I brought from Rockford

to CMU is that you are never alone; you always have someone

in your corner,” she shares.

“With all of the love and support I felt from my family,

friends, and fans during my time as a Rockford Ram, I realized

that someone is always rooting for me and that I’m never

alone. The support of the Rockford community is second-tonone

and makes me proud to be a Ram, and for that I am eternally

grateful.”

JUNE, 2019 ROAR MAGAZINE 9


Haga to Step Down from Coaching

JEANNIE GREGORY

ROAR Editor

Jon Haga took over the boys water polo program from Dave

McWatters and kept the rich tradition going for the past three

years. ~ Contributed Photo

It’s no secret that being a high school coach takes a lot of

time. To lead a highly successful program takes even more

time. It’s not just about the games, it’s about the practices, the

strategy meetings, the travel to tournaments, the paperwork

keeping track of stats and records, or the interaction with the

student-athletes such as dealing with trouble at home, or with

struggling grades.

It’s never a complete surprise when a coach steps down,

but it almost always causes a collective hiccup when it comes

to the athletes, the parents, the athletic director, and yes, the

program. There’s a bond that no one can deny. Jon Haga took

over for the highly successful RHS boys water polo coach Dave

McWatters three years ago and kept the program at its apex

with plenty of drive and dedication. He led the team to backto-back

State Titles in 2016 and 2017 and third place in the

2018 Finals, two Regional Titles and a runner-up finish in 2018,

and its 26th District Title. As the Rams head coach, Haga led

Rockford teams to an impressive 134-13-2 record. He recently

announced he would be stepping down from the position of

head coach.

He explains his reasons, with bittersweet feelings.

“Over the course of the past few months I have been thinking

deeply about the future. I have spoken with many mentors,

coaches and friends. At the beginning of every water polo season

I ask the young men to focus on priorities: family, school,

health, then polo. It is time that I take my own advice and step

down as head coach from Rockford men’s water polo. Those

close to me know my family is my rock. As my kids, Camden

and Lyla get older, it is becoming more and more difficult

to see them, experience their accomplishments and achievements,

attend their events, among other things. I am a dad/

husband first, educator second, and coach third, always. Moving

from the classroom into administration has been an awesome

move for myself professionally and our family. But, with

that move comes more time commitments, more events, more

hours. As I was making the decision, I was looking at the many

schedules in front of me. While I could push practice back

later, cancel a few tournaments, and rely on our amazing assistant

coaches during the times I need them, it wouldn’t be

fair to them. It wouldn’t be fair to you, and most importantly,

it wouldn’t be fair to the young men. Rockford water polo is

a program that deserves a head coach that can give 110 percent

to the program in order to continue the excellence that it

has experienced the past few years with me, and plenty before

that. While my heart is still with the sport, with you all, and

Rock Polo, I need to think about my family, my career and the

young men’s experience and success with the team. It is with

that in mind that I am gracefully stepping away from the position

of head men’s water polo coach.”

Haga explains his affinity for Rock Polo, and his journey to

becoming a Ram.

“Ever since I began playing water polo, I have known about

the Rockford program,” he shares. “While we were in different

seasons in Illinois we would cross paths often over the summer

as we prepared to go out to Cali and the Junior Olympics.

When I went to Michigan State to play water polo I found myself

surrounded by some of the best players that have come

out of Rockford. State MVPs and All Americans Evan Perry and

Jared Swider, goalies Scott Voltz and Ben Shantz, these are

some of the many examples of excellent players that I was fortunate

enough to play alongside. I began to learn a little more

about what it meant to be a Rockford Ram. Then I met the love

of my life, Kristin. Wouldn’t you guess it, she went to Rockford,

too. Even had to have some of my friends convince her to go

out with me. But that’s another story for another day. Flash

forward 10 years. We are married in Chicago with a beautiful

baby boy and a little girl on the way and we decided to make

the move back to Rockford. I always joke that I won the battle

by living in Chicago as long as we did, but she won the war as

we are now in Rockford for good!”

His admiration for the program is second-to-none.

“I took over for, in my opinion, the greatest coach in the

history of Michigan water polo, Dave McWatters. Coming into

the position, I knew that there were going to be some high

expectations and some big shoes to fill. I knew that Dave had

a way of doing things and that he had built this program on

those methods. I felt I brought my own talents and own style

that was different than Daves. The thing that made it work was

the common thread and idea behind our coaching. If you play

good polo, with good discipline, and do the little things with

great effort, you will be in the right spot to win any game. For

the most part, we did just that.”

Haga assures he will still be seen poolside.

“It has been a privilege to coach here at Rockford and not

something that I will ever take for granted. You have all taught

me so much and I am very fortunate to live in this amazing

community where I will have the opportunity to see all of you

and continue to support the amazing young men in the fall

and beyond. I will not be a stranger and will plan on swinging

by some summer practices to show support and help with the

transition.”

10 ROAR MAGAZINE JUNE, 2019


The Rugby Football Club earns a spot in the state finals for another year. ~ Photo by Douglas Photography

Rams Rugby Football Club Secures

a Spot in the State Finals

CONTRIBUTED ARTICLE

Rams RFC faced Detroit Catholic Central in the state quarterfinals

on Saturday, May 18. For the first time this season,

Rockford found themselves trailing with DCC scoring early.

They soon settled their nerves, dug deep and reclaimed the

lead. Detroit CC kept the competition close all game, giving

barely any breathing room to Rockford. The Shamrocks’ strong

kicking game put pressure on the Ram backline, keeping them

from gaining any momentum. Rockford kept calm under this

immense pressure and worked together towards sealing their

victory after what seemed like an eternity in defense. As time

expired, there was a notable sigh of relief from the fans and

coaches following what was an absolute nail biter. The final

score Rams 19 and Shamrocks 17.

Playoff competition continued on Sunday, with Rockford

facing longtime rival Grand Rapids Catholic Central in the

state semifinal competition. This was the second time this season

these teams faced off. The first battle came out with Rockford

winning 25-12. Sunday, the Rams started out hot with a

dominating performance from both the forwards and backs,

scoring 20 unanswered points in the first half. Rockford was

tremendously undersized compared to GRCC, but the Rams

showed no fear. The determined team put in big hit after big

hit, slicing through Catholic’s defense. The game was far from

over, though. GRCC showed everyone why they had made it

to the semifinals with some punishing runs from their massive

forwards and backs. Rockford also helped Catholic with

their lack of discipline, committing penalty after penalty and

receiving three yellow cards. The yellow cards meant Rockford

had to play down two men for a portion of the second half.

GRCC used this to their advantage to gain momentum and

tighten the score to 20-12.

The Rams found themselves having to dig deep once again

to stop their opponent from making a comeback. Great senior

leadership and another big defensive stand allowed Rockford

to finish the game victorious with the score 27-12, securing a

place in the State Championship.

Head coach Shawn Gent passed on the sentiments from his

coaching staff.

“This weekend (and throughout the season) the young

men of the Rockford Rams Rugby Club have shown grit, determination,

passion, hard work, trust, belief in each other, and

most of all class and sportsmanship on the way to securing a

place in the State Championship,” he shares. “We couldn’t be

more proud of them!”

JUNE, 2019 ROAR MAGAZINE 11


Rams Earn Regional Title

JEANNIE GREGORY

ROAR Editor

The Lady Rams had a big day on the

oval Friday, May 17, when they competed

in the MHSAA D1 Girls Track & Field Regional.

The team dominated the day and

easily tallied enough points to claim the

Regional Crown.

The Rams placed first with 179 points,

with host East Kentwood claiming second

at 98, and Hudsonville placing third

with 86. The rest of the field in the top

10 were: 4. Grand Haven 63.5; T5. West

Ottawa 37 and Grandville 37; 7. Ottawa

Hills 32; 8. Muskegon Mona Shores 25; 9.

Holland 24; 10. St. Joseph 22.

The Rams had a big day with the

team claiming first place finishes in

seven individual events and three relay

races. The Korytkowski triplets garnered

plenty of points, with Taylor claiming

firsts in both the 200m and 400m runs

and in the 4x200 and 4x400 relays. Sister

Peyton also had a huge day, landing

the title in the 100m hurdles and second

in the 300m hurdles, with both times

PRs. Peyton also was the starting leg in

the winning 4x200 and 4x400 relays.

Shelby Korytkowski also dominated,

earning the Regional Crown in the pole

vault with a PR of her own, clearing the

bar at 11-03.00. Distance standout Ericka

VanderLende earned titles in the 1600m

and 3200m, placed second with a PR in

the 800m, and was the anchor leg of

the first-place 4x800 relay team. Jillian

Roney earned the individual crown

in the 300m hurdles, placed third in

the 100m, and was part of the winning

4x400 relay team. Of note, Danielle

Lamancusa landed 12th in the discus

The 2019 MHSAA D1 Regional Champion Rockford Rams. ~ Photo by Kari Korytkowski

throw, with a PR of 86-11.

RUNNING EVENTS (Top 8 finishes):

100m – 3. Jillian Roney 12.56, 7. Grace

Gohl 12.85; 200m – 1. Taylor Korytkowski

24.71 (PR), 4. Abby Nash 25.89 (PR), 7.

Grace Gohl 26.81, 8. Valencia Goldsmith

27.53; 400m – 1. Taylor Korytkowski

57.90, 7. Grace Flanders 1:02.78; 800m

– 2. Ericka VanderLende 2:13.08 (PR), 5.

Karlie Gardner 2:22.29, 8. Lexie Allshouse

2:26.79; 1600m – 1. Ericka VanderLende

4:42.75 (PR), 4. Emma Everhart-Deckard

5:23.95, 7. Lexie Allshouse 5:28.64 (PR);

3200m – 1. Ericka VanderLende 10:33.32,

6. Emma Everhart-Deckard 11:49.27;

100m Hurdles – 1. Peyton Korytkowski

14.77 (PR), 6. Aimee Zang 15.69 (PR);

300m Hurdles – 1. Jillian Roney 44.71,

2. Peyton Korytkowski 44.44 (PR), 5. Aimee

Zang 47.49. FIELD EVENTS (Top 8

finishes): Long Jump – 5. Morgan Vargo

16-10.25; Pole Vault – 1. Shelby Korytkoswki

11-03.00 (PR), 3. Morgan Vargo

10-03.00, T5. Breanna Haverkamp and

Reagan Ammon 9-03.00. RELAYS: 4x100

– 2. Rockford 48.78; 4x200 – 1. Rockford

1:41.27; 4x400 – 1. Rockford 3:59.75;

4x800 – 1. Rockford 9:48.69.

“The girls believed and came through

strong as a team,” shares Ram head

coach Randy VanderVeen. “To score 178

points at any regional meet is quite an

accomplishment, but this region was

really strong, so it’s an even greater

achievement. We qualified athletes in

14 out of the 17 events for the MHSAA D1

State Finals, with multiple athletes qualifying

for multiple events. Included in

the 14 events are all four relays, which is

another team goal accomplished.”

12 ROAR MAGAZINE JUNE, 2019


Healy Enjoys Successful HS Golf Career

BRIGGS MALONEY

Intern RHS 2021

In a few short days, the boys’ high school golf season will

come to an end, and so will the highly decorated playing career

of Ram senior Kevin Healy. As the boys golf team sets their

sights on winning the 2019 MHSAA Division 1 State Championship,

Healy took a few moments to look back on his playing

career at Rockford High School and to also discuss his future

as a member of the golf team at the University of Michigan.

Healy, who is also a very talented hockey player, shifted his

focus to golf between his freshman and sophomore years.

“Golf became my number one sport when I realized that I

could compete at a very high level,” said Healy. “My freshman

summer was the turning point, and that came about after deciding

not to return to play AAA Hockey, and to play for the

varsity team at RHS. That is when golf really became my main

focus.”

Healy has led the Rams to three straight Division 1 State

Championship appearances and prepares for a fourth this

spring. He was the medalist runner-up as a junior in the 2018

MHSAA State Finals, finishing behind future Michigan teammate

Kevin Sullivan. His second-place individual finish helped

guide the Rams to a Division 1 State Runner-Up team finish as

well.

As a sophomore, Healy posted an eighth-place individual

finish, while Rockford earned a fifth-place team finish. In

Healy’s freshman season, the Rams finished 15th overall as a

team. During his tenure at Rockford, Healy has been named

to the Division 1 All-State Team in each of the last two seasons

(2017 and 2018) by the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches

Association (MIGCA).

Aside from his accomplishments as member of the Rockford

golf team, Healy has also enjoyed many individual successes

in Junior PGA events. During the summer of 2018, Healy

posted four Top-25 finishes on the American Junior Golf Association

(AJGA) tour including a sixth-place finish at the Golf

Association of Michigan (GAM) Junior Invitational; seventh

at the AJGA Coca-Cola Junior at Boyne Highlands; 11th at the

AJGA at Forest Lake and 23rd at the AJGA Randy Wise Junior

Open.

ROAR Magazine recently asked Healy about his decision to

attend the University of Michigan.

“Michigan’s Head Golf Coach, Chris Whitten, is a Rockford

alumni, and we grew up playing the same course (Blythefield

Country Club). It was a connection for me that really made me

feel at home,” said Healy. “It has always been a dream of mine

to be a student athlete at the University of Michigan. I have

been given a great opportunity to advance my playing skills,

and I cannot wait to get to work with my new coaches and

teammates representing the Maize and Blue!”

After garnering Healy’s National Letter of Intent, Michigan

golf coach Chris Whitten was no doubt excited.

“He is a competitive, highly-skilled guy who I know will be a

phenomenal teammate. With Kevin’s abilities and work ethic,

the ceiling is very high long-term.”

When asked if he plans to pursue a career in professional

golf, Healy responded, “Playing professional golf has always

been a dream of mine and if I were able to accomplish that it

would be amazing. I understand how difficult a task that it is,

but if I can continue to get better, gain experience, and perhaps

get in the lineup at Michigan early in my college career,

that dream could become a reality... we’ll have to see how it all

plays out.”

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JUNE, 2019 ROAR MAGAZINE 13


The 2019 RHS Crew Team celebrating their successful season at their ‘CROM.’ ~ Photo by PhiloPhotography.net

Rockford Rowing Celebrates

‘CROM’ After State Finals

PATRICIA SUNDMAN

ROAR Contributor

The Rockford Rams crew team competed in the 2019 Scholastic

Rowing Association Championship Regatta on Saturday,

May 18, at Riverside Park in Grand Rapids. Up against 20

schools across the state, they came home with four medals.

Competition becomes fiercer every year as rowing programs

across Michigan continue to grow. Ann Arbor Pioneer was

crowned state champions for the girls’ competition while Orchard

Lake St. Mary’s brought home the boys’ state championship

title.

When viewing the strength of the new rowers and the varsity

team, Rockford appears to be set up quite well for a ferocious

run at reclaiming their state championship next year.

Never one to shy away from tough competition, head women’s

coach Dilan Itter spoke to the athletes following the regatta,

wanting to impress upon them their accomplishments.

“Today we got to see a lot of tough competition. We are

seeing states get even more competitive, which is great to see.

These championship regattas, if you are making it to the finals

you are really fast. Be aware of that. If you want to get faster,

and you want to get really quick in those 8s and 4s, you really

have to give that effort that everyone is always trying to push

you towards. Focus on preparation and what we are doing in

the winter and preseason is super important going into 2020.”

CROM Court and the graduating seniors Eliot Van Pelt, Blake

Jackson, Sam Sundman, Ethan Margot, Jason Scott, Mackenzie

Rutgers, Emma Lassig, Anastasia Motta, and Sophie Smith.

~ Photo by PhiloPhotography.net

14 ROAR MAGAZINE JUNE, 2019


Samantha Larson and Amanda Wilson earning bronze at the

state championships. ~ Photo by Aaron Sundman

The girls’ varsity 8+ boat earned bronze with Chloe Merritt,

Amelia Sundman, Amanda Skarda, Courtney Mathis, Hannah

Burmania, Emma Lassig, Ally Kinstle, Sophie Stauffer, and

Coxswain Callie Perini.

The boys’ lightweight 4+ boat earned silver with Jason

Scott, David Baker, Joe Saenz, Sam Sundman and coxswain

Remington Bertelsen.

The girls’ varsity 2-Boat earned bronze with Samantha Larson

and Amanda Wilson.

The girls’ JV 8+ boat earned silver with Chloe Merritt, Amelia

Sundman, Amanda Skarda, Courtney Mathis, Hannah Burmania,

Avery Sluiter, Ally Kinstle, Sophia Stauffer, and coxswain

Callie Perini.

Prom is a rite of passage and something that high schoolers

eagerly look forward to every year. Each year in Rockford,

prom falls on an important regatta day during the busy Spring

crew season. While athletes have the option of forgoing the regatta

and attending prom, most athletes give up their chance

to attend prom to compete with the team as they prepare for

the Midwest Rowing Championships.

Rockford rowing began a tradition several years ago where

they would hold “Crew Prom,” a.k.a. CROM, so that athletes

would not miss out on the experience. It is held the Sunday

following the state championships where all rowers and their

guests are invited to attend a night of dining and dancing.

This year’s CROM was at Cannonsburg Ski Lodge on Sunday,

May 19, just one day after the finals. The event is organized by

the graduating rowers and takes place with the assistance of

many parent volunteers.

The theme this year was “Under the Stars” and the rowers

celebrated a successful season while rocking out to their favorite

songs. It provided student athletes a night of being able to

celebrate the incredible bonds formed on the rowing team, as

well as the efforts put in over an exciting season.

JUNE, 2019 ROAR MAGAZINE 15


Rockin’ at Regionals

Lady Rams Qualify for State Finals

The Rams tennis team earns runner-up at the MHSAA D1 Regionals and qualifies as a team for state finals. ~ Contributed Photo

MICHELE DESELMS &

JEANNIE GREGORY

The Ram girls varsity tennis team has qualified for the MH-

SAA D1 Girls Tennis State Finals for another year. The group

has had a highly successful season so far, enjoying a winning

OK Red regular season, a piece of the OK Red title, and finishing

runner-up in the D1 Regional.

Rockford was 6-0 when they faced off across the court

against OK Red foe West Ottawa (with an equal record) and

came away on the wrong end of a 5-4 score. But that didn’t faze

the Rams, who knew they had another crack at the conference

crown during the conference tournament just two days later.

The never-say-die Lady Rams came through in a big way,

claiming the tournament by winning six of the nine flights

and tallying 57 points to earn a share of the OK Red title with

rival West Ottawa claiming second.

It was the sixth conference title for coach Tom Huizing’s

Rams.

“I love coaching in the OK Red,” he shares. “I’ve been around

sports my whole life and I’ve never been around a group of

coaches and athletes like we have in the Red. I have great respect

and admiration for the coaches and athletes that compete

in this conference. It’s always been a great battle with the

teams in the Red and I will forever be grateful watching the

competition day in and day out unfold on the tennis courts.”

Following the conference tournament, Rockford prepared

for Regionals where they took on the best in the state. The

Rams battled their way to a second-place finish, earning an

impressive 25 points to qualify for the MHSAA State Finals as a

team. West Ottawa claimed first with 26 points.

The Regionals not only pitted the Rams against some of the

best teams in the state, it also made for other challenges, such

as chilly temperatures, wind and rain.

The threat of rain lingered over the courts in Hudsonville

throughout the day. There was a light shower in the afternoon,

prompting a brief delay, then the skies really opened up at

about 5 PM, sending players and fans scrambling for cover.

The final matches had to be moved indoors to the courts at

Hope College, with Rockford winning two out of three of those

matches.

Two Ram singles and two doubles teams were crowned

flight champions. Alyana Bowman claimed the No. 1 Singles

Flight, Teresa Mosquera earned the crown in No. 2 Singles,

and the No. 1 Doubles team of Delanie Riebschleger and Abby

Ducharme, and No. 3 Doubles team of Brooke Dahlke and

ZuZu Trotter also took home first-place medals. Earning runners-up

status was the No. 2 Doubles team of Chloe Van Eck

and Emily Ramsay.

The team now prepares for the MHSAA D1 State Finals. It

will be an emotional day for Huizing.

“This season has been a culmination in the works for the

past four years,” says Huizing. “With nine seniors on the team,

I knew this season was going to be a little bittersweet with the

understanding that after the final ball has been struck that

these nine seniors will be gone.”

16 ROAR MAGAZINE JUNE, 2019


Proposed Plans for Capital Improvements

JEANNIE GREGORY

ROAR Editor

The Rockford voting community visited the polls Tuesday,

May 7, for the regular election and let their voices be heard in

a big way in what school officials called, “Building for the Future.”

Rockford residents voted on the Bonding Proposal and

Sinking Fund Millage Proposal and passed both in a decisive

fashion. Those funds, to the tune of $185 million ($174 million

from the bond and $11 million through the sinking fund), are

earmarked to go toward facility expansions, K-12 innovative

learning environments, and capital improvements. The goal

was to be able to “address facility needs throughout the district

and provide funds to promote collaborative learning and

innovation in the classroom.”

Some major structural additions will be a new elementary

school built on the west side of the district and additional

classrooms at Crestwood and Roguewood Elementary

Schools, North Rockford Middle School, and the Freshman

Center. There will be plenty of structural changes to the athletic

facilities, also. A modest portion of the funds raised through

the proposals, which RPS Assistant Superintendent of Finance

Mike Cuneo estimates at $14 million, will be used for co-curricular

facility improvements.

According to Cuneo, the plans for the funds were based on

plenty of input from the Rockford Sports Boosters, coaches,

parents of athletes, spectators, the current athletic director,

Tim Erickson, the principals of the schools, and even visiting

spectators to get a different view.

“We asked them, ‘what would you like to see in the future?’

and used that information to address the needs of the athletics

programs as we move forward,” he shares. “There was a lot

of discussion to find out what the needs were and how to best

answer those needs within the budget.”

The plans include field improvements, pool upgrades,

Rams Stadium upgrades, and high school tennis court replacement

and expansion. Also included in the plan is a new

entrance to the Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium.

The proposed entrance will be located at the north end of

the stadium, where the berm is currently located. The plans include

a combination plaza area that will feature ticket booths,

a large concession stand, bathrooms, and team rooms. The

team rooms will not only accommodate the players who play

on The Ted but will also be utilized by teams that play on the

lacrosse field above The Ted.

A visitor-side press box will be built with dual vision toward

the east and west for maximum use for The Ted and the

lacrosse field. The current press box on the home side will receive

a facelift, with interior improvements and the addition

of an elevator to bring it up to code.

The current lights for The Ted will be replaced with LED

lights and the plan is to add lights to the lacrosse field to allow

for nighttime play. There will also be improvements to the turf

and running surface at The Ted.

“The Ted will be 11 years old, as of this summer,” shares Cuneo.

“We will be replacing the field and putting a carpet mat

under the new turf so it’s more like the softer surface at the

lacrosse field. Improvements to playing surfaces have changed

a lot in 11 years. We are also replacing the track and putting in

The athletic fields near the water tower will be receiving plenty of

upgrades, including new LED lighting.

~ Photo by Eldon Palmer Photography

new asphalt, with all of this being done in different phases.”

Moving to the west, the tennis courts will be resurfaced and

there will also be additional courts added to accommodate

the additional flights added by the MHSAA in 2018. There will

also be larger, permanent stands added on both the home and

visitor sides of the baseball and softball fields.

The funds will also go to expanding the high school pool –

not the shell, because if there are changes to the shell the pool

would be closed down for 12 to 18 months, and the swimming

and water polo programs couldn’t survive the venue loss and

still be as successful. There will be pool deck improvements,

additional fan seating, a new storage area and plans to rework

the configuration of the pool where the diving boards are situated

to allow swimmers to go from deep to deep in their races

instead of how they currently swim from deep to shallow.

Rams Stadium, where the soccer teams primarily play, will

also be receiving improvements. The playing surface will remain

natural grass, but the venue will be receiving attention

such as a new concession stand, team rooms, locker rooms,

stadium bleachers and a press box.

There will also be money set aside for the replacement of

various equipment for all sports, including the weight room.

Replacements have historically been made due to the wear

and tear of use and time.

The work will begin with the new entrance of The Ted and

will start in the summer of 2020 after plans are designed, budgets

met and plans approved. There will be two phases to the

improvements, with an estimated time frame of between six to

eight years to accomplish all the projects.

“We are really excited to get started,” shares Cuneo. “The

athletic improvements are a part of the package that includes

the building expansions and the tech classroom improvements.

This fits right in with that plan. It will be a great opportunity

for the athletes in the community to receive an optimal

playing experience. It’s not all going to be done at once, but

we’ll start at The Ted and work our way around.”

JUNE, 2019 ROAR MAGAZINE 17


RPS Announces New Athletic Director

JEANNIE GREGORY

ROAR Editor

Sorry for the cliché, but moss doesn’t grow under the feet of

Rockford High School’s new athletic director, Cole Andrews.

He was named as the replacement for current AD, Tim Erickson,

Monday, May 13 and things moved quickly. He and his

family, wife Allie and sons Reece (6) and Cam (4) lived outside

of Rockford and after the announcement was made that he

earned the position, plans were put in motion to put roots in

the community. Andrews, who is 35, and Allie speedily put in

an offer on a house in Rockford and it was accepted.

It seems to be the way Andrews rolls. It wasn’t all that long

ago that he realized he had a desire to get back into the role

of AD. He had been the director of athletics for Oxford Community

Schools from 2015 to 2017, and prior to that served

as AD for Frankenmuth Public Schools. He started his career

as an AD and Student Success Coordinator at Pellston Public

Schools in 2011. He had left Oxford to work in sales for Daktronics,

a manufacturer of electronic scoreboards, LED video

displays, and electronic messages. But, something at the end

of last year led him to rethink his career change.

“I had a conversation back in December with the Director

of the MHSAA Mark Uyl about my career plans, and it re-lit

that fire in my stomach to be around athletics again,” Andrews

shares. “When that happened, we started looking for a school

similar in size to Oxford and with an academic and athletic

culture similar to Frankenmuth. Rockford certainly fit in those

categories! Allie and I want to give our two sons the best academic

experience possible, and we really felt like Rockford is

cutting edge academically.”

Andrews was one of 117 applicants for the job and the

school board unanimously selected him for the position; less

than six months since he made the decision to get back into

what he loves.

Now he’s making plans and setting objectives for the Rockford

athletic community.

“My short-term goal is to learn and maintain the current

tradition and culture that has already been established, and if

we can find little areas that could be improved, we will certainly

set fourth our best effort to improve in those areas,” he says.

He will lean on his education, which includes a Bachelor

of Arts degree in interpersonal communication and a Master

of Arts degree in educational leadership and administration

The Andrews family, Cole, Allie, Reece and Cam.

~ Contributed Photo

from Western Michigan University.

Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael

Shibler is pleased with the board’s selection

“Cole will continue the strong leadership Tim Erickson has

provide during the past 12 years as athletic director, creating

high school athletic opportunities for boys and girls that are

second to none,” shares Dr. Shibler.

When asked what he is looking forward to, Andrews had a

quick answer.

“Working closely with coaches and student-athletes,” he

says. “Educational athletics is special and something I never

take for granted. There’s no greater accomplishment than

positively impacting a student-athlete’s life. I take that very seriously

and look forward to serving the Rockford community

for many years to come. I’m pumped up and can’t wait to get

started in July!”

550 WOLVERINE ST. ROCKFORD, MI

18 ROAR MAGAZINE JUNE, 2019


JUNE, 2019 ROAR MAGAZINE 19


PROUDLY PRESENTS

Comeback

Chronicles

Shuple Brothers to Join Each

Other on Lacrosse Field at DU

JEANNIE GREGORY

ROAR Editor

There was a tweet that went flying out into the stratosphere,

Monday, Feb. 4: “Went from almost losing my homie to now

being teammates with him next year. Awesome to see how far

you’ve come over the years. Congrats on signing, brother.” The

message was instigated by Cole Shuple, a former Ram and current

Davenport University junior lacrosse player. It gives just a

hint about the monumental accomplishment of his younger

brother, Chase, signing with DU to join him on the Panther’s

lacrosse team.

Monumental because just 18 months prior, Cole’s brother

was in the PICU at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital on life

support. He landed there after a car accident while returning

home after a team building exercise for football. It was August

12, 2017, and Chase was preparing to enter his junior year at

Rockford High School.

“The phone call from Chase’s friend was a parent’s worst

nightmare and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy,”

shares Tara Shuple, Chase and Cole’s mom. “All you can do is

pray and the moments between finding out about the accident

and hearing he was in an ambulance en route to Helen DeVos

were endless. I beat the ambulance to the emergency room.

My husband, Pete, was out of town for work, but thankfully

we have amazing friends who we consider family, and those

bonds will never be broken. They rallied to get Pete home, get

Cole to the hospital and held me up when I was literally on my

knees praying.”

The news was grim. Chase had to be fully resuscitated at

the accident scene by first responders. After Chase reached the

hospital, the news was almost as grave. He was in critical condition

with a traumatic brain injury and had suffered trauma

to almost all of his internal organs, his lungs in particular were

in bad shape. Chase was also suffering with eight blood clots.

Word started to spread in the tight-knit Rockford community.

People started showing up at the hospital to stand vigil.

“The hospital did NOT know what to do because we literally

took over all the waiting rooms,” shares Tara. “I tear up

thinking about everyone holding their breath praying for one

boy to heal. There were 20-30 kids and parents in the cafeteria

daily knowing they couldn’t see him, just there to support all

of us.”

The prayers worked. Although Chase had a traumatic brain

injury, he miraculously had no structural damage to his brain

or spinal cord. On August 31, Chase was moved from the hospital

to Mary Free Bed for rehabilitation. He worked hard and

Chase Shuble celebrates signing with Davenport University,

along with his brother Cole and DU lacrosse head coach Chris

Esquivel. ~ Contributed Photo

was an inpatient until September 12. At the time of the accident

he weighed 165 pounds, he left the facility at just 119

pounds. Obviously, he had a tough road ahead of him both

mentally and physically to regain what he lost.

Chase tackled physical, occupational and recreational therapy

as an outpatient, but faced a devastating setback September

26, landing back in the hospital with a collapsed lung and

having to brave a procedure to re-inflate it. The fight to come

back took its toll, with Chase missing his entire first trimester

of his junior year of school, attending only some of his second

trimester and attempting to go full-time his third trimester,

fighting exhaustion the entire way.

Competing in lacrosse that spring was out of the question,

but Chase still worked out as he gained strength, perfecting

his stick skills, and cheering on his lacrosse teammates from

the sideline.

“I never really thought about ‘not being able to play again,’”

he shares. “I knew if I worked hard enough being able to play

wouldn’t be a question.”

Tara describes when Chase finally attained his goal of playing

again.

20 ROAR MAGAZINE JUNE, 2019


Chase worked hard for many months to return to the sport he

loves. He is back to playing for the Rams and will play at Davenport

University next year. ~ Contributed Photo

“His hope to play college lacrosse was feeling a bit further

away, but he didn’t give up on it. In June of 2018, he decided

along with his doctors, to try to go full contact in his summer

lacrosse. He had great teammates that supported and challenged

him as he took that step. I remember sharing the moment

with many parents as he stepped onto the field in pads.

I felt extremely proud, amazingly blessed, but nervous to say

the least.”

Chase had no qualms about getting back on the field.

“The first time I returned to playing I felt like myself again.

I was happy I got to continue to do what I love.”

Cole described how he felt to see his scrappy brother back

on the field that first time.

“I felt relieved, knowing that after all that happened, he was

still his normal self,” shares Cole. “I admire how he’s always

fighting and playing with a chip on his shoulder. I think that is

something that my dad projected onto me, then Chase picked

it up from both of us. No matter what, he is always fighting

and striving to be the best he can be.”

That drive certainly helped Chase in his recovery. Boys lacrosse

head coach Mike DeWitt attests to Chase’s dedication to

come back to play lacrosse.

“Chase has worked so hard to get to where he is right now.

He was always a good athlete, but last spring he had to learn to

be patient and focus on the larger picture as he continued to

heal from his accident. He would run sprints one day and had

to miss practice the next because of how exhausted he was.

This offseason he focused on cardio, strength training and

stickwork to make sure he was ready to compete this spring.

It has been incredible to watch him meet obstacles, overcome

them, and be ready to beat the next one that comes in his

path.”

Cole (left) and Chase Shuple have always been close siblings.

There’s such a stretch in ages that the two have never played on

the same lacrosse team. ~ Contributed Photo

“I never really thought

about not being able

to play again.”

Chase Shuple

Friends and family gathered together in February 2019, as

Chase signed on the dotted line to commit to playing lacrosse

at Davenport University – ready to join Cole for his final year

as a Panther.

“We are blessed beyond belief for the community of people,

doctors, friends, and family and are thrilled to see our

sons suit up together,” reflects Tara. “We have learned a few

times over how precious each day is and we know each new

day is a gift. We are excited for the next chapter!”

“I was extremely excited when I signed,” shares Chase. “I’m

happy I get to play alongside my brother for his senior year.

Playing at DU was something I wanted to do for a few years, so

signing was awesome.”

Cole is every bit as excited as Chase.

“I’m looking forward to being able to play and compete

with him every day. We’ve always pushed each other so I think

playing Division II lacrosse together will allow us to hit our

peak for athletic performance. I’m looking forward to spending

my final year of college growing closer and competing

with him. Going from not knowing if I was ever going to talk

to him again, to being on the same field with him is a miracle.”

of NE Grand Rapids

(616) 647-4300

JUNE, 2019 ROAR MAGAZINE 21


SALUTE to SPRING SENIOR ATHLETES

Photos and Collage appear courtesy of “Papa” Razzi Sports Photography

22 ROAR MAGAZINE JUNE, 2019


BASEBALL

JOE KELLEY

BASEBALL

ZACH SCHAMP

Dishing it Out. Ram senior catcher Cody Sterkenburg led the

Rams behind the plate all season.

~ Photo by “Papa” Razzi Sports Photography

BASEBALL

ALEX MILLER

BASEBALL

JACK RICHARDSON

BASEBALL

GRANT MARTIN

BASEBALL

ZACH MARSHALL

BASEBALL

BAYLEY SLATER

BASEBALL

CODY STERKENBURG

CREW

ELIOT VAN PELT

CREW

BLAKE JACKSON

CREW

EMMA LASSIG

CREW

MACKENZIE RUTGERS

JUNE, 2019 ROAR MAGAZINE 23


CREW

SOPHIA SMITH

Senior Solidarity. Four of the nine Rockford Rowing seniors: Eliot Van Pelt, Blake Jackson, Sam

Sundman, and Ethan Margot show off their cool shirts. ~ Photo by Aaron Sundman

CREW

ANASTASIA MOTTTA

CREW

ETHAN MARGOT

CREW

JASON SCOTT

CREW

SAM SUNDMAN

GOLF

KEVIN HEALY

GOLF

NICK RUPERT

GOLF

SAM OSENIEKS

LACROSSE - BOYS

ZACH MORRIS

LACROSSE - BOYS

DYLAN STEFFENS

24 ROAR MAGAZINE JUNE, 2019


LACROSSE - BOYS

JARRETT PLEKES

LACROSSE - BOYS

CAM HENCKEL

Formidable Foe. Zach Morris plays defense against a Grandville

player. ~ Photo by “Papa” Razzi Sports Photography

LACROSSE - BOYS

CHASE SHUPLE

LACROSSE - BOYS

KYLE HINTZ

LACROSSE - BOYS

ZACH ROHDE

LACROSSE - BOYS

ORION DODGER

LACROSSE - BOYS

TRENT EICHBAUER

LACROSSE - BOYS

TJ KOOP

JUNE, 2019 ROAR MAGAZINE 25


LACROSSE - BOYS

BLAKE GORDON

LACROSSE - BOYS

TROY KALNINS

LACROSSE - BOYS

IAN RODRIGUEZ

LACROSSE - BOYS

LIAM DOUGLAS

LACROSSE - BOYS

COLLIN HERMAN

LACROSSE - GIRLS

KARRINGTON VANDERMOLEN

LACROSSE - GIRLS

KASEY WOJCIAKOWSKI

LACROSSE - GIRLS

ANNA GLYNN

LACROSSE - GIRLS

SHAE STREHL

Well-trained. Ram senior Shae Strehl shows she knows what to do in lacrosse as she works her way

down the field. ~ Photo by Eldon Palmer Photography

LACROSSE - GIRLS

IZZY HOLMES

26 ROAR MAGAZINE JUNE, 2019


LACROSSE - GIRLS

MORGAN HALL

LACROSSE - GIRLS

STEPHANIE MIKULA

LACROSSE - GIRLS

MCKENNA RINEHART

RUGBY

ALEK FOSS

RUGBY

JACOB GENT

RUGBY

TAYLOR GREEN

RUGBY

BRYCE PAWLOWSKI

RUGBY

CONNOR ROBINSON

RUGBY

SAM RIGGS

RUGBY

IAN BERKENPAS

RUGBY

MASON PETERSEN

RUGBY

BRENDAN BACH

JUNE, 2019 ROAR MAGAZINE 27


It Takes Three. Ram rugby senior Taylor Green works his way down the pitch through a trio of opponents. ~ Photo by Sheila Bach

RUGBY

GAGE BERKENPAS

RUGBY

TYLER WATERSTRAT

RUGBY

IOANNIS KATSIKAS

SOCCER

ELLE SCHNEIDER

SOCCER

ALY ORVIS

SOFTBALL

HANNAH SCHINKER

SOFTBALL

JESSICA BERNOCK

SOFTBALL

BROOKE LEATHERMAN

28 ROAR MAGAZINE JUNE, 2019


SOFTBALL

LAUREN LANPHEAR

SOFTBALL

LOGAN SMITH

At the Ready. Ram senior Logan Smith carried a mighty bat for

the Rams all season. ~ Photo by “Papa” Razzi Sports Photography

TENNIS

ABBY DUCHARME

TENNIS

DELANEY EMERSON

TENNIS

ALAYNA BOWMAN

TENNIS

DELANIE RIEBSCHLEGER

TENNIS

CHLOE VAN ECK

TENNIS

BRITTNEY PLOOSTER

TENNIS

BROOKLYN PECK

TENNIS

WHITNEY HOWARD

TENNIS

KELSEY HOWARD

TRACK - BOYS

MICHAEL BEDFORD

JUNE, 2019 ROAR MAGAZINE 29


TRACK - BOYS

NOAH STALLWORTH

TRACK - BOYS

EVAN BERKENPAS

TRACK - BOYS

MILES WATKINS

TRACK - BOYS

NOAH IKE

TRACK - BOYS

JARED HARMON

TRACK - BOYS

LOGAN MURPHY

TRACK - BOYS

QUILLAN LOCKLEAR

TRACK - BOYS

EVERETT SMITH

TRACK - BOYS

CARSON CORNWELL

Track Star. Ram senior speedster Noah Stallworth receives the baton from teammate Eli Haddad in

a relay. ~ Photo by Kari Korytkowski

TRACK - BOYS

LUCAS PATIN

30 ROAR MAGAZINE JUNE, 2019


TRACK - BOYS

NICK FORREST

TRACK - BOYS

KILLIAN OLSON

TRACK - BOYS

JACK GRIMM

TRACK - BOYS

RAYMOND JIN

TRACK - BOYS

ELIJAH KAUFFMAN

TRACK - BOYS

JOHN VANDEN HEUVEL

TRACK - GIRLS

JILLIAN RONEY

TRACK - GIRLS

ABBY NASH

TRACK - GIRLS

NATALIE HULS

TRACK - GIRLS

DANIELLE LAMANCUSA

TRACK - GIRLS

TAYLOR CULLEN

TRACK - GIRLS

REAGAN AMMON


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JUNE, 2019 ROAR MAGAZINE 31


TRACK - GIRLS

REMI MARTIN

TRACK - GIRLS

EMMA EVERHART-DECKARD

Natural Born Leaders. Ram senior captains Samantha Tow, Jillian

Snyman and Grace Bargwell led the Rams in and out of the pool.

~ Photo by Jeff Tow

TRACK - GIRLS

ERICKA VANDERLENDE

TRACK - GIRLS

DIANA CANDELA

TRACK - GIRLS

ALEXIS LAMANCUSA

WATER POLO

SAMANTHA TOW

WATER POLO

GRACE BARGWELL

WATER POLO

JILLIAN SNYMAN

32 ROAR MAGAZINE JUNE, 2019


PHOTO FINISH

Photo by

“Papa” Razzi Sports Photography

Photo by

“Papa” Razzi Sports

Photography

PROUD SPONSOR OF PHOTO FINISH

Photo by Jacki Riggs


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metrohealth.net/sportsmedicine

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