Rocks the Gridiron
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Where Are They Now?.................8-9
Girls of the Gridiron.................10-12
Country Club Closing..............30=31
* Cover Photo of the Rams Football
Team compliments of Connie Hill
VOLUME 2 ISSUE 14
Director of Business Operations
Hello Ram Fans! Another ROAR Magazine is in the books!
This one was a lot of fun. As I got to revisit old friends,
and make some new ones I continue to be floored by
all Rockford has to offer in the way of athletics. In this month’s
ROAR we cover everything from the equestrian team to a successful
In our special features, Where Are They Now? and Comeback
Chronicles we revisit two RHS graduates, KC Zenner and Ryan
Gamm. Both have battled injuries that could have easily kept
them down. Both are quality young men and I’m thrilled to
share their stories with our readers.
I love how even though Rockford kids graduate and pursue
their dreams they still hold on tight to their roots. Another thing that always
impresses me is how willing everyone I have contacted over the past year has been
willing to share their personal stories. It’s always the same, “sure, I’ll answer your
questions.” And then they talk about how the Rockford community and former
coaches supported them “back in the day,” and how it continued after they left.
It is with great sadness that I noted the closing of Silver Lake Country Club.
When I called it the end of an era, I meant it. So many great memories were forged
on that golf course and in the club house. There are plenty of “Rockford names”
who were members and it brings back plenty of nostalgia for those of us who
remember them and know they have passed in recent years.
I covered the Girls of the Gridiron with great interest. I loved how both middle
schools had a girl on their roster, a decided sign of the times. Their determination
and courage to be on a team that is considered “an all-male sport” is truly inspiring.
It reminded me of a girl quarterback who played when my eldest son played.
Her name was Ashley Lubberts and she was good friends with my daughter, Megan.
She played up until sixth grade and was a heck of a quarterback. I reached out to
her and she said she had a blast playing and was happy she had played those years.
She said it taught her how to be a leader and how to work in a team setting. Both
Ava and Kendall are in eighth grade, but their wisdom and words come across as
a lot older. I love what Ava said at the end as she puts it all in perspective. “I have
heard people ask my parents why they let their daughter play such a dangerous
sport, or if they were afraid for me, or how do you know your daughter is safe or
won’t get hurt. I just wonder, why is it any different, just because I am a girl?”
Happy reading, I hope you enjoy October’s installment of ROAR Magazine.
As ever, Go Rams!
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OCTOBER, 2019 ROCKFORDROAR.COM 1
The Rams varsity football team celebrates their 34-21 victory over the Mona Shores Sailors, Friday, Sept. 20. ~ Photo by Mary Moseley
RAMS RULE ON GRIDIRON
The Rams varsity football team faced their biggest competition
of the 2019 campaign, Friday, Sept. 20. The Rams traveled
to Muskegon to take on the Mona Shores Sailors. The contest
featured the Sailors, who were ranked the No. 1 team in Division
The Rams weren’t overlooked, however, they entered the
game ranked No. 3 in Division 1. Both teams were undefeated,
walking into the stadium with identical 3-0 records.
Rockford had plenty to overcome early in the season. First
and foremost, was that their head coach wasn’t at the helm in
their first three games. Legendary coach Ralph Munger had
quadruple bypass surgery, August 9, just 20 days before the
first scheduled game.
Add to that plenty of illness including the flu bug and
pneumonia. Injuries were also battled during those early
weeks. That didn’t mean the Rams couldn’t rise up and bring
down the competition.
Their first game, which was Thursday, Aug. 29, was against
Grand Rapids Christian. The first game of the season always
carries plenty of question marks, so the coaching staff and
Ram Fans went into the game both curious and hopeful. The
2019 Rams didn’t disappoint in their first-ever meeting in the
program’s history against the Eagles, even though it took two
days to conclude the contest due to lightning delays that finally
had the teams meet the next day. The lull in play didn’t
affect the Rams at all, who led the contest 17-0 when play resumed.
The Eagles were able to seize the momentum midway
through the third quarter on a 32-yard touchdown pass that
would bring them to within 17-7, but the Rams went right back
to their hammer to push the lead back to 24-7. The hammer,
in this instance, was 240-pound senior fullback Jaiden Friesen
who carried the ball seven times for 47 yards to complete a
56-yard drive that took only nine plays. A late Eagle TD made
it a more respectable 24-14 game, but it was far too little and
late for the hosts. The Rams walked away with their first win of
their 2019 campaign.
“It was a difficult situation for the team and they had to
overcome a lot of adversity by coming back to play and maintain
that pinnacle high a day later,” said interim head coach
Randy VanderVeen. “I think we were really well-prepared and
it was a great defensive effort against a team that is very difficult
to prepare for. But we knew we would have to get it done
as units. And we have good, even what we would call great
kids, who really rose to the occasion.”
2 ROAR MAGAZINE OCTOBER, 2019
The defense was outstanding with Reid Nicholson tallying
nine tackles while adding a fumble recovery and a sack while
Dylan Dams added six tackles and a fumble recovery of his
own. But the stat sheet stuffer for the spirited Ram defense
was junior linebacker Ben Tadych who had seven tackles, two
forced fumbles, two sacks and a fumble recovery of his own.
The next week, the Rams faced off against the Lowell Red
Arrows in their first home contest. Rockford had mowed down
Lowell in 2018 by a 36-0 score to give the Rams their only win
in their first four games last year. The 2019 game didn’t disappoint
Ram Fans as the team earned a 24-7 victory at Ted Carlson
Memorial Stadium to move their record to 2-0.
Rockford rode an unrelenting rushing attack and an efficient
passing game to methodically wear down Lowell over
the long run. For the game, the Rams totaled 315 yards on the
ground led by four ball carriers. Friesen again led the way with
118 yards on 18 carries, while Nash amassed 99 yards on just
five attempts. Both Friesen and Nash accounted for touchdowns
for Rockford, with Nash sprinting for a 70-yard score
on a counter in the opening quarter and Friesen capping off
the scoring with a bruising 10-yard burst late in the contest.
Senior Jackson Moseley added 67 yards on ten carries, while
junior Jacob Vega accounted for 30 yards while toting the rock
eight times. Corey was 8-for-11 passing for 89 yards with one
touchdown and one interception. Eli Haddad led the Rockford
receiving corps with three catches for 44 yards while Nash
added 22 on a pair of receptions. Another Ram highlight was a
41-yard field goal off the foot of Teagen Lenderink.
The Rams opened up their OK Red schedule the next week
against the West Ottawa Panthers. The Panthers were holding
an 0-2 record when they hosted the game, Friday, Sept. 13. The
Panthers had topped Rockford three times in the last two seasons,
including knocking Rockford out of the playoffs two seasons
ago, so revenge was definitely a factor in the contest. And,
indeed, revenge was sweet with the Rams coming home with a
running clock 48-6 victory.
Rockford got the final score of the game largely on the back
of senior Grant Bisbee, while leading 41-6. Taking over possession
at the Panther 47, Rockford used nine plays to cover that
distance before scoring to make it a 48-6 final. Bisbee bowled
over multiple defenders before scoring on a nine-yard burst
with only 1:47 left in the contest. Bisbee carried on six of those
nine plays while accruing 32 yards.
The Ram rushing attack was again led by Friesen who netted
89 yards on 16 carries. Bradley Rohen-Blanton got 69 and
a TD on his single attempt with Nash accumulating 65 on six
rushes. Bisbee added the aforementioned 32 on his six carries
to help a Ram rushing attack that netted 297 yards on 40 carries
for an impressive average of 7.4 yards per attempt. Corey
was 6-of-8 passing for 88 yards with a single TD pass and one
interception. Haddad led the receiving corps with three receptions
for 73 yards and a touchdown. Jackson Moseley, Mitch
McGrone and Jacob Vega all chipped in with a single reception
The win moved the Rams’ overall record to 3-0 and added a
valuable OK Red win to the season. It also added quite a stir of
excitement to the Mona Shores contest that took place, Friday,
The Rams left the hype in Rockford when they took the trek
to take on the Mona Shores Sailors. It was an exciting matchup
that featured plenty of talent on both sides. The game
played out and fulfilled all the expectations of being a close
Photo above: Chris Corey has handled the quarterback duties for
the Rams admirably this season. Photo below: Ram running back
Jaiden Friesen has been a work horse for his team.
~ Photos by Connie Hill
contest full of exciting plays. In the end, when the final buzzer
sounded, the Rams claimed the contest by a 34-21 score and
earned 4-0 start to their season.
CONTINUES ON PAGE 4
OCTOBER, 2019 ROCKFORDROAR.COM 3
The game featured the astounding total of five rushing
touchdowns from Friesen. It also featured plenty of tough
Ram offensive line blocking and a defense that made impressive
stands when they were on the field against a potent Sailors
One of the most glaring team statistics from the game was
the fact that Rockford possessed the ball for 32:39 while Mona
Shores had it for only 15:21. Despite the difference, the final
total yardage stats were Rockford with 295 yards and Mona
Shores with 267. That was a perfect illustration of what the
Rams hoped to accomplish coming into the game of keeping
the ball away from the explosive Sailor offense while grinding
out yardage and burning the clock. Mission accomplished in
Friesen led the Ram ground attack with a sterling 208 yards
on 31 carries to go along with the five touchdowns. Junior running
back Ethan Nash accounted for 26 yards on seven carries
and fellow junior back Luke McLean made his initial foray
onto the offensive side of the ball for the Rams by accruing 18
yards on five attempts. As a team, the rushing attack netted 282
of the 295 total team offense.
It was another slow night for the defense in running up big
stats on that side of the ball. When you are only on the field for
just over a quarter of the game tackles are not easy to come by
and it showed for the second straight week. Junior linebacker
Ben Tadych, senior safety Jay Smith and senior linebacker Reid
Nicholson all had five tackles for the evening. Junior linebacker
Cole Gleason chipped in with four as well. In addition to his
big fourth down stop in the first half, McCauley added a late
interception to his solid contributions in the big Ram victory.
Besides the win, the other highlight of the evening for
Rockford was the return to the sidelines of head coach Ralph
Grant Bisbee powers through for a touchdown for the Rams.
~ Photo by Connie Hill
Munger. Having received clearance from his medical professionals,
he was back to where he has patrolled the sidelines for
the Rams since 1992.
“This was a great win for Ralph,” said Vanderveen. “We were
so happy that we got to let him feel what we have been feeling
for the first three weeks of the season. Ralph has orchestrated
this entire program and I am just fortunate to be able to
do my little part. It is a huge credit to Ralph that the cohesion
and success we have enjoyed over the first several weeks of the
season is because of the system he has developed here at Rockford.”
Munger was ecstatic to be back, it showed in his grin and
in his words.
4 ROAR MAGAZINE OCTOBER, 2019
Ben Tadych causes a fumble in the Grand Rapids Christian game.
~ Photo by Connie Hill
“We are fortunate to have a staff that has been together for
a number of years, for the most part,” Munger shared. “Chemistry
is very important to me and each coach fits very well and
each coach understands completely what our expectations are
of our young men every year.”
He continued, “We have a number of former Ram players including
Bo Mercer and Robert Banaszak on our coaching staff.
Steve Dengler, who played for me in Frankenmuth, handled
the offensive play calling while I was relegated to the bleachers
and did a wonderful job. He also organizes our Special
Teams and works with our wide recievers and defensive backs.
Randy VanderVeen handles the defense and in my opinion is
one of the best defensive coaches in the state. Rick Wilburn
helped Randy with his preparations and does plenty behind
the scenes. Bob Hieshetter handles the inside linebackers and
Bo does a great job of keeping our guys motivated and focused
on the defensive line. Scott Thompson handles the offensive
line and does everything and anything he has been asked to
do. Brent Cummings handles the running backs and takes care
of a lot of incidentals behind the scenes. For instance, he cooks
180 eggs for the players on Saturday mornings helping build
team unity while eating healthy. He also has uploaded plenty
of paperwork on the computer for our program. Banny has
joined our staff and is doing well as the quarterback coach. We
are also blessed to have a few guys who help out during game
time such as Tim and Brett Beimers, Eric Barker, and Hank Lotoszisnki,
who does a significant of amount of video work.
He continued, “We are very blessed to have a staff that is
passionate about coaching. They do an excellent job of relating
with our young men and working together professionally.
We have an amazing operation, and everything works because
of everybody. The success we have been able to enjoy and earn
over time is shared by all. It’s never been a one-man show, or
a two-man show. It is a whole bunch of people together, including
our parents who are heavily involved and our school
system that applauds our efforts to make it about more than
just football. It is student first, and athlete after that. It is very
important – school has to come first.”
Munger also is humbled and grateful for the community’s
support in the past six weeks.
“All the cards, texts, phone calls and e-mails, were greatly
appreciated. I still get very emotional about all the messages.
Just to know that there are many friends and members of the
Ram Nation who have kept my situation in their thoughts and
prayers has been felt and very comforting. I can’t tell you how
much Kathy and I appreciate it. For people to take time and
reach out truly gets your attention, I don’t take that for granted
by any means and I know Kathy doesn’t either. We are blessed.
God is great, bottom line.”
Munger talked more about his team and the rest of the 2019
“The boys have been outstanding and are a great group
from a character stand point. This group has been fun to be
around, and it’s been a pleasure to get to know them better.
They hard work and the unity they display is a perfect example
of what a true TEAM looks like. It’s made it even more enjoyable.
They hold each other accountable and enjoy each other’s
company. When they step over the lines in practice or a game,
they know it’s time to produce. The staff and players have done
an outstanding job and it’s great to see good things happen
to good people. We have been richly rewarded with many exciting
moments in the first four games of the season, now we
have to see if we can make a few more.”
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OCTOBER, 2019 ROCKFORDROAR.COM 5
JV Football Team Undefeated
When fans look to the future of a program, they always
eye the junior varsity team to see what’s coming up through
the pipe. There’s plenty of excitement when the Ram Nation
watches the results of the JV football team. Head coach Brian
Richardson’s Rams have claimed all four games during their
2019 campaign, with three of those wins in decided fashion.
The lopsided wins allowed Richardson to substitute freely and
often to gain valuable playing time for his players. At times the
sideline looked like a revolving door with players running in
and out in a constant stream.
Rockford faced off against Saginaw Heritage and earned
a 45-6 victory in Week 1. The next week they trounced Lowell
48-14. Their first true test came when they faced off against a
strong Detroit Catholic Central team, but the Rams proved
they are a force to be reckoned with, downing the Shamrocks
In their final game before press time, Thursday, Sept. 19,
Rockford faced off against the Sailors of Mona Shores. The
Rams claimed the 14-0 victory, with all their points coming
in the first quarter. The team’s first score came off a 25-yard
pass from quarterback Zak Ahern to receiver Sam Watts. Their
second score came off of a counter play to running back Gabe
Spees. It was set up by a return by Cam Whyte. The defense
worked hard all game to keep the Sailors off the board. The
win moved the Rams to 4-0.
Coach Richardson was interviewed when his team was 3-0,
just prior to the Mona Shores game.
“Up to this point, I would have to say our specials have been
pretty solid,” he shared. “Aside from a few missed PAT’s, we haven’t
made very many big mistakes. We take our special teams
very seriously and since day one we have been emphasizing
their importance to our team. We still make a ton of little mistakes,
but the guys are trying very hard to improve each week
and we as coaches, can certainly work with that.”
His defense seems to be gelling nicely.
“I feel that our defense is playing as well as can be expected
right now. We still make quite a few mistakes, but our guys are
starting to accept the importance of each person’s individual
roles and are improving each week. In the DCC game, our defense
had to make a few adjustments on the fly in that game
and the guys executed them very well.”
Ram Zak Ahern scores on a quarterback keeper against the
Lowell Red Arrows. ~ Photo by Kari Kortykowski
Richardson, and his coaching staff are now making adjustments
to the offense to make it fire on all cylinders.
“The main points of focus for us now are little things like
footwork and trusting our path, when either blocking, or running
the ball. One big area of concern that we are seeing some
growth in is our physicality. We have some talented linemen
that are only scratching the surface of their abilities right now,
and when they up their physical play, we’re going to see huge
improvements as a team.”
Richardson is looking forward to seeing all the hard work
pay off, not only now for his players, but for the future.
“Being undefeated right now is exactly where we wanted to
be, so yes, we are happy with our team right now. Every year we
have a pretty tough transition to make as we get serious about
preparing for the next level (varsity). For years many of these
guys have gotten away with being better athletes and winning
based on that.”
“Our whole focus is on becoming a TEAM, doing the little
things correctly and outworking our opponents. Things haven’t
always been easy, but this team is beginning to grasp what
that task is really all about and their starting to buy in.”
6 ROAR MAGAZINE OCTOBER, 2019
Rick Beison breaks through the Sailors’ defensive line to score a touchdown for the Rams. ~ Photo by Jeannie Gregory
Frosh Football Team Starts Season 4-0
Head coach Tim Saur’s Ram freshman football team started
off their 2019 season with a bang. The team has amassed a 4-0
record on the year and put up 131 points, while holding their
opponents to just 42.
The frosh Rams kicked off their season looking for someone
to play for their first game, Wednesday, Aug. 28. Rockford
eventually settled on playing host to the St. Johns junior
varsity team and it looked like there might be a contest. That
thought didn’t last long, however, as the Rams enjoyed a 27-6
victory. Rockford then faced off against the Lowell Red Arrows
for Week 2 and blanked their opponent by a 20-0 score. The
team followed that game with their first OK Red match-up of
the season against West Ottawa and ran away with another
win by claiming the game by a 48-14 score.
Things became a little bit dicey for the RHS freshman football
team, Thursday, Sept. 19, when they faced off against
Mona Shores. The Rams had worked their way to a 21-14 lead
when the Mona Shores Sailors turned the tide of the game. The
game had just 1:34 left in the first half when the Sailors mounted
an attack that started on their own 42-yard line. They didn’t
need much of that time, as they moved the ball two yards on
the second play and then connected on a 56-yard pass that had
them still trailing 21-20. The Sailors opted to go for a 2-point
conversion and was successful on a rush to claim a 22-21 lead
heading into the locker room. The Sailors didn’t realize it at
the time, but that would be the last scoring drive they would
have. The Rams tightened up their defense the entire second
half and turned on the jets on offense to score twice to claim
the 36-22 victory. The win moved the team’s record to 4-0 on
“The offense is a strength for our team,” said Saur. “We have
had many nice long drives that wear out the opponent and
gives our defense a rest. Our backs run hard and block. The
line is getting better at staying on blocks and driving guys. Our
quarterback (Mac VandenHout) is a great game manager and
is not afraid of much. He makes great throws under pressure
and is a leader on the team.”
He continued, “The receivers have not had a ton of chances
to catch balls this year, but when they have, they make the
catch. They are also great blockers in our run game.”
He continued, “Our special teams have been special. They
have set up our team with great field position and just this
week got a score for us. I look forward to them continuing to
make an impact in games.”
The Rams run a complicated defense throughout the program,
so there’s little surprise it is taking the freshmen longer
to learn their roles. But, Saur sees improvement.
“Our defense has started to figure out assignments and is
talking more,” he said. “We still have a lot of things to correct,
but we are coming together as a group. Defense is a tough spot
to play. Sometimes players just need to do their job and trust
that the other 10 around them will do theirs as well. When we
get players thinking they have to do everything is when the
defense falls apart.”
Even though the team has done well thus far, Saur never
loses sight of what he wants to accomplish for the football
program, win or lose.
“A coach is never happy at this point in the season,” he concluded.
“Being 4-0 makes us a little happier, but we have a ton
to do to get better and get these guys ready to be JV players
next fall. Our competition will get much tougher as we enter
the OK Red schedule and I am excited to see what this team
OCTOBER, 2019 ROCKFORDROAR.COM 7
Where Are They Now?
CLASS OF 2013
There are certain student-athletes who excel. Their performances
make fans stop and notice and watch in awe. They
are gifted with a wonderful mixture of God-given talent and
the drive of a freight train. Former Ram KC Zenner was one of
While at Rockford High School he was on the wrestling,
track and baseball teams – and don’t forget about football. KC
was a force to be reckoned with on the gridiron as a safety, but
a couple of his parts gave way his junior year – but that didn’t
mean his mind nor determination did.
At the end of January and beginning of February in 2012,
KC found himself having two surgeries on his left knee. The
two surgeries combined took about nine hours total. It was
declared that his recovery, along with rehab, would take up to
a year. No one was surprised he was back on the field for his
senior season after six months due to his unflappable drive.
And, what a season it was!
The Rams amassed a perfect 5-0 record in the OK Red, and
earned District and Regional Championships on their way to
a trip to the State Final Four. Zenner earned plenty of honors
his senior year as he helped the Rams. He was a three-year varsity
player, with the team tallying a 32-7 record during his tenure.
His senior year he served as team co-captain along with
Connor Darby, was voted team MVP, and was named to the
All-Conference First Team, All-Area Advance Team, Grand Rapids
Press All-Area Dream Team, the Detroit Free Press All-State
Team, and the Detroit News All-State Team. He also earned
Special Mention AP All-State Recognition. Amazing, considering
he was under the knife less than nine months prior, and
hurt his hand heading into the playoffs and having to wear a
club on his right hand for the remainder of the season.
Rams head coach Ralph Munger was effusive in his praise of
KC at the end of the 2012 campaign. He talked to Randy Gregory
in a Squire Newspaper interview.
KC Zenner was a force to be reckoned with as a safety for Ferris
State University. ~ Contributed Photo
“What KC put himself through during the off-season not
many would be willing to do,” said Munger. “What KC pushed
himself to overcome was a true testament to the burning passion
this young man has as a special football player. KC was
all about Rockford football. From working with the youth in
our community to having fun with his TEAMmates and classmates,
KC was a one-of-a-kind football player who represented
his TEAM, family, school and community with class.”
KC took all those attributes and his newly built knee to Ferris
The FSU website shows his accomplishments.
“Zenner was a four-year student-athlete, where he played
safety for the Bulldogs from 2013-17. Ferris State posted an
overall record of 45-7 in his four years, claiming the 2014 and
2015 GLIAC Championships and four NCAA Division II Playoff
appearances. Zenner helped lead the Bulldogs to a Super Region
4 Championship in 2016 and was an All-GLIAC selection
his 2017 season. In 2014, Zenner was selected as a USA College
Football Freshman All-American after leading the Bulldogs in
8 ROAR MAGAZINE OCTOBER, 2019
Photo at left: Connor Darby and KC Zenner served as captains
for the 2012 Ram varsity football team. Photo above: KC Zenner
coaching at Saginaw Valley State University. ~ Contributed Photos
KC graduated with a degree in Integrated Studies from Ferris
State, and went on to coach at two places before landing
his current position as Safeties Coach and Special Teams Coordinator
at Saginaw Valley State University. He was the safeties
coach at Ferris State in 2018 helping to lead the Bulldogs to an
undefeated regular season, GLIAC Championship and appearance
in the NCAA Division II National Championship game.
Ferris State posted the most victories in a single season with
15 in 2018. He then followed that with a stint at Western Michigan
University. KC joined the SVSU Football coaching staff in
March of 2019. He landed there in a round-about way.
“This spring, I was working as an analyst at Western Michigan
University when the coach who recruited me to Ferris
State took over as the head coach at SVSU. Coach Brady and I
have been together since he was in my parents’ living room in
2012 and when he offered me the position of Interim Defensive
Coordinator for spring practices, I immediately packed up the
few belongings I own and drove over to Saginaw the next day.”
Through it all, KC is grateful for the support he has received.
“I would like to thank Mike Klobucher at I’Move in Rockford.
He helped me with physical therapy after my knee surgeries
in high school and he continued to work with me after
my ankle, wrist and shoulder surgeries in college. Without
him in my life I would never have been able to play the sport
I love and I am extremely grateful for all the time and knowledge
he gave me.”
He continued, “The Rockford community has done an incredible
job of supporting me while I follow the path of my
dreams. As a young coach, you do not get paid very much
money. I would love to thank the Meyer family for taking me
in and allowing me to stay in their home while I was working
at WMU. Without them I would not be coaching at SVSU.”
KC credited some of his success, both as a player and a
coach, to his Rockford roots and Munger’s football program.
“Our defensive staff of Coach Veen, Coach Wilburn, Coach
Cummings, Coach Hieshetter and Coach Rogers all did such
an incredible job of teaching us how to prepare for success every
single day. Rockford plays a complicated defense, but the
coaching staff does such a great job of simplifying it to a point
where it all seemed so easy. Those men also did a great job of
allowing us to grow into our own skin and become confident
being ourselves. That confidence off the field translates into
the no fear, seeking to be the one, all out focus and effort every
play that everyone sees on gamedays.”
He also talks of the impact Munger himself had on him.
“Before we can even get into the coaching aspect, Coach
Munger did a great job of instilling the fact that I am a human
being and a lot more than just a football player. He loved us off
the field first and that was the base from where all his coaching
philosophy started. On the field, Coach Munger has taught
me so much about coaching, but the best lesson that I still carry
every day and try to instill in all of my players is to remove
all of your fear and doubts from your life by working so hard
and having such a focused vision on what I need to be doing
right now to make my dreams come true. The laws that govern
life do not support dreams, they support actions and its always
easier to take actions when you are confident that they will pay
off. He would always talk about, ‘The weak and frail always fail,’
and I talk about that every day to my guys. I have internalized
that message as champions make trophy-winning plays by
working themselves into a position to have a chance to make
that play 365 days a year without any certainty that they will
actually ever even be in that championship moment!”
KC seems extremely happy as a coach and the influence on
young lives that comes with it.
“Coaching sports allows me to feed my mind, body and
soul all at the same time. I get the opportunity to help the next
generation of leaders develop belief and confidence while
they sow their seeds that will develop the future of our society.
It also allows me to stay connected to a team and a be part of
a culture that is bigger than just myself while getting to chase
the dream of winning a championship and being the one who
raises that National Championship Trophy.”
And, due to the hard work and focused vision KC will instill
in his future players the dream has a great chance of becoming
OCTOBER, 2019 ROCKFORDROAR.COM 9
GIRLS OF THE GRIDIRON
‘Braids Tight, Ready to Fight’
Wednesday, Sept. 11 was a big day for Rockford middle
school football. For the first time in history, North and East
Rockford Middle Schools were pitted against each other on the
field. There are always other stories that play out as the main
event is unwinding, and this football game was no different.
In what has always been considered a “male sport” there
were two girls who suited up and played and more importantly,
contributed to the game that night. One on each side. Ava
Guernsey wears an East jersey, while Kendall Guy dons a jersey
for North. Football is not new to them, both have been playing
for years. And, in years we are talking more than eight years.
They started in the flag football program and grew into the
physical game of tackle.
Kendall’s memory is foggy when it comes to why she started
to play football.
“I was so little I don’t remember why, but I do know that
when I was two I asked for a football for Christmas and then
just decided I was going to play.”
Ava’s memory is clearer. After all, she was all of four years
“Since I was a little girl, I would always go to my older
brother Ethan’s football games while wearing little cheerleading
outfits to cheer for him. When I turned four, I asked
my parents when my season started. They didn’t know what I
meant at first. I just decided I wanted to play football myself.
It never occurred to me that football was a ‘boy’s sport.’ I wore
pink shorts and pink bows in my hair to the games. I LOVED
That was all fine and good, but the girls had to transition
to serious contact with tackle football. Even parents of boys
know this is quite a change. It hurts to get hit, there are injuries
and some shy away from it and move on. Not these two
girls of the gridiron.
Ava admitted it was “kind of” hard to transition.
“It really wasn’t that hard though,” Ava shares. “I knew tackle
was coming from watching my brother Ethan’s games, so I
Kendall Guy (left) plays football for North Rockford Middle
School and Ava Guernsey plays football for East. Both girls contribute
to their team’s offense and defense. ~ Contributed Photo
Kendall stuttered a bit in the beginning because she came
back to the sport, but it’s apparent now she loves the contact.
“It was difficult at first because I didn’t start tackle until the
fifth grade and by then most of the boys had two years of experience,
so I had to learn pretty quickly how to block and tackle
and things like that.”
10 ROAR MAGAZINE OCTOBER, 2019
Ava Guernsey playing flag football to start her career.
~ Contributed Photo
Kendall Guy showing she understands the game of football, even
when it’s flag. ~ Contributed Photo
Ava Guernsey before she turned in her cheerleading outfit for a
football jersey. ~ Contributed Photo
Kendall plays fullback on offense and cornerback on defense
for North. Ava adds her skills in the positions of cornerback
and running back and then is also on Special Teams for
There is a certain camaraderie that comes from such a team
sport, and Ava is quick to point it out as a reason she loves the
“It feels like another family, they all treat me like I’m a brother
or one of the guys. It doesn’t bother me at all that I am the
only girl on the team. I do think, though, that it’s pretty cool
to all wear our jerseys on Wednesdays (game days) and know I
am the only girl at our school that can walk around wearing a
football jersey. I really like my teammates. They have accepted
me since I was little. After all, I’ve been playing football just as
long as many of them have. They know I’ve been playing and
have seen me at camp, or they have been on one of my teams
over the years. I’m just one of the guys for the most part.”
And then she adds with a smile, “Although I will say the
boys get weirded out by holding my hand as we walk out onto
Kendall shares she has been playing football for so long
she doesn’t even think about being the only girl. She says the
coaches are as accepting as her teammates.
“The coaches treat me just like the rest of the guys on the
field. If they address the team as boys they always add, ‘and
It is not lost on either girl they carry plenty of inspiration
for the community’s girls.
“I do think I inspire girls to try new things because over the
years I have had people tell me their daughters heard that I
play and now they want to play football,” shares Kendall.
Ava adds, “I hope I inspire other girls to try new things! We
don’t need sports to be called a ‘girls sport’ for us to play it.
All girls can play or do whatever they put their mind to and
accomplish it, it just takes a little courage!”
Ethan Guernsey, Ava’s brother is a senior on the varsity
football team who plays running back and cornerback for the
Rams. He shares that Ava inspires him, also.
“I think it’s pretty cool that we both play the same positions.
Ava’s work ethic, attitude, and personality impress me
the most. She always works extremely hard at what she does,
while keeping a positive attitude. Also, her personality is like
no other, she is always very outgoing and kind to all. Ava inspires
me a lot. No matter how difficult her day was, she always
comes home super positive and I give her tremendous
amounts of credit for that. I know it’s rare for a brother to tell
people that his sister plays football, but when I do, I am very
proud of her! She proves that she can do whatever she puts her
heart and mind into.”
CONTINUES ON PAGE 12
OCTOBER, 2019 ROCKFORDROAR.COM 11
Ethan Guernsey and Ava Guernsey are both part of the Rockford
Football Program. ~ Photo by Silver Gallery Photography
That determination of both girls overcame the doubts their
“Honestly, it all started when she was a tiny little girl,” shares
Carey Guernsey. “Who were we to tell her she couldn’t play?
Little did we know she would be continuing on and playing
through flag, rocket and now still playing into middle school
football. She’s not just a girl that plays football, she’s a girl who
has earned the honor playing football and has been told she
deserves to be there, no different than any one of the boys.”
Shelley Guy was worried at first, it took Kendall herself to
“I definitely have mixed feelings about her playing football.
I did not want her to play tackle. In fact, I made her switch to
soccer in third and fourth grade because of this. She missed
football and constantly reminded me. I still let her attend all
the camps because they were non-contact. After camp, prior to
fifth grade, she wrote a persuasive essay with all the reasons I
should let her play football and she ended it with, ‘You always
tell me that girls can do anything!’ We went out and bought
her gear that night. I am extremely proud of her for having the
courage to do what she loves. She’s one determined kid!”
They are enjoying this football season, but the question
looms on whether they will continue to play.
Ava is unsure.
“I never know,” she shares. “I just take it year by year. Every
year at the end of the season, I never know if it was my last
game or not. It would be sad to be done playing football.”
If she does stop she’d undoubtedly be sad because of how
she describes the game.
“Honestly, it’s just FUN! I enjoy it! I guess I really like to be
part of the team. I like the friendships I have made. I like all
of the crazy inside jokes all of us have. I like the enthusiasm
and excitement on game days. I like tackling people! It’s pretty
Kendall Guy shows she loved football even when she was a
toddler. She slept with the football she received from Santa for
Christmas. ~ Contributed Photo
awesome to have all sorts of adrenaline and take your energy
out on the field!”
Kendall is very sure.
“I will definitely play in ninth grade and I hope to continue
to play through high school.”
That might be when they finally share a team. For right
now, though, they support each other and look to the future.
They also quiet the doubters.
“I have had people tell me, girls don’t play football, or, I
didn’t know there is a girls football team, or, are you the team
manager? I just smile! I have heard people ask my parents why
they let their daughter play such a dangerous sport, or if they
were afraid for me, or how do you know your daughter is safe
or won’t get hurt. I just wonder, why is it any different, just because
I am a girl?”
With grit, determination and courage they have proven it
12 ROAR MAGAZINE OCTOBER, 2019
The Rockford football program has plenty of traditions that are carried on by the athletes and parent volunteers and orchestrated by
Tim and Pam Beimers behind the scenes. . ~ Photo by Connie Hill
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Rams Football Program Runs on all Cylinders
After the Ram football team’s victory on the road over the
Mona Shores Sailors, Friday, Sept. 20, there were two people
in the crowd who were waiting for the players. One was Pam
Beimers, the other was her grandson, Dayvontae, 7. They had
plenty of food to hand out to their hungry Rams. The team had
certainly worked up an appetite after their exciting 34-21 win.
Pam, along with her husband Tim, have been taking care
of the Rams in the football program for many years. The duo
does it quietly and humbly.
Dayvontae revels in helping Pam take care of the team and
is the third generation of the family to dedicate themselves to
the Rockford football program. She calls him her “little helper.”
Pam and Tim have five boys, Tim, Brett, Luke, Jordan and Caleb,
who all played football as Rams. The duo also has a daughter,
Amber, who is sometimes forgotten by some due to existing
amidst all the family testosterone. The Beimers now have
20 grandchildren to love. Line them up and count them and
that is the number of years they have helped meld the football
program. Don’t forget it’s a volunteer position.
CONTINUES ON PAGE 14
OCTOBER, 2019 ROCKFORDROAR.COM 13
Pam, a 1979 RHS graduate, reminisces about how she and
Tim became involved.
“Our eldest, Tim, had played as a freshman and a sophomore,
but didn’t work out much in the summer leading into
his junior year. Tim knew he hadn’t put in the time and was
torn about going out. Well, Coach Munger called our house
to talk to him. He said, ‘You know, you probably won’t play a
lot this year, but I see a lot of potential.’ We were so impressed
that he cared enough to call. We saw a change in Tim and were
so impressed that Ralph took the time to make that call. It really
meant something to us. One day we said, ‘Hey, thanks for
calling, if there’s ever anything we can do to help let us know.
Well, 20 years later here we are.”
Pam laughs at the memory.
“I think after we said that and he saw we had five boys he
thought, hmmmm, they’re going to be around the program
for a long time.”
They have, indeed, been around the program a long time.
Each boy played for Munger and he has fond memories of all
of them in high school. Their final son, Caleb, graduated in
2012, and yet they still stay and help.
“All of them were consummate team players,” shares Munger.
“Some of them didn’t play a lot, but they appreciated being
a part of something bigger than themselves. The family had
perspective and were happy they were part of the team. Amber
is like Pam Beimers the second. All the kids are smart as a
Munger recalls when he left Frankenmuth to come to Rockford
“When I first came over here, we had different moms controlling
different things. A group of parents who wanted to
“meet the new coach” invited me to Bob and Ann Wilson’s.
They told me what they had been doing in the program and it
seemed like an awful lot. First, I listened to them. They asked
me, do you want to continue this? That? And then I shared my
vision with them. Everyone was always more than accepting
of this idea or that idea. Judy Saunders did a great job of help
with two-a-days. Others who were deeply involved were Helen
Phillips and Frank and Wendy Savickas. Carol Tower was also
very involved. Then the Beimers came into the picture with five
kids entering the program. We all worked side by side in the
program to help give it direction and help it grow.”
And, grow it did, into the program you see today. A program
that has a legendary coach at its helm and one that other
schools look up to. Munger built it into what it is - a well-oiled
machine that requires plenty of decisions and orchestration
each day. The “season” actually starts in February and runs all
the way until December. There is plenty to keep everyone in
Tim and Pam Beimers have spent the last 20 years volunteering
for the Rockford Football Program. ~ Contributed Photo
the program busy.
“Carol had a binder that she kept track of everything in and
I still have that binder to this day,” shares Pam.
Of course, Pam’s duties have grown right along with the
program and its many traditions. She lists just some of the
items that she oversees, including the budget and communications.
She mentions there are 26 committees that help her
keep the ball rolling and how grateful she is for all the parent
14 ROAR MAGAZINE OCTOBER, 2019
The Beimers family in 2004. Amber is in front and from left to right are: Tim, Caleb, Luke, Jordan, and Brett. Pam and Tim are behind
their children. All have been involved in the Rockford Football Program in different capacities. ~ Contributed Photo
What the program requires is mind-boggling, considering
the depth of the roster. There is the End of Season Banquet,
spirit committee, sub moms, yard signs, hill signs, booster reps,
concession people, two-a-days food menus, making sure they
are food-safe certified, freshman binders, and FUNdamental
Camp. There are team meals, weekly e-mails, the golf outing
and the annual Hots n Brats event, too. Some committees cover
a one-time event, some continue through the season. Not to
mention, the day-to-day communications, programs, rosters
and myriad of other items that need attention.
Tim has spent countless hours, also, behind the scenes of
Ram football. He spent a lion’s share of time overseeing and
working concessions in past years. Ram Fans can see him patrolling
the sidelines during varsity games.
Munger gave Pam the title of DFO, Director of Football Operations.
“The DFO affords the coach the opportunity to coach. I
don’t have to give a lot of personal attention to the details that
are required. I come up with ideas, maybe get them started,
and Pam takes it from there. She answers the questions that
come up. Plenty of parents have expressed thanks for Pam and
Tim’s help. They are so deeply entrenched in Rockford football
it would be very difficult to do all the things we do without
them. They are definitely invaluable.”
The question begs to be asked why the Beimers continue to
do all that work even though their sons are no longer playing.
Although, their eldest sons Tim and Brett, are still coaching
with the Rams. They are on the sidelines every Friday night
filming and coaching the offense.
Still, most parent volunteers “graduate” when their sons do.
“It’s just protecting the integrity of the program and keeping
it operating. We love seeing what Ralph does with the
boys. He has earned the respect we have for him. People see
the coach in front of the stands, but they don’t see that when
someone gets hurt he goes and visits them, and continues to
call them. He cares. The coaches throughout his program are
about building character and building men, it’s not just about
the game, it’s about life. Ralph’s influence is everywhere. You
see it in how many former players come back to coach in the
program, and in those who coach football at other schools.”
Pam continues, “We like to stay in the background and run
things so the kids can shine. It’s all about them. The players
are always so respectful. They always say thank you and please,
and always address us by name. The players always buy into
the system’s expectations. They learn to treat others the way
you want to be treated. The program molds these boys into
“It’s fun to watch and even more fun when we win.”
OCTOBER, 2019 ROCKFORDROAR.COM 15
Gamm Works His Way Back to Hardcourt
It’s no secret that basketball is a physical sport. Players go
all-out with no protection and injuries happen on the hardcourt
every day. Twisted ankles, blown knees, and torn ACLs
can occur, but heads can also fall victim to the close physical
contact that happens under the rim. Just ask 2017 Rockford
High School graduate Ryan Gamm. He was a stand out as a
Ram, a 3-year varsity player who developed into a starter his
final two years. Ryan played center as a Ram and was a tri-captain
his final season with Jason Majerle and Teague Farley.
During his final season as a Ram, Ryan was named Team
MVP, and also earned All-Conference, All-Area, Honorable
Mention BCAM All-State, and Academic All-State honors. He
was also named to the Cornerstone Classic All-Tournament
Team. He earned all the accolades despite suffering a considerable
injury during that senior season.
“Ryan suffered a tough ankle injury against Grandville his
senior season, and for some it could have easily kept them out
a month,” shares RHS head coach Kyle Clough. “Not Ryan. The
next day he was on the court doing what the trainers let him,
and then some.”
It was his way as an athlete.
“Ryan was a workhorse,” Clough continues. “He came in to
practice every day ready to compete. It didn’t matter if he was
healthy, or injured, you rarely knew because he just always
practiced hard and never complained.”
That work ethic would be important as Gamm left the halls
of Rockford and moved his game to Hope College’s hardcourt.
Ryan was ready to contribute to the Flying Dutchmen as
a freshman as a power forward and center. It didn’t pan out
that way. Unfortunately, “friendly fire” took him down after
suffering an elbow to the face right before the team’s second
pre-season game. Ryan only missed the first two games but in
the highly competitive fast-moving game of college basketball
the setback cost him playing time and a full rotation spot
for some of the season. He passed concussion baseline testing
and protocol and worked his way back to a full-time rotation
player after about 12 games, roughly almost half of the team’s
Ryan worked hard in the off-season to prepare for his sophomore
campaign. As fate would have it, a number of obstacles
would occur that would test him.
“Friendly fire” would bring him down again, this time
during preseason workouts. It was the first full week back at
school. The concussion had him missing three weeks of conditioning.
And, to add to Ryan’s troubles, he came down with flu
the second week of practice and was sent home from school.
Former Ram Ryan Gamm (No. 5) is a power forward and center
for Hope College. ~ Contributed Photo
With his resistance to infection down, he also was diagnosed
with strep the following week. Ryan healed and headed back
to the court. As he regained his footing, Ryan took another
elbow to the side of his head and went back into protocol. A
third hit to the head in his sophomore year happened just one
game after he was cleared and kept him out six more weeks.
16 ROAR MAGAZINE OCTOBER, 2019
Ryan Gamm was a standout for the Rams basketball team and known for his hustle and work ethic. ~ Contributed Photo
Ryan was not only frustrated he was also concerned about
the head injuries.
“(I was) nervous,” he shares. “And, a little gun shy. But a trip
in January to see Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, a renowned Sports Concussion
Specialist clarified and classified my injuries in a way
that cleared me and put my mind at ease. I took a few hits even
but didn’t worry that I would go out again.”
As he healed, Ryan went to every preseason workout, practice,
and game with his team. He also worked through the
emotion of losing most of both his first two seasons at Hope.
“It was tough,” says Ryan. “Freshman year I was on a path to
make a big contribution and that was the worst of the injuries
all around. It also impacted my school work.”
“Last year it was, ‘Am I ever going to get back?’ I was in the
best shape of my life going into the fall and never got back to
that level all season. It was frustrating, but I knew I wanted to
be back, so I relied on faith, family, and my basketball family
to keep me positive.”
His dedication paid off and he was able to return for the
final 13 games of the season.
He looks back at the last two years as full of growth as an
athlete – and as a person.
He shares, “What helped me was learning, albeit later in the
process, that there are things you can do to help head injuries
- see a specialist, do some physical and occupational therapy,
things like that. Overall, it is to allow yourself to be helped.
Deal with the emotions head on. And be prepared to work
harder than ever and go all-out every day because you never
know when something might be taken away for good.”
He also points to his time as a Ram as helping him deal with
“I learned how to handle adversity at Rockford after some
injuries that could have really sidelined me as a junior and senior.
I’d like to give a shout-out to my former teammates like
Jason (Majerle) and Teague (Farley) who dealt with injuries
and adversity, too, and showed me through how they handled
it how to approach my own adversity.”
“Also, to coach Clough who encouraged me through my
ups and downs the last two years and still stays in touch. I will
be a Ram for life.”
Ryan learned another important lesson.
“That I’m more resilient than I thought, mentally, emotionally
and even physically. (I learned) I can stare down and conquer
adversity with a positive mindset and approach.”
of NE Grand Rapids
OCTOBER, 2019 ROCKFORDROAR.COM 17
Gustafson Shines on Cycling Circuit
People who know Ram sports know that Judah Gustafson
has been on the track & field team the past three seasons. But,
there is another sport Judah participates in that most in the
community don’t even know about. The Ram senior is an outstanding
Judah races for several teams. Rockford’s Speed Merchants
sponsors his mountain and cyclocross racing, and he rides on
the road with the Michigan junior team called Junior Cycle
Sport. Judah was also invited the last two years to ride for a
team out of Minnesota called NorthStar for a UCI junior world
tour in Canada.
Judah has cycling in his veins, and it all started back when
he was just six. It was then he had a dollar burning a hole in
his pocket and he purchased his first bike at a garage sale. He
just rode his bike around in his early years, but something
“I started becoming more serious about biking in the seventh
grade,” he shares. “I started competing when I was 12. The
first race I did was a criterium in East Grand Rapids called the
Gaslight Crit. That summer I also started competing in some
mountain bike races. After a few years of racing locally, I decided
to take the next step and competed in the 2016 Cyclocross
National Championships. Every year from then on, I have
raced at a national championship and done well.”
That “well” has included eight state championships, 12
national competitions, landing in the top 25 in nine of the
events. This past summer, he competed in the USA Cycling
“I had a rough start to nationals with a 38th place in the
Time Trial. The next day I didn’t race the best I could, but managed
a 25th place and was happy with that. For Criterium on
the last day, I was not feeling good at all and had a bad start.
Somehow on the last lap I heard my coach encouraging me
and I had a burst of energy for a 15th place finish. I was really
surprised I managed to do that and was extremely happy with
how the week finished.”
He was also selected to be on a team that competed in the
Junior Nations Cup. Judah explains how he was able to join the
cycling stage race in Western Quebec, Canada.
“A couple years ago I attended a USA Cycling Talent ID camp
where they did all kinds of testing and we got to know some
It’s not always a clean sport. Judah Gustafson after one of his
cycling races. ~ Contributed Photo
of the USAC officials and teams. Results of all that testing are
published for teams and coaches to see. One of the coaches
from Minnesota heard about my results at the camp, as well
as some of my previous results at nationals. They reached out
to me about going to Canada and I met them a few months
before the race. I was really happy to be a part of Northstar,
they have been really accepting of me and are some of my best
18 ROAR MAGAZINE OCTOBER, 2019
The elite cycling stage race encompassed six days and seven
stages that covered a daunting 450 miles.
Judah explains the ups and downs of competing at that level,
and how he prepared for it.
“I was totally pumped, but extremely nervous. I had never
done a race that high profile and didn’t know what to expect.
I felt well prepared. It is grueling no matter what, but my
coaches had me doing long rides and hard efforts spaced out
at specific intervals to get my legs ready. I practiced nutrition
and hydration, proper sleep and other recovery methods.
At the race, I would make sure to take ice baths and protein
shakes to keep my body ready for the hard days. Of course, I
was exhausted, but I kept getting stronger and more confident
through the week, which was a good sign.”
He continues, “Every day was different, the first day I was
nervous about crashing, the 3rd day I was really tired, the last
day I was feeling sick at the start. I mostly tried to ignore how
I felt during the week. This helped me focus and not make excuses
when things got difficult. At the end of almost every race,
I felt really strong and motivated. The way I felt at the start
ended up not being relevant to my stage result anyway.”
It was hard on him emotionally as well as physically.
“Several times, I was ready to give up. In one stage I flatted
and had to stop so our team car could get me a new wheel.
Then after they left, I got a flat on the other wheel. By the time
they came back, the whole race caravan had already passed. I
had to ride by myself for a good 20 minutes weaving in and
out of all the team support cars. I’ve never put out such a hard
effort. Getting back to the peloton was the only way to stay in
the race, otherwise I would have missed the time cut and been
done. Another time, I was in a group that got separated from
the leaders and had to work equally as hard to catch back up.
I am so glad I didn’t give up though. In the end, I finished well
and learned a lot.”
For his efforts, Judah earned MVP for the NorthStar team.
“The team coaches and staff choose an MVP based on overall
and stage results, team ethos and leadership. My coaches
selected me due to consistent top 20 finishes throughout the
week, including a seventh and sixth place on the last two stages.
It is important to note that though I was the MVP, there’s no
way I could have done it without my teammates who blocked,
pulled me to the front and helped me with water and nutrition
all through the week. Many people don’t know how much of
a team sport cycling is. We all relied on each other on and off
the bike. Whether we were racing towards the finish line, getting
bottles from the car, or even walking to the awful group
showers, we acted as a team and made sure everyone was part
of the group. I was happy to receive the award, but honestly,
I was just doing the same thing that all my teammates were
doing. We all put in our hardest efforts every day and worked
together for one goal. Most days, our goal just happened to
be working to get a good result for me. Since most days we
worked hard for that goal and reached it, I was able to have a
good result thanks to them.”
His success has required plenty of practice, and Judah
shares where he rides for each discipline and how much time
and effort he has to dedicate to his sport. There are many venues
in the area that support his love of cycling.
“For mountain biking, I ride at Luton Park, Merrell, Cannsonsburg
Ski Area and the State Game Area. For Cyclocross, I
often train at Rogue River Park, where there are great trails and
obstacles to practice with. I also love going down to Riverside
Park in Grand Rapids, people often look at us like we’re crazy,
Judah Gustafson practices for many different disciplines in
cycling. ~ Contributed Photo
jumping on and off our bikes and whatnot.
On the road, I ride all over Kent County for training. There
are many weekly shop rides I join with others out of Speed
Merchants Bike Shop in Rockford. And, there is a weekly training
race on Wednesdays at the Grattan Raceway all through
the summer that is great competition. Even some local professionals
show up there pretty regularly. I ride about 6000 miles
per year, so depending on the discipline, it’s over 100 miles per
week. Mountain biking is usually slower, so the mileage is less.
For that reason, my coaches usually have me train by time.”
It can’t be denied that Judah lives in Michigan and winter
weather is not conducive to training, but Judah has a solution
to the snow and ice.
“We have rollers and a trainer that I ride in the garage,” he
shares. “Usually, I will watch some movies and workout videos.
It’s hard to keep going, but I know that it will be worth the
effort in the end. The winter is one of the most crucial parts
of training because that is where I have to work to get all my
He enjoys the guidance of coach Eric Forrester and his dad,
Scott, for his racing. Forrester is a former professional cyclist
that lives in Rockford.
Judah’s wish is for others to discover the joy of cycling.
“It is a really fun and rewarding sport. More kids need to try
it, especially those that don’t gravitate towards the big sports
like football and baseball. Because most schools don’t have a
cycling team, it’s tough to find people to ride with. I grew up
doing most of my training with a bunch of older men.
For now, Judah will practice and compete, continuing to
cycle toward his dreams.
“My future goal for cycling would be to get on a professional
team and make this my job,” he shares. “The next step for me
would be to go to a college that has a varsity cycling program
and hopefully receive some scholarship money.”
OCTOBER, 2019 ROCKFORDROAR.COM 19
The Rams equestrian team celebrate earning Reserve Champions. Front row (L-R): seniors, Carmen Skornia, Cassidy Lee, Kara Veltema,
Tiffany Nyenhuis. Second row: Lillian Veltema, Lianna Bolen, Abby Tichelaar, Helena Cary, Sydney Rickerd, Colin Harju, Katelyn
Peck. Third row: Groom, Deston Priest. ~ Contributed Photo
RHS Features Equestrian Team
Rockford High School offers athletes
many opportunities with a variety
of sports. One of the most obscure, yet
most entertaining is the equestrian club
team. What’s more surprising is that the
team has been around since the fall of
1987. An interesting fact is that a mother
and daughter duo connect that initial
equestrian team with the current one.
Sabrina Nyenhuis was on the team in its
inaugural year, her daughter, Tiffany is
on this year’s team.
Tiffany is joined by 12 other riders
who compete. Colin Harju is the sole
male rider on this year’s team.
“I don’t think of it as a predominately
female sport,” he said. “We’re all competitors.
It’s not a ‘I need to beat this girl’
attitude. Gender plays no role in that.”
The team also features Grooms and
four coaches. The team’s season starts
in June and concludes with State competition
in the fall. There is a total of 17
events during each competition.
Team representative Jennifer Lee explains,
“So many things go into an equestrian
team. First, each rider is slotted for
certain events and each rider is put into
an event that is their strong point.
“There is English, Saddle Seat, Equitation
over fences (jumpers), Western,
and also speed events. Each discipline of
riding has different outfits for the rider
and different equipment.”
She continued explaining the competitive
sport, “This is all on the players
and team to take on themselves. Many of
the show outfits are very costly and can
run into the thousands if bought brand
new. The Rockford equestrian team relies
on a community closet of outfits,
saddles, and equipment that gets passed
on through the years. Most of the riders
have bought their equipment on their
own as well.”
20 ROAR MAGAZINE OCTOBER, 2019
Rockford’s Abby Tichelaar competes in one of the many disciplines featured in an
equestrian competition. ~ Contributed Photo
Lee continues, “Parents and helpers,
called Grooms, play a huge contribution
during these events, and in practice. Not
only do they haul the horses, but they
also need to get the next outfit ready, or
get the horse tacked for their next event.
Sometimes you only have minutes to do
that. Other times, you may have a few
hours. Parents also keep a stall just for
food that the team and entourage all
help themselves throughout the day.
They do not go hungry on meet days!”
There was a night when senior Cassidy
Lee’s horse Timmy didn’t go hungry,
either. Last year at the District competition
Timmy managed to open his stall
and was loose all night. Timmy had an
exciting night eating all the food and
hay lining the stalls in the barn. He was
found the next morning in front of a
“He partied like a rock star all night
long and then slept through the whole
day in between his events,” shared Lee.
“It was the calmest he was at any competition.”
Obviously the above descriptions
show the sport has plenty of obstacles
that most mainstream sports don’t have.
It’s not always light-hearted stories,
but in the end, the equestrian community
always comes together. This year,
rider Kaitlyn Peck’s horse she was leasing
died before the season began. A
former e-team member, Sam Veltema,
stepped up and let Kaitlyn use her horse
this year. Bayleigh Cole’s horse got sick
as the season began and former e-team
member, Natalie O’Connell stepped in
with her horse to use during the season.
“The support the riders all get from
each other is amazing,” said Lee. “They
band together and help each other out.”
The school’s team this year has already
competed in the District level for
two weekends at Lowell Fairgrounds.
The Rams were named Reserve Champions.
The team will compete in the Regionals
that will take place at the Mason-Ingham
County Fairgrounds September
28-29. The “A” division, which they are
in, has four teams that will compete and
the top two teams will advance to the
Michigan Interscholastic Horsemanship
Association (MIHA) State Championship
at Midland County Fairgrounds
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OCTOBER, 2019 ROCKFORDROAR.COM 21
Ram Boede Mitchell works around opponents to shoot a goal in recent action. ~ Photo by Tracy Saur
Rams Water Polo Clicking in Pool
Ram varsity water polo head coach Craig Peterman had the
unenviable task of taking over the reins from Jon Haga. He
also lost three talented Rams to graduation, so he had plenty
of holes to fill in his roster. But, he had a plan, and it seems to
be coming along nicely. The Rams are currently holding a 14-5
record and are ranked No. 3 in the state. Most of the team’s
losses are understandable considering the rankings. The Rams
suffered two losses to No. 1 Hudsonville and two losses to No.
2 Dexter. Their only unexpected loss came at the hands of Ann
“At first it was a rocky start with the transition due to a completely
new coaching staff,” shared Peterman. “As the season
has moved along, the team is now beginning to make a better
transition. The team still has some work to do from last year,
but with their hard work ethic we are getting there little by
little. Overall, the season is going well. We have had a few hiccups
along the way, but we are getting better all the time. The
team has shown great strides from the first few practices to
where we are at now.”
The team is also adapting to the loss of Zach Burns, Kyle Arend,
and Gavin Saur.
“As a whole, the team is beginning to gel more and more,”
said Peterman. “We are figuring out good rotations and what
guys are working well with each other. As a team, we are also
having a great deal of fun while we are competing at the highest
level we can play at. The team is also continuing to improve
day-by-day and are willing to learn new things.”
Peterman is happy to report the adjustments are coming in
“A big surprise to me is how quickly some of our incoming
freshman and new players have adapted to the high school
game of water polo. We have 12 freshmen and they are working
extremely hard to learn the ways of high school. Another
surprise is that we have been able to move a few JV players
up to varsity and they are showing some great promise to the
team for the future.”
Peterman continued, “The way they support each other is
by having a great deal of fun during practices and games. They
all hang out with each other and enjoy each other’s company.
The team ticks by pushing each other to become the best they
can be by constructive criticism. This team is a great group to
coach. They feed off of each other’s energy and always push
“As a coaching staff, we are extremely proud of how they are
adapting to the changes. They are all working hard and striving
for the best.”
22 ROAR MAGAZINE OCTOBER, 2019
Photo above: Keeper Logan Harris blocks a shot. Photo below left: Nate Hopkins looks to shoot. Photo below right: Drew Bargwell
stifles an opponent on defense. ~ Photos by Tracy Saur
OCTOBER, 2019 ROCKFORDROAR.COM 23
Volleyball Team Netting Gains
Head coach Kelly Delacher is always working to prepare
his Rams for not only the always competitive OK Red, but for
the playoffs. Their record at press time was 13-10-1. It’s not all
about records, however, it’s about playing experience against
tough opponents. Recently one of those opponents was perennial
powerhouse Lakewood High School. Head coach Kellie
Rowland had built a volleyball dynasty in her 22 years at
the helm and turned over the reins to her son Cam last year. In
2017, the Vikings worked their way to yet another State Finals,
where they lost to Notre Dame Prep to earn runner-up status
in Division 2. In 2018 under Cam’s leadership, the team made
it to the State Semifinals.
The Rams didn’t seem to be too overwhelmed by the Vikings
impressive past, however, as they took them down on
the court 2-1.
The win was doubly impressive considering Rockford
dropped the first set 22-25, before winning the second two 25-
16 and 15-13. Rockford notched 28 kills as a team, with freshman
Lizzie Macintosh pacing the Rams with nine, followed by
senior Claire Phillips with eight, and sophomore Ava Young
slamming down four. Macintosh also notched five aces for the
match, while Annie Macintosh tallied three. On the defensive
side of the ball, senior Madelyn Long registered 13 digs, and
sophomore Alina Anderson had six. Sophomore setter Mackenzie
Delacher had 22 assists for the game.
“We are off to a good start and are learning a lot about ourselves
and what our strengths and weaknesses are,” shared
Delacher. “We have been working hard to get ready for the
tough OK Red schedule. We have been making steady gains
from week to week. We have been getting better offensively
and are fine tuning our defense. We had a great week last week
with the big win against Lakewood. We have played a tough
schedule and are working to be better late in sets.”
Delacher likes what he is seeing on the court.
“We have a great mix of senior leadership with nine players,
mixed with some very talented sophomores and freshmen. The
upperclassmen are really pushing the youngsters to be great.”
If you look at the program’s roster, you will see plenty of
repeating last names.
We have a great “sisters” program within our entire program.
So, there is great unity from freshmen to JV to varsity.
(Right now) our short-term goals are to be successful in our
OK Red matches. Our long-term goals are to improve weekly
and play our best volleyball in the state tournament.”
That’s exactly what the Rams did last year as the team peaked
as they worked their way through the playoffs all the way to
the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s State Finals.
Looking at his track record, Delacher is sure to have his team
ready again in 2019.
Photo top: Mackenzie Delacher sets for one of the team’s heavy
hitters. Photo bottom: Madelyn Long and Alina Anderson prepare
for an opponent’s serve. Photo opposite page: The Rams celebrate
earning a point during recent volleyball action.
~ Photos by Jeannie Gregory
24 ROAR MAGAZINE OCTOBER, 2019
OCTOBER, 2019 ROCKFORDROAR.COM 25
The Rockford High School Varsity Tennis Team. Front Row (L-R): Samuel Danner, Reese Kent, Ben Lewis, Xavier Gee, Brett Mehling,
and Nathan Frost. Back Row (L-R): Kent Burns, Caleb Werdon, Luke Johnson, TJ Maskell, Jake Osborn, Xander Werdon, Will Van Eck
and Coach Tom Huizing. ~ Photo by Douglas Photography
Rams Face Off Against the Best
The Rams varsity tennis team is enjoying a great start to
their season. The team has amassed an 8-3 record and landed
a fourth, third and first-place finish in tournaments as they
kicked off their 2019. Head coach Tom Huizing is extremely
happy with how things are going on the tennis courts.
“We don’t sugar coat our schedule. We want to be the best,
so we play the best. We travel to the east side of the state to
play the top D1 teams and we also play the top area teams in
their respective divisions. West Michigan has a phenomenal
tennis history. The competition is incredible, and I can honestly
say that we don’t have a single guaranteed win on our
conference or non-conference schedule and I wouldn’t have it
any other way. I love the battle and I teach the guys to love it
as well. That’s why we are at our best come tournament time.”
Heading into the season, Huizing knew there would be
challenges, but he seems to revel in them.
“I’m having a lot of fun this season. Eight of our 14 players
are new to the varsity team. When you lose eight guys from
a top 10 team in the state, most coaches will tell you it’s a rebuilding
year. For me, I don’t look at it like that. I see it as a
coaching opportunity. These guys can play some high-quality
tennis. If they work hard and give it their all, that’s all I can
ask for. I’m proud of our developmental programs on the JV
level. Coach Drollett, Coach Keating and Coach Witt do a fantastic
job preparing these underclassmen for varsity play. This
is why we can have eight sophomores on the team with limited
varsity experience and still have a chance to win the Red.”
Huizing doesn’t allow the team’s inexperience to be the reason
for losses, however.
26 ROAR MAGAZINE OCTOBER, 2019
“The wins and losses are on me. If we don’t win, I didn’t do
a good enough job preparing them, I’m there to teach them
how to win. I see the team as a blank slate, I can mold these
guys into winners, but if I’m not up to the challenge we will
come up short. So, for me, it’s a coaching goal. What can I do
and how can I help turn this inexperience into winning tennis?
I love the challenge. I love diving deep into the coaching
tool box and finding ways to help these guys grow.”
One on his team carries plenty of experience – No. 1 Singles
player senior TJ Maskell.
“He takes full ownership of his game,” shares Huizing. “I
love this kid. He has so many great attributes in his game. I
wish I could turn back time and play tennis with the weapons
that he possesses. TJ is setting himself up to win a conference
and regional title. He is undefeated in conference and traditionally
the conference champ has a chance to win regionals.
In tennis, you can qualify as a 1 singles player for the state final
if you are the champ or runner up in regionals. In my 15 years
of coaching at Rockford, I’ve never had a No. 1 boys singles
player do that. I think TJ will be the one. He never stops. He
works so hard outside of the season to be the player he is. In
this day of age in sports, you get better in the off season, not
during the season. TJ and his family know this, and they have
been taking every step to prepare him. He has a will and drive
and belief to beat anyone.”
Despite their youth, Huizing is impressed with the team’s
They are young and inexperienced, but they are loaded
with potential. I love this about this group of players. They
haven’t backed down to a fight. They have come up short at
times, but I know they have it in them to win, no matter the
Ram senior TJ Maskell handles the No. 1 Singles flight for the
Rockford High School Varsity Tennis Team.
~ Photo by Douglas Photography
situation. The term I’ve been thinking that we can embrace is,
‘No situation is too big for us.’ They are starting to believe in
this philosophy and that’s what makes a great team.”
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OCTOBER, 2019 ROCKFORDROAR.COM 27
Soccer Team Earning Wins
The Rams varsity soccer team has kicked off their 2019 campaign
in a big way, taking plenty of opponents by surprise.
Head coach Stu Quackenbush’s Rams have tallied an overall
record of 8-1-1 and have gone 4-0-1 in the tough OK Red. At
the Week 3 mark, the team had received enough votes to be
ranked No. 6 in Division 1.
That didn’t impress Quackenbush all that much.
“I have a personal aversion to rankings. I always say they are
worth about as much as they weigh.”
The Rams started off their season reeling in three consecutive
victories. They topped Jackson 1-0, Detroit U-D Jesuit 1-0
and then beat Lowell in a home match-up 2-0. The team then
kicked off their OK Red schedule against Caledonia and ended
in a 1-1 tie. The team then topped two more Red opponents,
beating Grand Haven 3-1 and then eking out an impressive 1-0
victory over East Kentwood. The team then faced off against
the Hudsonville Eagles and fell 2-0.
The loss to Hudsonville didn’t seem to break the Rams’
stride, however, as they earned three more consecutive wins.
The team downed West Ottawa 3-1, Grandville 2-0, and followed
with a 3-1 victory over Grand Ledge.
“I’m not surprised with where we are at,” said Quackenbush.
“I wouldn’t have predicted our record, but I’m not surprised
we are here. Soccer games come down to inches and we
are working our opponents. It will be hard to maintain, but
they can do it. The team is working hard every day and if they
continue to do that we will have a strong and fun finish.”
Quackenbush has plenty of weapons on his roster.
“There are a lot of new faces on the team and they are doing
a great job of buying into the program. They are humble and
coachable and are playing big minutes and making big plays.
They are a big part of why we are successful.”
The Ram coach also points to his senior leadership as a
huge part of the team’s success. There are 10 on the team and
includes keeper Jack Hanssen. The roster also includes seniors
Kyle Switzer, Max Dalton, Nolan Quada, Jack Wildes, Adam
Goushaw, Jacob Rademacher, Sayvion Young, Dominic Meinke
and Ian Johnson.
“It all starts with the senior captains. Our leaders are good
young men that people want to be around. They have done
this for four years. They’ve been strong character guys that live
our values, that’s why I was excited to coach this team, I knew
they’d lead very well. Adam is playing great and is considered
one of the most dangerous goal scorers in the state. Jacob has
been on fire, scoring huge goals for us. He is growing in confidence
this year and developing into the best player he can be
and the team is very excited for him. Sayvion has been playing
well, too, and I think he is one of the best center backs in the
state. Max Dalton has been contributing a lot, and Ian Johnson
and Jack Wildes have been playing fantastic defense, and have
been limiting opponents’ scoring opportunities.”
Quackenbush knows the Red will test his team’s fortitude.
“I love how hard they’re working, but we haven’t accomplished
anything yet. There are no trophies for mid-season
success. We still have to continue to work hard to accomplish
our goals and achieve success.”
Photo above: Adam Goushaw blocks out a Hudsonville player.
Photo below: Sayvion Young works the ball around his opponent.
Photo opposite page: Keeper Jack Hanssen kicks the ball down
the field. ~ Photos by Jeannie Gregory
28 ROAR MAGAZINE OCTOBER, 2019
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OCTOBER, 2019 ROCKFORDROAR.COM 29
Silver Lake Country Club was a popular gathering place for its membership. The men and women spent many-a-night socializing after
a round of golf. ~ Contributed Photo
END OF AN ERA
Silver Lake Country Club Closes Doors
The rumors flew around the community of Rockford for a
few months prior to the announcement, but plenty of hearts
grew heavy when a sign was placed on the door of Silver Lake
Country Club. The sign announced the closing of the golf
course after nearly 100 years of being part of the fabric of the
The course was founded in 1923 and is currently located at
7901 Greenbriar Dr. NE, just north of Belding Rd. Its last official
day of open golf was marked as Wednesday, Sept. 18. The club’s
Facebook page also noted the closure on September 5. It said
simply, “The course is in the process of being sold.”
Another announcement followed, there would be an online
auction for the course’s equipment. It said in part, “Silver
Lake Country Club has elected to close its doors and will be
liquidating all assets and equipment via online auction with
Orbitbid.com, a Miedema Asset Management Group Company.
This featured Online Auction will take place on Tuesday,
October 8, 2019 starting at 8:00 a.m. and will start closing at
6:00 p.m. the same day (Eastern Time). Onsite preview is available
the day before the auction from 10:00-4:00 p.m.
They are stark words announcing the closing of an era for
many Rockford residents who enjoyed the rolling hills and
many social events that mark the club’s existence. The course
had been private until 2013, when it changed to semi-private
so others outside of its membership could also enjoy golfing
Rockford residents Thom Sr. and Betty Rosely had owned
the course for close to 60 years, the memories are warm and
sweet from all who golfed there under their ownership. The
Rosely family had lost Betty July 7, 2019, her passing is still raw
to many in the community. The closing of the country club
stirs plenty of memories for all who attended Betty’s social
events throughout the years.
Thom himself was an outstanding pro golfer. His name is
nestled in history amongst those who claimed the Michigan
Open. His trophy was earned in August of 1964. The 26-year
old earned a check of $750 in the process of winning the prestigious
30 ROAR MAGAZINE OCTOBER, 2019
Another undated photo of the same scene of members gathering at Silver Lake Country Club. ~ Contributed Photo
Thom claimed the tourney with an 8-foot birdie putt on the
final hole, shooting a 282, just one stroke ahead of the runner
up. Thom Sr. passed on his golfing talent to their son, Thom Jr.,
who became a staple at the course, also.
Silver Lake Country Club was more than just a golf course,
though, it was a community gathering place for many years.
One of those with plenty of fond memories is Ellen Byram
VanderWerp. Ellen’s parents Robert and Nancy Byram both
played in leagues at the club and spent much of their social
lives there. “Doc” as Bob was known and Nancy were members
there for decades. Ellen remembers the many Christmas parties
and dances, but has a special memory with Nancy, who has
“One time I remember Betty organized a fashion show,” she
recalls. “Mom and I were both in it, I must have been in third
or fourth grade. We had matching dresses and I just thought
it was so special.”
She also has other special memories.
“I remember going swimming in Silver Lake because the
club had water access. People had picnics and there was a slide
and a swing set down there. I had a lot of fun. When I was older,
I was a waitress there for two summers. My dad didn’t like
me there when it was his poker night,” she said with a laugh.
“It was a community place, everybody knew everybody. They
also made the best hamburgers in the world. My dad and mom
had me take lessons to turn me into a golfer, well, that never
happened. There were so many fun times, including how when
the geese started coming on the greens Thom would do a wildlife
shooting with the State’s permission, and then they’d serve
goose to the members.”
VanderWerp isn’t the only one with fond memories.
Former Rockford resident Brian Bronk, who is now a chiropractor
in California, talks of his days as a member and
greenkeeper on the course. He listed his memories on the “You
Know You’re from Rockford, Mi if…” Facebook page. “The joy
on my father’s face when he won a few bucks on Men’s Day.
My record in a day - 54 walking. The stillness of early morning
hours, working around lush grass, trees and animals. Riding
the tractor and mowing the rough, the fairways. Cutting the
greens. Moving the holes. Racing around the course in carts
with young Thom. Cutting down large oak trees during the
winter for firewood. Good times.”
Plenty of Rockford residents listed their fond memories
along with Bronk. They talked of Pro-Am tournaments in the
‘60s and ‘70s, Father/Son tournaments, Twist dance contests,
junior golf tournaments, member barbecues, class reunions
and even wedding receptions.
The fondness for the club and the Rosely’s is apparent in all
the postings. Silver Lake Country Club’s closing may mark the
end of an era, but not the end of the wonderful memories of
days gone by that the Rosely’s gifted to the Rockford community.
Those will always stand the test of time.
OCTOBER, 2019 ROCKFORDROAR.COM 31
It’s always important to excel at school work before athletics
and a Rockford student showed she follows that rule. USA
Water Polo released its list of 2018-2019 Academic All-Americans.
Amongst the list was Rockford’s Rylee Davis. Rylee is a
junior Ram water polo player and not only earned the honor
of being named to the list, but also earned a 4.0 GPA which
earned her the status of “Outstanding Achiever.” Congratulations
goes to Rylee for excelling in the classroom.
Noah Stallworth, a 2019 RHS graduate, had an incredible
meet at the 2019 AAU National Junior Olympic Games. Noah
ran his best career times for the 200m, running 21.37 in the
prelims, and then smoking in the finals to a 21.26 to earn a second-place
finish in the nation in the 17-18-year-old division,
and earn All-American status. Noah’s time in the 200m is now
the 11th fastest time in history in the state of Michigan. Noah
also placed ninth in the 100m at the meet.
Friday, Sept. 20, was a huge night for the RHS varsity football
team. The Rams were facing off against the Mona Shores
Sailors. The Sailors came into the contest with a No. 1 ranking
in Division 2, while the Rams were ranked No. 3 in Division 1.
Ram Jaiden Friesen played a huge part in helping the team
earn the 34-21 victory. Jaiden led the Ram ground attack with a
sterling 208 yards on 31 carries, but even more impressive was
the five touchdowns he had to go along with the yardage.
32 ROAR MAGAZINE OCTOBER, 2019
Photo by Frank Renberg
Photo by Tracy Saur
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