October 2019 ROAR


ROAR Magazine features Rockford athletics.


Football Team

Rocks the Gridiron




















Varsity Football...........................2-5

JV Football.....................................6

Frosh Football................................7

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

Girls of the Gridiron.................10-12

Football Program....................13-15

Comeback Chronichles...........16-17

Judah Gustafson.....................18-19

Equestrian Team.....................20-21

Water Polo..............................22-23




Country Club Closing..............30=31

Extra Credit..................................32

* Cover Photo of the Rams Football

Team compliments of Connie Hill


Managing Editor

Jeannie Gregory


Director of Business Operations

Joel Koch







ROAR Editor

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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Bridge Street Burger Shack

Budget Blinds of Rockford

Cannonsburg Grist Mill

Cards of Wood

ChoiceOne Bank

Everyday Rockford

Farmers Insurance

Five Star Food Express Rockford

Flo’s Collection

Great Northern Trading Company

H&S Companies

High School Fan Stand

Innovative Builders & Remodelers

Kellermeier Plumbing

Lenderink Tree Farm

Lidral Orthodontics

Mercy Health

Metro Health - University of Mich.

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RE/MAX United

Robinet Physical Therapy

Rockford Chamber of Commerce

Rockford Realty

Scott Lowing - MWA Rep

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Sparta Chevrolet

Team Mortgage Company

The Edge Barber Shop

The Local Basket Case

The White Insurance Agency

Watson Rockford


Williams Orthodontics


The Rams varsity football team celebrates their 34-21 victory over the Mona Shores Sailors, Friday, Sept. 20. ~ Photo by Mary Moseley



ROAR Editor

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.”


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

as well.

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,

Sept. 20.

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.



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

resounding fashion.

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.


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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JV Football Team Undefeated


ROAR Editor

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.”


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


ROAR Editor

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 season.

“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

can do.”



Where Are They Now?

KC Zenner



ROAR Editor

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

those athletes.

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

State University.

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



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

a reality.



‘Braids Tight, Ready to Fight’


ROAR Editor

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

flag football!”

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

expected it.”

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.”


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

kick offs.

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

the field!”

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.”



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

mothers had.

“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

persuade her.

“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

shouldn’t be.


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


Rams Football Program Runs on all Cylinders


ROAR Editor

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.



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

to coach.

“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



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.”





Gamm Works His Way Back to Hardcourt


ROAR Editor

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.


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

the obstacles.

“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

(616) 647-4300


Gustafson Shines on Cycling Circuit


ROAR Editor

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

Road Nationals.

“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

friends now.”


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.”


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


ROAR Editor

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.”


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

mare’s stall.

“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

October 10.

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Ram Boede Mitchell works around opponents to shoot a goal in recent action. ~ Photo by Tracy Saur

Rams Water Polo Clicking in Pool


ROAR Editor

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

Arbor Pioneer.

“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

unexpected ways.

“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

each other.”

“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.”


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


Volleyball Team Netting Gains


ROAR Editor

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



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


ROAR Editor

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.


“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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Soccer Team Earning Wins


ROAR Editor

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


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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


Silver Lake Country Club Closes Doors


ROAR Editor

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



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

now passed.

“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.



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.



Photo by

Jeannie Gregory

Photo by Frank Renberg

Photo by

Connie Hill

Photo by Tracy Saur




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