February 2020 ROAR

jeanniegregory

Coverage of Rockford athletics at all levels.

RISING TO GREATER HEIGHTS

Rams Varsity Team Grows with Season

JEANNIE GREGORY

ROAR Editor

Every Rockford coach knows how tough the OK Red is. In

fact, most coaches in the whole state of Michigan know. It’s the

conference plenty of people point to when discussing which

one is the toughest. Each coach plots out a strategy for how

they are going to attack and combat the stiffest competition.

Rams boys varsity basketball head coach Kyle Clough is assisted

by the talented duo of Joe Estrada and Joe Trolla. Neither

are strangers to basketball, bringing their experience with

them to help Clough solidify his vision. They talk constantly as

they tackle the season.

The team started the season by taking on the best of the

best in the area and started 1-6. He has his eye on playing at the

next level. Clough talks about his plan of attack for the 2019-20

season practically and honestly.

“I think most people probably think I am the dumbest

coach in America,” Clough shares. “Who the heck schedules

those first seven games? There were times where I asked myself

that, too. But at the end of the day, our goal here is to play on

the biggest stage, against the best competition we can. We are

not going to shy away from playing big time players or teams.

We want our program measured against the best, and we want

our players to have platforms to perform and earn recognition

if they have aspirations of playing at the next level.”

Clough knew heading in it would be a true test for his team.

He also knew his answers of how this team was going to do

moving forward, even if they did suffer losses, was going to be

provided by their play.

“I do think the early season schedule has benefited us some.

When you’ve played Muskegon, Union, Christian, Wyoming

and others, you really won’t see anything better. If you handle

those experiences the right way, they can really benefit you.

More importantly, I think we proved in that early season schedule

that we were close. If we had been completely outplayed or

beat up on by those teams it could have broken us, but that

wasn’t the case. We had a great chance to win each game in the

pre-season. So, I think our kids built on that, maintained an

unbreakable spirit, and now after a couple wins, are playing

with a confidence. Still a long way to go, and every game in

our division is a grind so we won’t probably know the overall

impact until the end of this thing.”

The Rams did compete well. They were close in a good

number of those games. They fell to a current 8-1 Grand Rapids

Union team by just one point and turned immediately around

to hold a high-scoring East Grand Rapids team who had been

scoring an average of 68 points to just 37, an amazing display

of defensive skill.

Gut-checks, to be sure. And, Clough knows it was hard for

his team to keep their heads up through it all.

“I’m very proud that we were able to keep our focus and

block the noise. These kids live in an environment that isn’t

very conducive to battling through adversity.”

Alex Varady connects for a basket in recent basketball action.. ~

Photo by “Papa” Razzi Sports Photography

12 ROAR MAGAZINE FEBRUARY, 2020

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