By Sue Moore
Mike Cloney, a coach of middle school youngsters for 36 years received the ultimate honor of induction into the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame in September, 2013. He was a Vicksburg High School graduate in 1962 and while in school, had a part-time job at the Commercial-Express.
His coaching years were spent in Mattawan where he also taught world geography for 40 years after graduation from Western Michigan University. Cloney was honored as one of the first coaches in the state who spent his entire career with seventh and eighth grade kids, including a stint at St. Monica’s in Kalamazoo where he had the good fortune of coaching both of his children.
While in Mattawan, Cloney coached football for 35 years, basketball for 28 years and added baseball for five. This amounted to 68 seasons altogether, and over 700 games. He had previously earned varsity letters in Vicksburg in all three of these sports.
Along with the honor of being recognized by this prestigious fraternity of athletics, he and Ed Cloney, are among the very few father and son combinations to be selected. “It meant a lot to me, knowing that my dad was inducted back in 1970. I was proud to carry on the tradition. The elder Cloney spent his coaching years at Owasso and 14 years at Portage Central while the family resided in the Vicksburg school district.
“The joy of teaching is when students come back and want to look you up and share their life stories,” Cloney said. “I’m often told that they are grateful that I listened to them and took an interest while they were young teens. You have to love middle school kids or you shouldn’t be there teaching. We always had a lot of fun, but while still being fairly tough on them,” he concluded.