By Kaye Bennett
On March 22, at 6:30 p.m., in the Angels Crossing Clubhouse, four Vicksburg High School alumni will be inducted into the VHS Athletic Hall of Fame. Since 1987, this honor has recognized VHS alumni for their outstanding athletic achievements and contributions to sports, both while they were in school and in their lives since.
Tom Willmeng, Jeff Zonyk, Ed Knapp, Jon Kachniewicz and Paul Schutter reviewed nominations to decide who will be joining the select group. This year’s honorees are Bob Devers, Ann Maltby, Megan Brink Danielson, and Dale Simonton.
Bob Devers, a 1966 graduate of VHS, earned five varsity letters at Vicksburg, playing football, basketball and baseball. He then attended Olivet College, where he was a four-year varsity starter in football. After college he joined the Battle Creek City Police Department, where he worked for 26 years, retiring as a decorated officer in 1996. Today Devers enjoys golfing, hunting and fishing, and he continues to work for an agency that chauffeurs members of Kellogg Company’s board of directors to board meetings.
Sports have always been a big part of Devers’s life. He played softball, including in the Senior Olympics, which allowed him to play all over the country, until just a few years ago, and he remains an avid fan of Detroit teams. Devers and his wife Linda live in Battle Creek and have five children, 10 grandchildren and four (soon to be six) great-grandchildren.
Devers lost his father when he was 11, and he says that, without high school sports and the scholarship he earned from them, he could not have afforded to attend college; his college degree, in turn, helped him get his job as a police officer. Lessons he learned on his high school teams taught him about winning and losing.
By the time Ann Maltby graduated from VHS in 1997, she had earned 12 varsity letters in cross country, volleyball and soccer. Her cross country and soccer teams won conference and regional titles. After graduating, Maltby attended Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, where she played soccer and majored in environmental studies. After spending three years in Bolivia with the Peace Corps, she returned to the US to attend nursing school at Johns Hopkins University. Maltby is now a nurse in the adult medical intensive care unit at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo and a reservist in the Navy Nurse Corps. She and her husband Wally live in Vicksburg.
Maltby continues to be involved with distance running and has run many marathons. In 2011, she and her family organized the Frostbite Run, a 5K race on the Vicksburg Trail, held each winter and benefitting the South County Community Services food bank.
Maltby says that her athletic experiences at VHS taught her how to be a good team player, how to be open-minded and how to work with different kinds of people. She appreciates the support she received from family (“My dad attended almost every single sporting event of my entire life,” she says), friends and coaches.
Megan Brink Danielson graduated from VHS in 2004, having earned eight varsity letters in softball, basketball and volleyball. She then attended Ferris State University, where she played softball for three years, before transferring to Grand Valley State University, where she earned her BA. Today she lives in Union City, with her husband Ben and their 10-month-old daughter. She is an ultrasound technologist at the Community Health Center of Branch County in Coldwater.
Danielson says that high school sports were fun for her, but that she always played to win. Athletics, she says, taught her how to work hard to reach a goal and the value of practicing. She credits sports with helping her develop her work ethic, and says that her father was a huge contributor to her athletic successes. “From T-ball to my last game at Ferris,” she recalls, “he was my coach all those years.”
Dale Simonton earned six varsity letters, in football and track and field, before graduating from VHS in 1960. He set track and field records in the school and in the conference. After graduation, Simonton worked at Richland Lanes Bowling Alley in Richland, which he owned with his brother, and he opened a fast food restaurant, the Dairy Barn, in Richland. He retired in 2001.
Since retiring, Simonton has enjoyed riding motorcycles with his wife Donna and volunteering in Vicksburg’s Historical Village. Simonton and his wife live in Vicksburg, in the house where he grew up; they have two children and three grandchildren.
Simonton says that his high school sports experiences gave him self-confidence and made high school a lot of fun. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he says.