Category Archives: Schoolcraft

Schoolcraft Athletic Boosters Give Back in Many Ways

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Gary Davis, Cari and Wade Rutkoskie and Josh Graber pose in front of the softball field scoreboard that the Boosters financed in Schoolcraft. They also purchased the wraps for the baseball and football field scoreboards.

By Sue Moore

“We feel we have made a difference in Schoolcraft’s sports programs,” said Wade Rutkoskie, president of the Schoolcraft Athletic Boosters.

The group raises nearly $26,000 a year through three fundraisers: the Firecracker 5-Miler and 5K Walk on the 4th of July, the Big Hole Golf Outing in the fall, and banners posted on sports fields and courts that advertise sponsors’ businesses. Families also can donate.

The coaches submit their requests to the athletic director throughout the school year for items other than capital needs projects. The job of the Boosters is to fill in the gaps that the school doesn’t have the money to spend on extra items for the athletes. “We believe the positive things that come from athletics are teamwork, setting goals and finding common ground. Athletics have tons of impact on kids,” said Josh Graber, the Boosters’ treasurer.

Rutkoskie and Graber should know – they came up through the Schoolcraft school system, riding the bus together as youngsters. They have coached Little League and Rocket Football teams together as adults, and both stayed in Schoolcraft to raise their families. Graber and his wife, Candi, have three sons, ages 16, 14 and 11. Rutkoskie and his wife, Cari, who serves as secretary of the Boosters, have one son, age 13. They are joined by Gary Davis, who serves as vice president of the organization and has two sons, ages 17 and 19. They are eager to recruit new members to the group to help share the load of fundraising.

A list of their accomplishments for the sports teams in Schoolcraft is a long one over the last five years these volunteers have been involved. They were recruited to the program by Doug Flynn when he was athletic director. Jeff Clark, going into his fifth year as athletic director, has elevated the sports visibility with his own contributions to the Boosters.

Business donors in the Gold Club include: Cole Krum Chevrolet, J&J Acres, Walther Farms, Infinity Mortgage, Dunshee, Premier Melon, DeVisser Landscape, Schoolcraft Veterinary Clinic and Centre Meadows.

Under Clark’s partnership with the Boosters, they have purchased both big and little items:

• The Hudl video analytics tool that costs $3,000 for all sports in the district and enables live play-by-play account of a game’s action. It can even be seen in Iraq if a soldier has access to a computer.

• A sports trailer was purchased two years ago for $3,000. It holds pole vault equipment on top with custom-made cabinets to accommodate sports equipment inside.

• The athletic trainer’s tables received new covers, and the Boosters also purchased a mobile table with donations from an anonymous donor.

• Batting cage improvements were made possible by donations from Don Hunt Concrete and The Dome.

• The most recent improvement, costing $3,000, was wrapping the football, softball and baseball scoreboards so they look much like new, helped by a donation from Kerwin Electric.

• The Boosters purchased ImPACT concussion protocol testing for the athletic trainer to use in making base evaluations of athletes.

• $3,000 a year goes to developmental youth camps for athletes.

• $7,000 bought a timing system for the track because there weren’t enough volunteers to hold a stopwatch at track meets. This purchase was made four years ago.

• They give two scholarships of $500 each to the male and female athlete of the year.

• The biggest purchase in 2019 and over the last few years is in the weight room. They partnered with the PTO and the school district, with each paying a third, to buy new equipment. Rutkoskie especially saw the need as the old equipment in use was there when he was in high school some 30 years ago.

Eagles Volleyball Perfect Early in the Season

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Members of the Schoolcraft volleyball team pose for a ‘selfie’ taken by Coach Erin Onken.

By Sue Moore

The Schoolcraft Varsity volleyball team started its 2019 season off strong with a 10-0 record, collecting two tournament championships toward the end of August.

At Gull Lake, the Eagles went 6-0 on the day, defeating Edwardsburg, Three Rivers, Battle Creek Lakeview and Niles. The following day, they headed to Western Michigan Christian where they finished 4-0, defeating Traverse City St. Francis, Covenant Christian, Western Michigan Christian and Kalamazoo Christian.

What’s even more exciting for Coach Erin Onken is the way her team is winning so early in the season. “Our defense is impressive right now. We’re playing balls that we didn’t make attempts for last year. The girls recognize the difference and that’s an exciting atmosphere to be part of. The vibe in the gym is great and everyone’s here for the same reason, to make this team better. It shows in the way we’re approaching practice.”

The Eagles, who won the SAC Valley division last year and a District Championship, return nine players from last year’s roster along with six starters. Seniors and captains Madi Ballett and Andelyn Simkins have been a huge part of the early success of this team.

Simkins led the way in August with 75 digs, 125 kills and 13 aces, while Ballett added 47 digs, 25 kills and 5 aces. “Stats are one way to measure players contribution to your team. What’s important to me is how Madi and Andelyn interact with their teammates. They’re constantly encouraging teammates, coaching each other and bringing enthusiasm to training. That positivity is contagious. And when you see your leaders acting that way, its powerful and you want to be part of that,” Coach Onken said.

A three-year starter, setter Kayla Onken shares the tri-captain position this season with Ballett and Simkins. Juniors Maggie Morris and Anna Schuppel return in the middle, libero Kelby Goldschmeding and right-side Allie Goldschmeding all return this year with significant playing experience for the Eagles.

Seniors Savannah McDonald and Dani Warnaar and three newcomers, junior Lilli Curtis, sophomore Sophie Ridge and freshman Abbi Curtis, fill the roster.

The Eagles play Thursday September 5 at home against Gobles at 6:30 p.m.

Eagles Roll Over Bucks, 54-27

By Mark Blentlinger

The Schoolcraft Eagle varsity football team opened the new season on the road against the Bucks of Buchanan. They took the field without second year head coach Nathan Ferency, out on a one-game suspension. The rest of the Eagle coaching staff stepped up and led the team to the first win of the 2019 season with a 54-27 victory.

The team lost a lot of experience and size in the trenches from last year but the skilled positions are filled with plenty of talent. Senior running back Kobe Clark is making defenders look silly this year with his moves and knowledge of his position on the field. Junior Alex Thole is taking the snaps again this season and has plenty of players to hand the ball off or pass to.

The first quarter didn’t start out as the team hoped it would. It needed to punt after the first three plays on offense with a 38-yard kick from Thole. After the Bucks were able to pull off a fake punt on 4th and 1, the Eagle defense tightened up on a 3rd and 19. Clark was able to break up a pass, forcing the Bucks to punt. The Eagles were able to put some nice plays together to march down the field, ending it on a 10-yard pass from Alex Thole. It found senior Parker Lawrence in the end zone for the Eagles’ first score.

With 30 seconds left in the first quarter, Clark hit paydirt on a 10-yard scramble. The Eagles ended the first quarter up 14-0. The Bucks didn’t let the scoreless trend continue in the 2nd quarter, scoring on a 56-yard pass. The Eagles answered rather quickly with a long 63-yard pass from Thole to Lawrence, having an offensive series that went 75 yards in 23 seconds with 3 plays. The rest of the half saw the teams exchanging scores. They went into half-time with the Eagles ahead, 33-14.

The offense of the Eagles seemed to be firing on all cylinders in the second half. Thole found an open receiver in 6-foot-6 Harmon Devries, 37 yards down the field. The quick series resulted in the Eagles going 40 yards in 2 plays in 38 seconds, leading 40-21.

The Eagles would rack up a total of 528 yards vs the Bucks’ 367. Thole completed 73 percent of his passes, 0 interceptions and 4 touchdowns. Clark had 12 carries for 172 yards and 4 TD’s. Jimmy Downs had 4 receptions for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns. On the defensive side, senior Dawson Shearer led the team with 8 tackles. Trevor DeGroote had 5 tackles and 1 sack. Finishing up on defense was another senior Aiden Hursey, with 3 1/2 tackles, with 2 for loss.

The Eagles’ next opponent will be the Parchment Panthers at Roy Davis Field at 7 p.m Sept. 6.

Schoolcraft Sports Teams

Here are the new fall team photos for all the Schoolcraft High School sports teams:

On the Corner

snow in julyBy Sue Moore

Hail Hits Vicksburg

On the exact time and day, August 14 when powerful hail hit the village, I was at the community pavilion. Our team was preparing to power wash the concrete in preparation for the Farm to Table dinner that took place the following Saturday. All of a sudden the sky shot out balls of hail that drove through the pavilion in a rage.

Apparently, it only hit the village area and nowhere else because the insurance companies report a large number of claims for damaged car tops, roofs and field crops in a very small area. As evidence, just drive up Portage Road from the intersection of V Avenue and look across the field to the west. You will see thousands of watermelons completely destroyed by the hail just as they were ready for market on Howard Bailey’s farm.

Kaye Bennett, whose home was directly in the path of the storm, lost all of her beautiful flowers that she lovingly cares for all summer long. The most striking photo of the cataclysmic downpour was taken in the yard of St. Martin’s Catholic Church east of Vicksburg by an unknown photographer.

Although my camera is almost always with me, I failed to rush to my car to snap a picture because cars driving along Sprinkle Road took cover in the pavilion. We were directing traffic there rather than power washing the concrete. I wasn’t smart enough to follow their lead and had to put in an insurance claim for hail damage to the hood of my new car.

Don Gilmer Served Community Well

Governor Whitmer ordered flags to be lowered to half mast on August 29 in honor of former state representative Don Gilmer. He served for 22 years as this area’s legislator. He often attended school board meetings and village council sessions of the communities in his district. He was an advocate for schools and community education in particular. He chaired the powerful appropriations committee with wit and wisdom. During the early 1980s when executive order spending cuts were mandated by Governor Milliken, he even came to contentious school board meetings chaired by Lloyd Appell to explain what was happening in Lansing which so affected our school district. He was only 73 when he passed away on August 12 after a long career in local government and in Lansing as the Lottery chief.

Prairie Ronde Artists in Residence

This program has brought lots of talented people to Vicksburg through the efforts of John Kern at The Mill. Three of the most current artists will be displaying their work September 14 from 6-10 p.m. at the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, 105 S. Main. The public is invited to the Block Party that includes four buildings at the intersection of Main and Prairie.

The talent sharing aspect of the Block Party is associated with Anna Roeder’s installation in the old Doris Lee store. There will be a small stage set up for several planned acts and an invitation will be extended to anyone who would like to share a song, story, poem, dance, or other form of performance.

Sam Margevicius’ photographic installation will consist of roughly 30 pictures installed on the wall in such a way as to create an abstracted narrative structure. The pictures describe the Vicksburg landscape through its various surfaces and visual patterns that have presented themselves to this artist who is from Brooklyn, New York. Paintings by Eric Vasilauskas from Kalamazoo will also be on display.

Event Calendar


9/5 – Thurs. Turning Leaf Open House at 13322 N. Boulevard, Vicksburg 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3-6 p.m..

9/10 – Tues. OLLI class at Vicksburg Historical Society, 300 N. Richardson, Vicksburg, 1 p.m.

9/12 – Thurs. Turning Leaf Open House at 13322 N. Boulevard, Vicksburg 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3-6 p.m.

9/18 – Wed. Vicksburg Library Party in the Park for pre-school children, 10-11 a.m. Vicksburg Historic Village.

9/14 – Sat. Prairie Ronde Artists Block Party and Musical Performance, 100, 105 & 107 S. Main St. 6-10 p.m.

9/14 — Sat. Big Red Machine Glow Run 5k on the Vicksburg Trail. All proceeds go to the Vicksburg Bands program. $25 registration fee, $30 the day of the race. Race starts at 7 p.m.

9/17 – Small Town Anthology V Book Signing and Launch, hosted by the Schoolcraft Library Tournament of Writers, R & R Event Center, 343 W. Prairie, 6-8 p.m.

9/20 – Fri. Fall Bike Celebration, Vicksburg Historic Village and Apple Knockers for registration, 6 p.m.

9/21 – Sat. Vicksburg Lions Club Golf Outing, 1:30 p.m. States Golf Course.

9/21 – Sat. Fall Bike Celebration, Vicksburg Middle School all day sponsored by Bike Friendly Kalamazoo.

9/25 & 9/26 – Wed. (9 a.m.-6 pm), Thurs. (9 a.m.-2 p.m.) Rummage Sale at Vicksburg United Methodist Church, 217 S. Main St.

9/26 – Thurs. The Art of Memoir, Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, 10:30 a.m.

9/28 – Vicksburg Oktoberfest 2019, Distant Whistle Brewhouse, 2 p.m.

9/29 — Sun. Vicksburg Harvest Festival at the Historic Village in Vicksburg. Includes many activities for the whole family. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

10/5 — Sat. Marching Band Invitational at Vicksburg High School. 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

10/6 – Sun. 1st Annual Beastro Open Golf at Angels Crossing Golf club, 10 a.m.


9/7 – Sat. Scotts United Methodist Church, Garage and Bake sale, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at 845 Walline St., Scotts. 269-649-0659.


9/6 – Fri. Harry’s Famous Meatloaf at Schoolcraft United Methodist Church, 5-7 p.m.

9/7 – Fri. Enjoy a great homemade meal before each Schoolcraft home football game. Chicken n’ biscuits at Schoolcraft United Methodist Church.

9/17 – Small Town Anthology V Book Signing and Launch, hosted by the Schoolcraft Library Tournament of Writers, R & R Event Center, 343 W. Prairie, 6-8 p.m.

9/21 – Sat. The Red Brick Tea Room at the Schoolcraft Ladies Library building will have two Cream Tea Party seatings at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets are $12.50.

9/27 – Fri. Chicken N’ Biscuits, Schoolcraft United Methodist Church, 5-7 p.m.

9/27 – Fri. Meet and Greet for Schoolcraft Alumni, after the Homecoming football game, Schoolcraft American Legion Post #475, lower level, socialize with alums, support Association to raise scholarship money.

2019 Schoolcraft Scholarship Recipients

Brice Walther, on the left, with his dad Jason, received one of the Schoolcraft Alumni Association scholarships.

At its 121st Annual Banquet on June 15, the Schoolcraft Alumni Association announced scholarship awards totaling $6,500 to six 2019 graduates. “Selecting scholarship recipients each year is a difficult task because applicants typically have a great GPA and are involved in service learning, athletics, and/or other extracurricular activities,” noted association secretary Sue Hendriksma. “Some even manage to work part-time. Additionally, applicants must provide a reference from someone who knows them well, generally a teacher or mentor.”

Alumni Association scholarships, supported by association members, were awarded to Olivia Ingles, Halle Phelps and Joshua Wujkowski.  Schoolcraft businesses Chem Link, Concept Molds, Kalamazoo County State Bank, Mullins Business Service and Schoolcraft Veterinary Clinic also provided donations to support 2019 graduates.  Three companies sponsored specialized scholarships, which require a higher level of support. The Chem Link scholarship was awarded to Brice Walther; the Concept Molds scholarship was awarded to Connor Nutt; the Schoolcraft Veterinary Clinic scholarship was awarded to Abigail Pincumbe.

Olivia Ingles plans to attend the University of Kentucky with a major in Human Resources. Halle Phelps plans to attend Olivet Nazarene to pursue an education degree. Joshua Wujkowski plans to attend Western Michigan University to major in business.

Brice Walther plans to attend Michigan State University to study crop and soil science and agribusiness.  Connor Nutt will study finance at WMU, where he has been accepted into the Lee Honors College.  Abigail Pincumbe will attend Grand Valley State University to major in respiratory therapy.

The first Schoolcraft Alumni Association scholarship was presented in 1988. In most years since, one or more scholarships have been awarded to selected graduating seniors.  Including the 2019 recipients, 94 Schoolcraft High School seniors have received scholarships from the Alumni Association in various amounts that total just over $44,500. Each year, a list of all scholarship recipients is displayed at the banquet and other events.

Seniors must apply through the school using the alumni application criteria, which take into consideration not only their GPA but extracurricular activities and service projects.  Students are required to provide a short essay in their application. The executive committee determines how much can be awarded in a given year based on donations received over the last year.  The scholarship committee screens all applicants and determines who receives the awards.

The Schoolcraft Alumni Association encourages its members to remember that the students of today will be the leaders of tomorrow. “Pay it forward!” Hendriksma exclaimed.