Category Archives: Sports

Lady Bulldogs Have an Even Record Early in the Season

GirlsBB20192By Travis Smola

The Vicksburg girls varsity basketball team has a 3-3 record and is trying to figure some things out in the early part of the season after wins against Comstock, Allegan and Paw Paw and losses to Three Rivers, Otsego and Wayland.

“We haven’t beat Comstock in five years, so it was good to get that first win under our belt,” Head Coach Tim Kirby said. “We didn’t really shoot well in that game either. We missed several layups and we shot 1 for 11 from the foul line, but Hannah (Vallier) came out hot at the beginning and scored the first nine points of the game. We never really looked back. It was one of those things where it was never really in doubt even though we didn’t shoot the ball well.”

The 37-28 win led into a home opener against Three Rivers that was a completely opposite type of game. The Lady Bulldogs struggled all night to contain the Wildcats’ Kali Heivilin. “If you can’t keep her (Heivilin) off the glass, she’s going to eat you alive and she did tonight. That was really the difference,” Kirby said.

Three Rivers got out to an early 10-0 lead and led 20-1 after the first period. The girls mounted a little bit of a run in the second. Sydney Finos was the leading scorer of the game with seven points. Kelsey Diekman had three, and Paige Yant, Vallier, Chloe Hatridge and Sophia Blankenship each had one. Allyson Naster had a free throw to round out the scoring.

Kirby believes Three Rivers may be one of the toughest matches they’ll have all year. “It’s really early and that’s a really good basketball team,” he said. “Honestly, I think they’re the favorite to win the conference this year with the depth and experience they’ve got coming back.”

He says the Bulldogs need to improve in shooting and a few other areas. The girls did improve their record to 2-2 after they beat rival Paw Paw 58-45 a week later and then went 3-3 with a 54-35 win over Allegan right before holiday break.

“I have a lot of girls returning but we are still just trying to figure some things out,” Kirby said. “We’ll keep working and hopefully we can get back on our winning track here.”

Kyle Rose to Play Football for the Air Force Academy

kyle rose 1By Sue Moore

“I hate to lose and try to win at everything I do, especially in the weight room,” said Vicksburg senior Kyle Rose. He has proven that by gaining between 20 and 30 pounds each year in high school. At 290 and 6 feet 3 inches, football scouts were interested, especially from the Mid-American Conference, Cincinnati and Navy. The one that mattered the most to Rose was when Air Force came knocking on his door.

“I’m humbled to represent our small town at such a prestigious place as the Air Force Academy. I want to serve my country and believe this is a great opportunity,” Rose said. “I’ll be fine with the highly regimented, disciplined structure of the Academy.

The Academy’s defensive line coach, Ron Vanderlinden, sat down in the Rose’s living room and outlined what would be expected and how the opportunity to be around other kids like him would be beneficial to his future.

Rose’s dad, Ken, looked back on his son’s freshman and sophomore years of football. “We didn’t really dream that big. Then he attended the IMG camp in Florida before his junior year, which was eye-opening.

“They wanted him to come to their school and play. That possibly added a little motivation, but Kyle didn’t want to play in hot weather and came back home to perfect his talents. He had started on defense and changed to offensive tackle. With his agility and quickness, he could pick up and block linebackers and defensive backs,” Ken explained.

Vicksburg’s football coach, Tom Marchese, extolled Rose’s ability to lead the blocking downfield and get to the second level so quickly. “I’ve never had a player like Kyle. He’s been a three-year varsity standout. He showed what hard work will accomplish while still being a quiet modest kid. He doesn’t like the spotlight even though he was a two-time team captain. When I asked him to speak up, he did, becoming a team leader. The Academy is a great fit for Kyle, football-wise and academically. He will not get outworked, I know that,” Marchese said.

Rose will dress for home games but won’t play his first year as there is so much to absorb, the recruiter told him. In high school he carries a 3.8 GPA and hopes to major in engineering or business. His mom, Trudy, remembers Kyle as always being bigger than the other kids, even in day care. “All the little kids would just be hanging on him. We have to feed him a lot, especially bread and sub sandwiches. We pack a lunch of these for school each day so he won’t get too hungry.

“He has always been calm with an easy-going demeanor. It takes a lot to get him riled up but he can focus on what is important to him,” Trudy said. His brother, Hunter, played baseball in college at Ave Maria University in Florida and now is in investment planning for State Farm. “But football is where Kyle can let it all hang out when he hits someone as hard as he can with contained energy,” his coach exclaimed.

He likes football as a team sport even though he played travel baseball and is on the Vicksburg basketball team.

KVCC Recruits Vicksburg’s Kari Key to Play Softball

kari key
Kari Key signs to play softball at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

By Sue Moore

Kari Key, the third base standout on Vicksburg’s softball team, has signed a letter of intent to play softball for Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC).

She has played softball since she was 10 years old and always loved it. Besides third base she can sub at second or anywhere in the outfield with her favorite being right field. “I like diving for the catches,” Key said. She has been in the Vicksburg school system since kindergarten but lives in Portage. She plays travel ball with Elite in Grand Rapids now but started with the Hurricanes, playing with them for 8 years. “I love my teammates and just playing the game,” Key said.

“Travel ball prepares a person for life, not just about the sport,” Key said. “It shapes who you are and helps overcome some obstacles in life. I chose Valley because I loved the coaching staff. It’s a good place to start and then go on to a four-year school, perhaps at Ferris State or Saginaw Valley. I’m considering elementary or special ed as I’ve always loved helping people.” Key participates in Peer to Peer at the high school where students are paired with kids with special needs. She has been doing this for the last two years while carrying a 3.0 GPA.

“My parents have been very supportive through the years, driving me to my practices. They have always been there for me and help me get where I am today,” Key said. “I’m an only child with two dogs who are like a brother and sister to me.

Her dad, Mark, manages the Eimo plants on Portage Road. Her mom, Marion, works at St. Joseph County community mental health as a counselor. They come to all of her games. She takes hitting lessons in the winter and works out almost every day of the week.

Camille Wadley to Play Two Sports at KVCC

camille wadley
Camille Wadley will be a two-sport contributor for Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

By Sue Moore

Camille Wadley has set big goals for herself by signing with Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC) to play two sports her freshman year. The coaches have encouraged her to play both softball and volleyball her first year out of Vicksburg High School. Valley’s volleyball coach Jennifer Buikema said, “We are excited to add Camille to our volleyball roster! She is an intense player with amazing leadership capabilities. Her setting skills alone make her a great player but add her intensity and leadership and you get the full package,”

Catching is her primary role on the Bulldog softball team. Or she could be a utility infielder. “I could play where ever they need me, even pitching,” Wadley said. “I love how I need to be thinking about the next play but still, I don’t want to overthink it. I’ve got to be aware of all the situations going on, have to know the game and everyone’s duty.”

She was recruited for catching but will have to work her way in to the lineup. She knows the current catcher at KVCC and is friends with her. “She is really good so I’ll have to go head to head with her.”

Wadley said she loves the pace in volleyball and how fast the game goes on. “Every point gets us there for each other while we can celebrate the good moments in life as teammates. I still go into the middle and try to say something encouraging, even if we have lost a point. I want to be a leader and assure my teammates it’s ok and try harder to get the next point and get the ball back.” She is a setter on Vicksburg’s District championship team. She started setting when she was 8, and likes being constantly in the play and involved. “I love having so much pressure on myself. There is adrenalin on every point.”

The coaches are happy for her to play two sports. By playing two sports she will get to meet many more people and expects it to be easier to make friends.

Wadley carries a 3.5 GPA and expects to major in kinesiology as she loved taking anatomy in high school. The major could lead a specialty in chiropractic, she mused. She is looking at going four years but doesn’t know which four-year school she will end up at. This year changed the sport of volleyball for her, so she couldn’t pass up participating in two sports while in college.

She has played softball for 10 years and is still playing travel ball for the Hurricanes. She has a job at Journey’s shoe store in the Crossroads Mall. Wadley said it’s hard to have a hobby when playing sports all the time. She enjoys working out while training at the high school.

Brandon and Tammy Wadley are her parents. She credits her dad with working with her to be the best she can possibly be. Her mom is her number one fan.

Vicksburg Spring Sports Teams

Spring sports team photos for Vicksburg High School:

Schoolcraft Spring Sports Teams

Spring sports team photos for Schoolcraft High School:

Schoolcraft Volleyball Loses in Tough State Championship

volleyball 3
While trying to hold back tears, the Schoolcraft volleyball team accepts its runner-up trophy in the state volleyball Division 4 championship contest. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

By Mark Blentlinger

Schoolcraft’s volleyball team ended a run to the Division 3 state championship with a Nov. 23 loss to Monroe St. Mary Catholic Center’s Kestrels at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.

The Eagles in the semifinal a day earlier had won the right to compete in the championship game by knocking out the Saginaw Valley Lutheran Chargers in a convincing win in three sets: 25-10, 25-11 and 25-12.

The Schoolcraft and Monroe teams met on the same court five years ago, also with the Kestrels on the winning end of the match. This Eagle squad hoped to avenge that loss, not only for themselves, but for the 2014 team. If successful, they would bring home the Eagles’ second state championship. The first was in 2008.

Instead, the Eagles lost in one of the most hotly contested contests in all four of the divisions competing in the state finals.

They came into the match with a record of 47-6-1 and were the SAC champion. The Kestrels came with a 48-2 record and were the champions of the Huron League. They had overcome the Beavers from Beaverton 3-0, with sets of 25-20, 25-17 and 25-7 to advance to the championship.

The Eagles jumped out to a big 10-4 lead before Kestrels Coach Karen O’Brien called a time out to give her athletes a small breather and to get calmed down. On the other side, Coach Erin Onken was telling her girls, “Keep up the pressure! Keep playing our game!” The Eagles seemed calm and collected, just taking it a point at a time. Monroe SMCC was able to come back in the set, tying the score at one point 16-16. The Eagles continued to stay the course. They were able to keep focused and continued to feed off the strong fan base that came to support them. Andelyn Simkins placed a soft shot that bounced off of three Kestrels to go out of bounds, giving the Eagles Set 1, 27-25.

In Set 2, the Kestrels were able to string together some points and jumped out to a quick lead 6-3. The score kept bouncing back and forth, but the Kestrels seemed to always find a way to stay one point ahead of the Eagles. Monroe was able to fight its way to the win in set 2, 25-21, knotting the total at 1-1.

Set 3 was again back-to-back points, with one team going up by a point, then back to a tie. Each team struggled to pull away. At this level, both teams were in the finals because of their excellent communication, great defense and ball placement. Andelyn Simkins showed why she was named runnerup in the Michigan Miss Volleyball nomination and a future WMU Bronco with some of her placement kills.

Schoolcraft gained some serious momentum and pulled away, stringing five solid points, making it 21-16, until SMCC called a timeout to gather themselves. Schoolcraft maintained the point distance. Andelyn Simkins again placed a soft kill right on the floor, leaving three Kestrels looking at each other. That point sealed the set for the Eagles, 25-19. The match was now 2-1, in favor of the Purple and Gold.

Set 4, SMCC struck hard and early, knowing it had to win the set in order to force a tiebreaker. If the Eagles were able to seal the win in set 4, then they would capture the Division 3 State Championship. The score was once again close, within a point back and forth. No one was able to pull away until the Kestrels opened it up, notching the score at 25-18 and forcing a tiebreaking 5th set.

Set 5 would decide the Division 3 Volleyball State Championship. Both fan bases screamed, waved pom poms and chanted fight songs to help their team get fired up.

The arena watched two very talented volleyball teams play their hearts out, spiking and diving for the ball. The Eagles at one point were down 3-6, but were able to come back and make it 7-6. The Kestrels forced some errors on the Eagles, bringing the score to 10-10 in the 15-point set. The Eagles went up 12-11, when SMCC called their final time out.

Both teams battled hard and by that point in the match, extremely tired. The Eagles fell hard in the tough tie-breaker set, 12-15 to take the Division 3 State runner-up title with a record of 48-7-1 for the season.

After the teams were awarded their medals and trophies, Eagles Coach Onken said, “We can tell they studied film on us knowing where the weak areas and strong areas were. The game came down to a serve-and-receive battle where both teams made their share of errors. If we were to play them again, maybe we beat them in five. These two schools would go more than three sets every time. We have a ton of respect for SMCC. I feel we came out ready to battle.

“I am very proud of this team and think of all of these girls as my family.”