Category Archives: Sports

The Vicksburg Athletic Boosters Honor Special Members

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Front row from left: Chris Gearig, Lorie Stock, Melissa Mullens, Ed Mullens, Susan Frisbee. Standing in back from left: Tim Gearig, Dave Smith, Troy Stock, Brian Deal, Rob Johnson, Jim Mallery, Jon Kachniewicz.

By Sue Moore

Vicksburg athletes are among the few in the state of Michigan who do not have to “pay to play” according to Athletic Director Mike Roy, now in his 16th year as the district’s AD.

“We have some of the best facilities in Southwest Michigan, in large part because we get such tremendous support from the Athletic Boosters, our staff and the school board,” Roy said.

Some of the long-time members of the Boosters were honored by the club at its Christmas party in December with a thank you from President Josh Baird. “You have made a difference in our ability to support Vicksburg athletics. We are recognizing you for your hard work over the years with your interest, enthusiasm, support and participation with our athletes and the sports they take part in.”

Since 1985 the Boosters have pumped approximately $877,000 into the school’s athletic programs. For example, a large donation of $14,290 was given for updating the high school gym in 2014/15. They even helped with the smallest donation volleyball practice balls and carts at $215 last year.

The Boosters biggest fundraiser is the weekly Bingo night in Kalamazoo. They also collect empty cans and bottles in a trailer drop off at the high school, sponsor a yearly golf outing, and conduct a Booster Bounce dance each year. A big revenue stream comes from the sports program book produced three times a year that features photos and lineups of all the high school teams and is sold at all the games.

There are 24 varsity sports for girls and boys with 622 roster spots combined for all three seasons, Roy said. With almost 800 students in the high school, 47.7 percent are playing a sport or in the band. All told, 90 percent of the kids are involved in some kind of outside activity, he said.

“We have a great relationship with the band which totals over 200 musicians in the fall,” Roy said. They too have a great Boosters club that supports the band’s many activities. The school district made a commitment long ago to not charge students to play sports in Vicksburg, allowing $500,000 from the general fund each year toward athletics. It’s the Boosters that add to the fund to insure that we have top notch facilities and the athletes will not have to pay to play.”

Rocket Football Donation to SCCS

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Drew Johnson, emergency assistance coordinator for South County Community Services accepts a check from Valerie Tassell. She is the secretary of the Vicksburg Rocket Football program along with Nick Sertic, the Flag Football head coach and vice president of the organization, at right.

By Sue Moore

What does South County Community Services (SCCS) do with 500 pounds of Hamburger Helper and specialty crackers? Well, it’s given to families who use the agency’s food pantry. That huge donation came from the families who took part in Vicksburg’s Rocket football program in the fall.

“We asked what the agency needed the most,” said Valerie Tassell, the program’s secretary. “Over 600 parents and grandparents donated. Each team had a big collection box with their name on it and they were just overflowing with donations. Plus, we were able to give SCCS a cash donation as well.”

“The money came from a registration reimbursement to those that worked a concession stand shift this season; they could take the cash for themselves or donate it to SCCS.  I have a check for $375 to give to the agency this week. Sixty-three volunteers donated their reimbursement rather than keeping it for themselves,” she said. Brian Johnson serves as president and Nicole Dalman is the treasurer.

The Vicksburg Rocket program had 325 kids enrolled with 212 playing flag football in 24 teams, said Nick Sertic, the vice president of the organization and lead coach for flag football. “We even had to close registration and turn kids away as some came from other locations. We gave Vicksburg kids a priority. We recruited coaches in June and did background checks on all of them. They were also certified in the Heads-up program, run by the national association for Rocket football. There were three or four girls in flag football for each team. They are actually better athletes at the ages of 9, 10 and 11 than the boys.”

“Our tackle program is much better if the participants have taken part in flag first. They learn speed and use of their hands in flag. The kids have to be Vicksburg-area residents to be on a tackle team. They compete against teams from Mattawan, Portage, and others in the Kalamazoo Valley area. Part of the joy of playing is being in the Vicksburg stadium on a Saturday morning in the fall as they are not just out playing in some farmer’s field,” Sertic said. “Even if kids don’t want to play tackle football, flag can be a stepping stone to other sports because of the conditioning they take part in. It’s all about the cameraderie.”

Olivia and Josh Holmes Sign to Play for Alma College

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Josh and Olivia Holmes will both be playing for Alma College in their respective sports.

By Sue Moore

Alma College sports program is getting a double barrel package with the signing of Vicksburg’s Josh and Olivia Holmes. Although two years apart at Vicksburg High School, they signed their letters of intent to play for Alma simultaneously. They are the offspring of Rick and Jennie Holmes, two very good athletes for Vicksburg when they played sports in the 1980s.

Olivia will play softball after graduating early from Kalamazoo Valley Community College this fall. She will begin classes this January and start practicing with the team right away, according to Alma’s softball coach, Denny Griffith. “This is the first time that I know of when we have signed two athletes from the same family at the same time to come to Alma to play two different sports.”

Josh on the other hand will play lacrosse for Vicksburg High School this spring and join the Alma Scots in the fall of 2018 as a freshman. He is on the wrestling squad for Vicksburg and played as a down lineman for the Bulldogs all four years of eligibility. He will have earned eight varsity letters upon his graduation in June, tied with his dad who also had eight in 1983. He plans to major in computer engineering or science at Alma.

“Big things come in little packages,” Coach Griffith said about Olivia’s softball play. “She is fast, has a great work ethic, highly competitive, great speed, good strong arm and she can cross home plate. I got to see her play before, knowing she was going to KVCC. Now she will be able to compete immediately for us.” Olivia has lettered in basketball and softball, earning six varsity letters. She plans to major in math, physical education and secondary education. Olivia carries a 4.0 GPA while helping to coach the Vicksburg girls basketball team in the 2016-17 season.

Josh’s high school lacrosse coach said that Holmes as a long stick mid-fielder, although small, was very strong, fast, and could stay with the big ones because of his speed and technique. “He is a fundamentally sound defenseman, hard to beat in a one-on-one situation. Our team was stacked with players who could go on to a higher level of play in college,” Coach Eric Frank said. “Holmes is a great student athlete and I’m happy to know he will be playing in Division III next year.”

Alma’s teams play in the MIAA. The lacrosse team went 12-6 last year and played in the tournament championship game for the second straight year, losing to Albion in 2017.

Josh and Olivia’s grandmother, Evelyn Brockway, has been a big fundraiser for the Vicksburg Boosters Club, having spearheaded the bingo program for over 44 years, raising over $1 million for the fund. She recruits all the members of her extended family to help out at the Kalamazoo Bank Street location.

“Our biggest adjustment of going to Alma will be changing from wearing red and white to the plaid of the Scots teams,” the Jennie joked as Josh and Olivia signed their letters of intent.

Vicksburg Volleyball Team Earns Honors

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Coach Katrina Miller, at left, handed out Wolverine Conference certificates of honor to Anna Schriemer, Kaytee Harvey, Rylie Richter and Morgan Preston. Photo by David Richter.

by Linda Lane

Katrina Miller, the Bulldog’s varsity volleyball coach, was voted the Wolverine Conference Coach of the 2017 Year by the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association.

“Vicksburg is blessed to have a coach with such a vast knowledge of volleyball,” said fellow coach Danielle Littel, who coaches the Otsego varsity team in the same Wolverine Conference.

“Katrina knows the game inside and out, and has a passion for sharing that. A defensive wizard, she isn’t afraid to move players around to give her team the best shot at winning no matter who is across the net. This year, she brought a team with many new faces together… through injuries and position changes, and they came out a force to be reckoned with,” Littel added.

The Vicksburg Bulldog’s volleyball team ended the season on high notes, moving up from third place to second place in the Conference ranking by beating the number one and two teams to win the Conference tournament. The team ended the season with an overall conference record of 10 wins and two losses.

Seniors Morgan Preston and Anna Schriemer received All State honors, with Preston winning a place on the Second All-State Class B Team and Schriemer on the Third All-State Class B Team. Both Preston and Schriemer also received All Region and All Conference designations. Kaytee Harvey received second team All Conference. Rylie Richter was named All Conference honorable mention.

The end-of-the-season volleyball statistics support these honors as being well earned. Schriemer, Preston, Harvey and Richter were four of the five top point earners, with Camille Wadley rounding out the group. Schriemer, Harvey and Richter dominated the court with offensive attacks, including the top number of kills. Schriemer clearly led the team in ball handling with an amazing 922 assists. On defense, Preston dominated in the number of receptions; Schriemer, Harvey and Richter muscled in four out of five of the highest number of blocks, with Chloe Hatridge also being in the top four block earners.

 

Lady Bulldogs Pick up First Win Against Portage Northern

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Hannah Vallier a freshman guard on the varsity moves the ball up the court against Portage Northern. Photo by Travis Smola.

By Travis Smola

The first month of the season has been a rough one for the Lady Bulldogs basketball team. Vicksburg was 0-5 going into a Dec. 19 matchup against the Portage Northern Huskies.

The result was a decisive 46-29 victory. “It feels good to get that monkey off our back,” head coach Jesse Vanabel said. “Now we know we can win.”

This year’s team is extremely young, fielding only two seniors in Hailey Burr and Lydia Dorscht. The team’s inexperience wasn’t so apparent against the Huskies. The Lady Bulldogs were able to take an early lead they never relinquished.

One of the big factors in the game was free throws. Portage Northern made a lot of mistakes in the game and the girls were able to connect on 14 free throws. Vanabel said it was a marked improvement over the previous five games.

The other big factor was the girls’ patience towards the end of the game. The Huskies defense became noticeably more aggressive in the third and fourth periods, but Vicksburg managed to burn the clock on the strength of their passing.

The Lady Bulldogs also managed to spread the ball around in the game. Leading scorer Kelsey Diekman put up 12 points. Dorscht had nine. Junior Madeleine Geiger and freshman Brady Brown each had seven.

Vicksburg’s losses this season came against Comstock, Three Rivers, Paw Paw, Otsego, Allegan and Sturgis. While the team is in a bit of a hole right now with a 1-6 record, there’s still a lot of season left and anything can happen.

Case in point was last year when the team was 3-8 at the end of January. The team then rattled off seven straight wins to get right back into the thick of things. Vanabel said the group has gotten better with every game.

Hockey Players from This Area Play for the SWMI Blades

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Standing, from left: Chris Bigelow and Brendan Flanagan both from Vicksburg and home schooled; Austin Ziegler, Vicksburg; Parker Lawrence, Schoolcraft; Chase Stenger, Vicksburg. In front is Jack Tomer from Vicksburg.

“Hockey families are close-knit,” said Tyler Eddy of the Southwest Michigan Blades. He coaches the high school-age team which includes several players from Vicksburg and Schoolcraft in a season from November through mid-February.

If players take up travel hockey, it adds another six months to their hockey lives, he said.

The Blades play in the southwest Michigan high school hockey league as a club team. They compete against teams like Mattawan, Portage Central and Northern. The league has served as a place for students from smaller schools such as Vicksburg, Schoolcraft and Three Rivers to play since 1989. The Blades currently include five players from Vicksburg and one from Schoolcraft.

Eddy has been coaching the Blades for five years, having played hockey while in high school at Portage Central. He is assisted by Brian Woodworth and Ben Blacker, the Western Michigan University goalie. “It’s an expensive sport as it is not a part of Vicksburg or Schoolcraft’s sanctioned teams. So the families have to pay the fees or help to raise funds for the teams to participate. Ice time at one of the area rinks can cost between $280 to $300 per hour and for games it adds up to over $900.”

The skill level is high and Eddy estimates that 95 percent of his players can go even further. Many of them have come up through the Kalamazoo Optimists Hockey Association, where they learn the fundamentals of the game.

Wrestling Program Still Growing in 2018

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Freshman Gunnar Niewiadomski looks for a way to pin his opponent.

By Travis Smola

Vicksburg’s wrestling program is in the midst of another rebuilding year, but the future has some bright spots. The team hasn’t won a conference match yet this season and is sitting at the .500 mark. But they are hoping the winter break will help with healing some injuries.

New head coach Jeff Mohney takes over after a year as Ed Knapp’s assistant during Knapp’s one-year return to the program last season. While the team still isn’t filling all the weight classes, it does have a lot of younger wrestlers competing.

At the White Pigeon Invitational, the Bulldogs enjoyed a strong showing against Parchment, Berrien Springs and Marcellus. Wrestlers like junior JT Dee and senior DJ Bullock each had some particularly exciting matchups.

The Bulldogs got down early to White Pigeon, but nearly made an exciting comeback on the strength of their heavier weight classes.

Mohney, who wrestled for Ed Knapp back in the 80s, said he has three goals he wants the wrestlers to focus on this season. First, he wants them to each work on getting better individually every day. Then he wants them to help their teammates get better. Third, he wants the wrestlers to have fun.

“I’m not just teaching wrestling,” Mohney said. “I’m trying to build leaders.”