05-14-2020 Tri-City Area sports

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath


Tidbits from the national sports news

As everyone continues to try and hang on to their sanity in these unprecedented times, sport fans jump a little in anticipation every time they hear just a flicker of a chance one of the major sports suggests that they may be putting together a plan to get back to business. There still is a great chance NASCAR will be back racing on TV, before any of the other spectator sports although nothing is certain at this point. May 17 is their target date, the first of four races they plan to run in 11 days. They have announced that they will be racing with no fans in the stands.

Major League Baseball also appears to be getting ready to release a season-shortened schedule soon. It has been widely speculated that MLB would reopen training camps in mid-June, and begin the shortened regular season around the 4th of July. Also the plans would call for an 82-game regular season, with games played in the home parks, and expanding the playoff teams to 14 from 10. Currently however, MLB executives are meeting with the player’s union to try and hammer out the financial details. MLB and the player’s union had made an agreement back in March, when they suspended the spring camps, but some of those terms now, according to top baseball brass, would not work. The possibility exists, that if they cannot come to an agreement financially, they could still cancel the 2020 baseball season.

The NFL which is still planning on opening the regular season as usual normally begins training camps in July, has pre-season games through August, and starts the regular season the beginning of September. The schedule released this week by the NFL moves the season back a couple of weeks more than usual. The season opener for our local teams, the Lions and Bears, has them facing each other on Sunday, September 13 at Ford Field in Detroit. The Lions next face Green Bay and Arizona on the road, before returning home to face New Orleans. It is a very tough looking 4-game start to the season for the Lions. The Bears have a slightly easier 4-game start, when looking at it based on last year’s results. Following the week one Lions encounter, the Bears will face the Giants at home, the Falcons on the road, and then the Colts at home.

Just seeing the schedule come out has football fans talking some again, and hoping more than anything that the proposed schedule will be played in full and on time.

In the golfing world the PGA has come to terms with the players and agreed to a revised schedule, with the first tournament back being the Colonial beginning on June 11 in Fort Worth, Texas. This event and the next three tournaments on the new PGA schedule will be played without fans on the course. The PGA brass and the players are still hammering out the specifics in keeping the players and course volunteers as safe as possible.

In the NBA there seems to be no rush back to the court. Thoughts around the NBA would be to have at least three more weeks of regular season, possibly all played in just two locations – Orlando and Las Vegas. The thought is there would be no sense moving players all over the country when there would be no fans in the stands for any of the remaining games. There is still much discussion taking place with the executives and players regarding finances and safety.

Kevin VanPeteghem Comet varsity head baseball coach

Several months ago, when the sports world suddenly came to a screeching halt, the Tri-City Record reached out to several of the Comet head coaches and asked their thoughts on their coaching careers. In response, here is a story given by Kevin VanPeteghem (Coach V), one of several he shared that he considers his top memories from his 18 years coaching baseball in Coloma – 10 years an assistant and the last eight years as head coach. Coach V has an impressive overall record since being named to the head coaching position at Coloma, standing at 149-126.

This is one of those memories Coach V tells that he will always keep as one of his favorites. In the words of the Coach, “In 2016, in our first year in the SAC Conference, we won Coloma’s first conference baseball crown since 2004. It was highlighted by Coloma hosting the defending conference champions, Saugatuck. Saugatuck was still a great team, and they were led by a pair of outstanding pitchers. We were 8-0, and they came in at 8-2 at the time, and looking to win two games, and grab a share of the conference title. We knew that we needed to win one of the two games in the doubleheader to claim sole possession of the crown. We won a hard fought game one, by a score of 4-1, to clinch the championship outright.”

But with Coach V’s “grinders” mentality, they weren’t finished, and a rivalry had been born between Coloma and Saugatuck.

Coach V continued, “We knew that Saugatuck was a very proud team and would give their all, and now we wanted to complete the season undefeated. In a typical Comet grinder game, we went into the bottom of the seventh trailing 2-1 and came back with two outs to score the winning run in walk off fashion to complete the sweep of the doubleheader. It was a very memorable day for the program, and we went on to win the final two games on the schedule to finish with an undefeated 12-0 conference record.”

On the local level, athletically speaking, there is nothing currently on the horizon as all baseball, softball, and soccer leagues have taken the safety first route and cancelled their seasons for the summer. High school football is still an uncertainty, and any season happening would require the students going back to the classroom in the fall.

The Coloma Comet Press Box wishes all its readers good health. We want everyone to still be around to cheer our Comets when we are able to reclaim our lives.

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele


Hartford Council for Recreation cancels 2020 Spring Sports Seasons

The coronavirus pandemic continues to wreck havoc on local sports, but has not just stopped with cancellations at the high school level. For nearly two months, the Hartford Council for Recreation has been working on an amicable solution to try to have baseball, softball, t-ball and its unique League of Miracles programs playing this spring or summer. Unfortunately, the window has officially closed, and the season has sadly been canceled.

The Hartford Council for Recreation’s Interlocal Board of Directors made the tough decision on Tuesday, May 5. The board cited the latest information that it has received on a state and federal basis, along with the continued uncertainty of how things will be opened locally, and whether large groups will be allowed before the summer ends, as just a couple of the main reasons behind the cancellation. Also, there would have been a lack of teams to play on a local basis, as many communities have already ended their seasons. However, the Hartford Council for Recreation is always looking first, and foremost, at the health, safety, and well-being of their staff, coaches, players, parents, families, fans and visitors. Anything that would affect this has to be seriously looked at, because without everyone, this organization does not exist.

Because the season ended before it even started, the Hartford Council for Recreation is doing the amicable thing to be fair and honest, and will be offering families options on how to disperse the payment they made for the season. Letters will be mailed out in the coming weeks to families declaring the season to be canceled, and explaining the process being done. These letters will need to be returned to the organization by email or by postal mail before it will be accepted, due to their accounting and auditing procedures.

In terms of parent or guardian options, two will be included in the mailing they receive. The two options will be for a “rollover” or a “refund”. A rollover would lock the participant(s) in for the 2021 season at this year’s price (exception may be T-Ball moving up to older age groups); all that would need to be done would be to fill out an updated registration form next winter. A refund would do just that – families would get a full refund in the form of a check from the organization. However, should the board decide to raise the prices for next spring, those who receive a full refund would have to pay at that going rate.

The Hartford Council for Recreation appreciates the patience and understanding of everyone while they made the best decision possible. It was the toughest decision they have ever had to make. More information on their recent decision may be found on the Hartford Council for Recreations’ official website (http://www.hartfordrecreation.org), and on their social media channels. Like the organization on Facebook (@HartfordRec) or follow them on Twitter (@IndianPridePark) for the latest, up-to-date news straight from the leadership.

Stay home, stay safe and stay healthy. Let’s make our communities healthier through our actions now, so some normalcy may return in the not-so-far future.

A Look Back: Hartford senior stories return next week

Returning to this column in the coming weeks will be our look back at the seniors of the Class of 2020. In next week’s edition of the Tri-City Record, we will take a look back at the volleyball team, whom made a run to the district finals last fall, and who also received team academic all-state honors from the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association (MIVCA). Get ready for some great stories in the coming weeks!

As always, GO INDIANS!

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant


Normally the high school baseball and softball seasons are in the home stretch about now, and Tuesday would have been the SAC division track meet at Coloma with the regional meet scheduled for Friday. The girls soccer team would be gearing up for districts with just a few regular season matches remaining, and the gold team has a couple matches left before the big tournaments. Alas, at this point we’re just hoping the football pre-season can get underway in August along with volleyball and boys soccer.

Fans can get a quick Panther sports fix by wandering over to the high school’s Facebook page and looking for a series of video called When You Were a Panther. Athletic Director Ken Dietz has put together several brief stories about top Panther athletes and teams from the last ten years. These are worth the time to view.

2020 Outstanding Senior Athletes

Meanwhile the Watervliet Athletic Department recently announced several year-end awards. Trever Pelton and Susanna VanLente were named 2020 Outstanding Senior Athletes. Trever and Susanna have been regularly featured on the pages of the Tri-City Record, and both have won the top award given to Panther Athletes.

Trever ran cross-country all four of his high school years. He wrestled for seven years as a Panther, beginning in 6th grade, and ran on the track team one year. His many honors include: SAC Honorable Mention cross country, 2018-19; SAC 1st Team cross-country, 2019-20; SAC 1st Team wrestling, 2018-19; SAC 1st Team Runner-up wrestling, 2019-20; Panther Wrestling 110% Award, 2018-19; Senior Panther Pride Awards in cross-country and wrestling; SAC Scholar-Athlete Award.

Susanna played volleyball for six years as a Panther beginning in the 7th grade. She played two years of middle school and one year of high school basketball, and played soccer all four years of H.S. Her athletic honors include: SAC All-Division 1st Team volleyball, 2019-20; SAC All-Division Honorable Mention soccer, 2018-19; All-District soccer, 2018-19; Panther soccer MVP, 2018-19; Panther volleyball MVP, 2019-20; Senior Panther Pride Awards in volleyball and soccer; MIAAA Academic Achievement Award; SAC Scholar-Athlete Award.

Both Trever and Susanna also earned numerous academic awards including finishing in the top ten of the 2020 graduating class.

Senior Athletic Awards

The Athletic Department also awarded Senior Athletic Awards. These are awarded to Panther athletes who have earned four or more varsity letters with at least two of those letters having been earned during the student’s senior year. The 2020 honorees are Collen Doneruse, Kody Edmonds, Logan Geisler, Gus Hinch, Alex Isbrecht, Trever Pelton, Cole Pline, Serena Reyna, Dylan Tucker, Isaac Wilmoth, Alexis Worley, and Susanna VanLente.

Press Box Player of the Week!

By Jerrod Birmele

Nick Pultz, a senior at Hartford High School, and a member of the Indian soccer, football and basketball teams this year, is this week’s Tri-City Record Press Box Player of the Week.

Nick has been dedicated to Indian Athletics throughout his high school career, but he is known most for being a standout on the soccer pitch. He may not get all the accolades that come with scoring goals or getting those key assists, but when the Indians needed his discipline and toughness on defense, he was there coming up big in key moments. With a large group of freshman joining the team last season, his leadership and presence was valuable day-in and day-out and he helped solidify a defense that allowed just 29 goals in 23 games.

Because of his individual performance, he received numerous postseason honors, including 1st Team All-Conference (where he was named the “team captain” of the league), was placed on the All-District and All-Regional teams, and captured 2nd Team All-State from the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association (MIHSSCA). For his academic prowess, he was bestowed Academic All-State honors from the MIHSSCA, as well.

In addition to soccer, he also was the kicking specialist for the football team last season, and this past winter, made his debut on the basketball team, appearing in most games and being an integral part of the rotation.

Over the course of Nick’s four years on the Indian soccer team, they went 69-17-3 overall, winning numerous conference and district championships. In 2016, he received honorable mention status at both the conference and all-state levels, and was voted Most Improved Player by his peers. He followed that up by receiving first team all-conference in 2017 and 2018, and earned second team all-state honors both seasons. Also, in 2018, he was voted by his team as the Most Valuable Player.

As a student in the classroom, Nick carries high standards, and has a grade point average at 3.5 or above. His name has been featured on the honor roll numerous occasions, including during the first semester of this school year when he received “high honors”. He is also a member of the National Honor Society. In February, he signed a letter of intent with Spring Arbor University to further his academic and athletic career, as he will be playing soccer for the Cougars next fall.

Congratulations on this great honor, Nick! Thank you for all the memories you have given Hartford fans over the last four years. We wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors!

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