Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath
Coloma names most outstanding Comet Athletes; AD and coaches make special delivery
In an effort to try and find a unique way to honor our Coloma Comet seniors, and safely hand them their awards, Coloma athletic director Wendy Goodline came up with a unique and yet still personal way to honor these seniors who were most deserving of their recognition.
The normal end of the school year awards is done in the auditorium, with plenty of folks involved. But because of the unique circumstances under which we are currently living, Wendy decided, once all coaches who were on board were also completely healthy, and with no signs of the virus, set out by vehicular caravan to honor these Comet seniors in person. It was a great idea under the circumstances, and we can only hope it will never have to be repeated.
This group of 2020 graduates will most likely have this memory to keep as their own forever. It seemed to be met with a great deal of appreciation from the honorees and their families.
Megan Neubecker named winner of the Neil Peters’ Outstanding Academic / Athlete Award
Coloma’s caravan of coaches stopped at the home of Megan Neubecker, to hand her the plaque honoring her for excelling, both as an outstanding student and athlete. Megan is a very deserving recipient of the Neil Peters Award, and said receiving this award was a big achievement for her, and was the culmination of all the hard work she’s put in since entering Coloma High School as a freshman.
In her words, Megan states, “I’ve pushed myself hard to play three sports and maintain a 4.0 GPA, all four years. There were times where it got hard, but I pushed myself through it. Winning this award means a lot to me because it recognizes me for my hard work and dedication to both my academics and athletics.” Megan goes on to say she’s very thankful for her coaches and teachers who helped to push and challenge her.
Megan was an outstanding 3-sport star for the Comets, and excelled in volleyball, basketball, and softball. She also played her sports in traveling teams in the summer. Megan was all conference in all three sports, and was also named to the all state honorable mention team, as a center fielder, for Coach Goodline’s softball squad. One of Megan’s top memories as a Comet would have to be getting a lead off hit which started the winning rally that propelled Coloma on to win the softball state championship game in her sophomore year.
Megan also was able to maintain a 4.0 GPA thru high school and will be continuing her academic and athletic career as she moves on to the LMC campus, where she will compete on their volleyball team. There is no doubt she will continue to have scouts while playing at LMC checking out her talents, and with her dedication and work ethic she will certainly get offers to finish her collegiate career at a 4-year university. Steve Neubecker and Shannon Neubecker are Megan’s proud parents, who have been fully engaged and supporting in helping to get Megan to this point in her life.
Cole Alsup named as the Coloma Comet Male Athlete of the Year
Cole Alsup is another outstanding athlete and as one of his coaches expressed, he’s simply just a really great young man. Cole, who also competed in three sports throughout his Comet career, has accomplished something very few, if any, athletes have ever accomplished at Coloma. That is achieving all-state recognition in three different sports.
Cole has been competing for the Comets since he was a freshman, in football, wrestling, and track. Cole was a 4-year starter for the Coloma football team, and achieved all conference recognition, as well as all-state, during his playing days.
The Coloma Press Box reporter, who had a front row seat to almost every football game Cole played in four years, certainly believed Cole has the size and ability to go with his strong work ethic to compete at the collegiate level, and possibly D-1. At the present time Cole has no such plans, but it would not be surprising to see him playing on Saturdays somewhere in the near future.
In addition, Cole has competed at the state championship in track, and was one of the top discus throwers in Coloma history. Cole also was an outstanding putter of the shot. He expressed his dismay at learning that the spring sports season was a victim of COVID-19. He said he was really looking forward to his senior year of track because he wanted another opportunity to compete for a state championship.
Cole will tell you however, that wrestling was his greatest love, and he was turned on to the sport in the eighth grade by Coloma assistant wrestling coach Todd Smith. Cole says that of all the awards he has won in his athletic career at Coloma, he’s most proud of the fact that he surpassed the 150 win mark, and 100 pin total during his wrestling career.
Cole was an outstanding student as well and carried about a 3.2 GPA through his four years. He says he is not certain of his immediate future after graduation, but is currently leaning toward starting in an apprenticeship in either welding or machine tool. Coloma Press Box congratulates Cole on this award and feels it was certainly the most logical choice.
Megan Koenigshof named Coloma Comet Female Athlete of the Year
Also receiving a visit from AD/Coach Goodline, and her traveling band of coaches, was Megan Koenigshof, who was presented with the plaque, recognizing her fantastic athletic efforts, as the 2020 Coloma Female Athlete of the Year.
The Coloma Class of 202, had an unusually good number of outstanding athletes, and none was more special than Megan. According to her coaches, Megan was a very hard working athlete and to the spectators there was never a time when she was seen as not giving 100% effort.
On the basketball court Megan had the speed and court awareness to handle the basketball effectively, and moved the ball around to her open team mates or got herself open to take the shots herself.
On the softball diamond, Megan would have been a four-year starter, except for the interruption of normal school activities due to COVID-19. Throughout her career she was a .600 hitter and improved her defensive game by moving from a right field starter as a freshman to the shortstop her sophomore year. The year the Comets won the D-3 State Championship.
Megan continued to work on her game. Moving to the mound, she became the Comet number one pitcher all the while continuing to always get on base from her leadoff spot in the lineup. Had the 2020 softball season been played, the Press Box believes Megan would have put up some offensive numbers that would be the best ever by a Coloma Comet player, including average, stolen bases and runs scored.
When contacted by the Press Box, Megan had this to say about winning the award, “I’m very grateful for being chosen for the Female Athlete of the Year. All of my hard work has paid off and was honored through this award. I would like to thank all my coaches and my parents for helping me, and pushing me to reach my full potential.”
Megan was also a hard worker in the classroom, and has chosen to continue her education and softball careers when she heads up to Grand Valley State University in the fall.
Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele
Honoring Hartford’s Seniors – A look back at varsity volleyball
With everything going on in the world today, this is a sad and upsetting time for everyone involved. As a sportswriter, it is just as difficult, as we are not able to see our student-athletes doing what they should be doing – participating in athletic events. For now, we are left with the memories, and we will be honoring all our seniors for their accomplishments in the coming weeks. We continue this week by recognizing our senior volleyball players.
Please note that the information in this article came from the official season ending program that was given out at awards night. The Hartford Press Box thanks Head Coach Patty Matheny for her help in acquiring this data.
Megan Nelson wore #7 on the court last fall and was the lone senior that was a three-year letter winner. Last season, she racked up 124 kills, 158 assists, 28 aces, 319 digs and 17 blocks on her own. Because of her strong performance, she was honored in the postseason by the Southwest 10 Conference, where she was awarded a spot on the honorable mention all-conference team.
For her career, Megan tallied a total of 371 kills, 455 assists, 91 aces and an astounding 1,452 digs.
Jessica Huaracha wore #5 on the court last fall and despite the fact her stats are not “out of this world”, she was an integral part of the team throughout the season. Her great attitude, along with her hustle and teamwork, will be dearly missed next year. For the season, she racked up two aces and 17 digs.
Destiny Chacon wore #11 on the court last fall and was a player in a plethora of roles, and she gave it her all each and every point. It is safe to say when Coach Matheny needed a role player off the bench, a lot of times she put Destiny in that key position. For the season, she racked up three kills, one assist, nine aces and 51 digs.
Jessica Cardoso wore #13 on the court last fall and was another role player that played a very vital part in the team reaching the district finals. When a steady hand was needed in critical moments, she was right there in the rotation giving it 100%. For the season, she racked up two kills, 10 aces and 65 digs.
More could always be written about these great Hartford student-athletes, but time a space for this column is limited. All this writer can do is join the rest of the Hartford community by saying thank you, seniors. You’ve created memories that you will remember the rest of your lives, and that fans will cherish for years to come.
As always, GO INDIANS!
Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant
A recent post on the Watervliet Facebook page noted that we have only three more weeks until school officially ends for the year. Given the measured relaxation of Michigan’s quarantine orders an actual graduation ceremony seems likely, perhaps in late July if the virus cooperates.
Serena Reyna is a senior athlete at Watervliet High School that is being recognized this week. She played basketball and softball all four years of high school. Serena earned two varsity letters in each sport, and along the way earned the Senior Athlete Award.
Her favorite memory is when she played the last game of each sport with the seniors. “Even though it was a sad moment it’s still a moment I won’t ever forget. The feeling of being able to be there and witness what it’s like to be with them, to hug them and tell them you’ll miss playing with them after being teammates since we were little kids.”
Her favorite coach was Scott Hobson, her freshman basketball coach. Serena said, “I’ll always remember all the joy and positivity he brought to our team.”
After graduation she plans to enter the workforce and figure out what she would like to do in her future.
Nick Polaskey is another Panther senior athlete being recognized. He played three years of football, a year of basketball, and four years of baseball. He earned six varsity letters while a Panther athlete, three each in football and baseball.
In his senior football season he was named the team’s defensive MVP with 71 tackles and one interception. Nick moved from safety in 2018 to a middle linebacker position this season, and was also a top receiver on the offense.
Nick was a key player on the baseball team since his sophomore season. He earned All-Conference Honorable Mention as a junior and was likely to earn more honors as a senior this season.
He said his favorite sports memory was sweeping Coloma for the SAC baseball championship in his sophomore season, and again when the Panthers “dominated them in districts last year”.
Nick is taking business classes at Lake Michigan College. He intends to study for another year at LMC after graduation then transfer to Western Michigan or Hope College to study business and elementary education. His long-range plans include owning a business, coaching youth sports, and teaching.
Press Box Player of the Week!
By John Oliphant
Tri-City Record Press Box Player of the Week for May 21, 2020 is Riley McKinney.
Riley recently shot a 38 during a nine-hole practice round at Paw Paw Lake Golf Club, her lowest score in her career so far. She would have been a junior on the Watervliet High School golf team this spring, just her third season since picking up a golf club for the first time.
Riley said she started playing “because I wanted to try something new and have a new challenge”. She picked a pretty good challenge; she plays with the boys from the men’s tees since the school doesn’t field a girl’s team. Last season she showed considerable skill by earning All-Division SAC Honors, awarded to the top ten golfers in the division.
Riley said her favorite part of the game is meeting golfers from other schools, and her favorite course is the HawksHead Links course in South Haven. During Panther football and basketball games you’ll find her on the sidelines as the three-time most spirited cheerleader.
Her future plans are to attend college somewhere and she hopes to earn a golf scholarship. Her favorite class in school is history. The best golf advice she’s gotten is from Coach Jeremy Andrews telling her “every hole is a new opportunity to succeed”.