06-11-2020 Tri-city Area Sports

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant


Restarting Panther athletics after a three-month hiatus

The high school athletics shutdown lasted exactly one spring season, as the MHSAA has given schools the approval to start their summer conditioning and training programs. This approval comes with all sorts of new rules and limitations but nobody is complaining much at this point. There’s still no personal contact allowed, but at least they can play catch with footballs and multiple players can hit the same volleyball now. Important news for Panther athletes and parents The more important news is how the Watervliet athletic program plans to restart now that most of the restrictions have been removed. Athletic Director Ken Dietz along with 15 Watervliet coaches met Monday evening to discuss a plan to “restart, re-engage, and get things rolling again”. Their plan is designed to get the student-athletes moving again after a long layoff. The reality is that many of them probably haven’t been physically active at the levels they are accustomed to this time of year. That’s a reality for all of us though, isn’t it? Starting on Monday, June 15 the athletes and coaches will begin five days of conditioning and workouts to re-start athletic activities and re-start team activity and their off-season workouts. All high school athletes from all sports should be participating. Not only will this be a conditioning opportunity, it also gives the students a chance to see each other face-to-face and restore some of the camaraderie and team spirit they lost during the extended break. So Monday at 7:30 you’ll see a bunch of cars at the high school for the first time in many months, and lots of evening activity on the school grounds. The plan includes any and all high school athletes and many of the coaches working together in this first step program. Starting Monday and every night the rest of the week various coaches will be running the conditioning and workout drills. Each night a different coach will put together a workout suitable for all the Panther athletes. One of the remaining restrictions prevents any indoor activity so the workouts will be held on the grounds. In an email Monday night AD Dietz expressed that the safety and well-being of the athletes is at the top of his list. Each athlete will have to be signed into final forms, and this will help them register each student each night according to the NFHS and MHSAA COVID-19 guidelines. This includes temperature checks and questionnaires about their health and possible contact with the virus. Ken said, “Our athletic department and coaching staff are excited to re-engage with our athletes and re-start our athletic program. Our coaches have put together a great idea to make this happen. We look forward to seeing our kids back on campus doing what they love to do.” Parents should already have received information via email, Facebook, and the Panther athletic website. For questions and other assistance contact the WPS athletic office at 463-0758. Ladies Monday Night Happy Hour Golf League June 8 Golf Report from the Paw Paw Lake Golf Club: Weekly Event, Longest Drive on Hole 3 – Michelle Metz; Low Gross – Cheryl Hutchins with 49; Low Net – Cheryl Hutchins with 31; Low Putts – Maureen MacAskill Pavlitic with 12.

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele


Honoring Hartford’s seniors – A look back at boys varsity soccer 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 boys soccer players. Please note that the information in this article came from the official season ending statistics and awards night. The Hartford Press Box thanks Athletic Director and Head Coach Nick Blackmer for his help in acquiring this data. Miguel Cardoso wore #7 on the pitch last fall, and he had a season to remember to conclude his four-year Indian career. The forward scored 26 goals and made 10 assists, on his way to 3rd team all-state honors. He also received 1st team all-conference in the Southwest 10, and was placed on the all-district and all-regional teams in the postseason. Victor Hurtado wore #28 on the pitch last fall, and despite not being among the statistical leaders, had a solid season from his midfielder position. He finished his final season in an Indian uniform scoring one goal and dishing out two assists. Jerri Mendoza wore #26 on the pitch last fall, and while his name was not recognized much for goals and assists, he played a pivotal role in helping to shore up the back line on defense. The four-year letter winner finished his career by having a one goal, one assist season. Nick Pultz wore #27 on the pitch last fall, and over the course of his four-year career, became one of the most solid and steady defenders in southwest Michigan. He may have only had one goal and one assist last season, but the awards he received are numerous. In addition to being named 2nd team all-state, he also received 1st team all-conference in the Southwest 10 (which included “team captain” as the league’s best player), was placed on the all-district and all-regional teams in the postseason, and, because of his work in the classroom, was awarded academic all-state. He will continue his soccer career in the fall at Spring Arbor University. Joel Soto wore #11 on the pitch last fall, and was the attacking midfielder that could be counted on for a big play or two in one of those key situations. He finished his four-year career in the green and white by scoring 18 goals and tallying nine assists. In addition to receiving honorable mention all-state honors, he also was awarded 1st team all-conference in the Southwest 10, was a member of the all-district and all-regional teams in the postseason, and because of his commitment to academics, was awarded academic all-state. More could always be written about these great Hartford student-athletes, but time and 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!

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath


Thank you Coloma Class of 2020 for the many memories The 2020 class of Coloma Comet athletes helped provide many memorable moments for Coloma fans during their four years of high school competition. It was a class which had many outstanding athletes on both the male and female side. It was a privilege and a joy to be on the sidelines or behind the backstops, up in the stands, or especially up in the press box to be a witness to this class of Comet athletes who always played with passion and pride for their school. It will now be interesting to watch many of these athletes as they go on to bigger and better things, and find out how their skills stack up against a higher level of competition at the collegiate level. The members of this class helped Coloma earn two state championship titles during their four years, one in division 3 softball during their sophomore year, and one in the girls division 3 state bowling tournament during their junior year. This class has a male, 3-sport all state athlete to boast about, as well as many others who garnered all state status, along with all conference recognition, and a high number of championships, whether full season champions or weekend tournament champions. This group will long be remembered for their many athletic achievements, and Coloma families and fans can all be proud of the way they always represented Coloma with dignity, sportsmanship, and class.

2018 Division 3 State Championship Coloma Softball Team


It is very sad thinking back to early March when the world seemed to be going haywire and we all found out about something called the COVID-19 health crisis. At the time the Comet boys basketball team was preparing to face Benton Harbor in the state district basketball finals. And the spring sports teams were having tryouts and paring down their rosters to begin practicing indoors while they wait for the weather to break for the better and everyone could move outside. It would be several more weeks before we found out that the basketball tournament was canceled for good, and a few more before it was announced that the entire spring sports calendar was canceled. This is a very unique class, because of the circumstances that have forced them to finish their school work at home and not only miss out on spring sports but also never play alongside their childhood friends and team mates for the final time. While missing out on these activities was extremely disappointing, there is no doubt that there will be many leaders who emerge from this class and all will be much stronger because of the circumstances they have had to live through. The Coloma Press Box applauds the Coloma Comet class of 2020 athletes. You have done yourselves, your families, and your community proud. We wish you the best of luck in all of your new adventures. National sports scene As Michigan begins to emerge from this pandemic, and most businesses have been given the green light to reopen under some restrictions, many of the sports minded people are beginning to question when? When will we have baseball again or any of the major sports to enjoy either on TV or attending in person? Major league baseball is trying to figure a way to begin the season, most likely in July. They will still need some renewed spring training to prepare for the rigors of the season, which may be anywhere up to 82 games along with a beefed up playoffs. Currently however MLB is mired in a dispute between the owners and the players. But there is dialogue between the two and fans can only hope that they will be able to talk through the negotiations. As always it’s all about money, everyone on both sides will lose plenty of it this year, and each side is trying to minimize those losses as best as they can. Everyone should keep their fingers crossed here, and keep praying for a meeting of the minds very soon. There is some exciting news on the college football scene, especially here in Big Ten country where we are blessed to be surrounded by three major college programs – University of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Michigan State. It is being reported that several of the top brass from the BIG 10 universities stated this week that they fully expect to have a football season with all 14 members of the league participating. This is the kind of exciting and encouraging news the public has been waiting for, for several months. So unless a state’s policy prevents a campus from opening this fall, we should have football to look forward to.

2019 division 3 State Championship Coloma Girls Bowling Team


Racing’s Triple Crown which usually draws everyone’s attention beginning with the Kentucky Derby, normally run the first Saturday in May, is still scheduled to take place. The Belmont Stakes, which has always been the final leg, this year will be the first race to be decided. Saturday, June 20 is the date for the Belmont, which is run in the state of New York. The Kentucky Derby, normally the first leg, will be the next to take place. It is on the schedule for Saturday, September 5 at Churchill Downs. The final leg this year will be the Preakness, run at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The date is set for Saturday, October 3 for this final leg of the crown jewel of racing. Hang in there a little longer sports fans! We’re starting to see a little daylight in the swamp, a light at the end of the tunnel, some glimmer of hope coming through the morning mist. Our fingers are crossed!

Press Box Player of the Week!

By John Oliphant Tri-City Record Press Box Player of the Week for June 11, 2020 is Susanna Van Lente. Susanna completed her tenure at Watervliet Public Schools by being named the 2020 Outstanding Senior Girl Athlete by the entire Panther coaching staff.

She led the volleyball team this past season, being named the team’s MVP, made the First Team All-Division, and earned an academic all-state award. Susanna played several positions but excelled as an outside hitter and was always an aggressive server. She would have been a team captain on the soccer team this spring and likely would have earned additional post-season recognition in the district and conference. Volleyball coach Edie Daugherty says, “Susanna is the team spark who keeps battling and improving every single week. She brings a positive attitude every day and not only works hard on the court but also in the classroom.” Susanna will be attending Central Michigan University in the fall to major in child development, but she hasn’t decided on a future career quite yet. Congratulations Susanna!

Dr. Andy says… “What is good exercise? Exercising should be about movement for extended periods of time. Do not make it so strenuous or complicated that you are not consistent weekly. Move for extended periods of time for at least 3 times per week doing activities you enjoy.

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