09-17-2020 Tri-City Area Sports

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath

Coloma head football coach Joe Stephens

Last week was the first of a two part column in taking a closer look at Coloma Comet head football coach Joe Stephens, and his thoughts on what the future of the 2020-21 football season might look like, what the effect might be if this season was moved to the spring, and who had the most impact on him in becoming a football coach. This week is the wrap up of the interview with Coach Stephens, finding out a little bit about his personal and professional life.

Tri-City Record asked Coach Stephens to talk a little about his personal, and family life, and how they have been getting through the COVID lockdown. The coach responded, “I am originally from Maple Rapids, Michigan, which is about 30 minutes north of Lansing. I graduated from Fulton High School, and grew up in a sports crazy family. My dad Jeff just retired from coaching high school basketball this past March. His coaching career spanned five decades, beginning back in the 80s. Although I’m not a basketball guy like him, I think a lot of my coaching style, and the way I treat our players, comes directly from watching him and being coached by him when I was growing up. My younger brothers, Jeremy and Matt, and I played sports and competed constantly as we grew up. We all played baseball, basketball, and football in high school, and we all went on to play baseball in college. My brothers also both played some college football, but they were 6’3”, and very athletic, and I was not. My mom Sarah was probably the toughest of us all, as she had to break up probably over 1,000 backyard fights over our games. My wife Stephanie and I have been married for 10 years this year. We met at Alma College where we were both in the education program, and she was also on the swim team. We are now beginning to see the same backyard competitions that I had growing up break out between our three kids, Brennan, Colton, and Adalyn. Most summers we are normally very active, but this summer we are getting a little stir crazy, as we hang out closer to home and have taken a break from that active lifestyle. Because of the COVID virus, we are sticking closer to our house in Coloma, to try and make sure we stay healthy and able to take care of the kids in our classrooms and their families this coming fall.”

TCR asked Coach Stephens about his coaching experience. The coach went on to tell, “The upcoming fall will be my 18th season coaching varsity football. I spent six years as assistant at Fulton, and this will be my 12th season at Coloma. I spent six years here in Coloma as an assistant under Coach Mark Eddy, and this will be my 6th year as the Comet head coach. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of playoff games, both at Fulton and Coloma. I have a lot of stories I could tell and memories that I have made, but the most rewarding part of coaching at both places is the way the players play for their schools. I am constantly hearing from the guys that come back to visit a practice, or shoot me a text. It reminds me every day that even though football is just a game and a small part of life it is still important and makes a huge impact on those who participate in it.”

Coach Stephens wraps up by saying, “I’m lucky to be a part of a game and profession that is a vehicle for making a difference in a wide range of people.”

Comets lose outstanding coaches, looking for replacements for girls basketball and girls bowling

Coloma girls head basketball coach Kim Swisher has decided that coaching two varsity sports, which pretty much keeps her busy year round, has become more of a burden than she cares to handle at this time and has decided to step down as the varsity basketball coach. Coach Swisher will continue to lead the Coloma varsity volleyball team, and that team is already preparing for the upcoming season.

Coach Swisher says that she is very grateful for the four years that Coloma allowed her to coach both teams. She felt that now is the right time to focus on one sport. She plans to spend more time with her family, and leaves the possibility open to someday return to coaching basketball in the future. She claims that she truly had an amazing four years working with the girls, and had a lot of great players. As of this date, Coloma was still searching for her replacement.

Carley Burrell has also decided that this is the right time for her to step away from coaching the Comet girls bowling team, and states that family is one of the primary reasons for her departure.

Carley has been Coloma’s coach for seven seasons, and has had a tremendous record with the lady Comet bowlers which include a division 3 state championship.  She has consistently led the Coloma keglers deep into the state tournament.

Coach Burrell says that having two young children at home, ages 6 and 2, and going back to school will require her to concentrate on those obligations, and would not leave her the time for coaching at the present time. Carley states, “Coaching has been an