Tri-City Area Sports

COLOMA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WIN AWARDS… Southwestern Athletic Conference awards were given to pictured (from the left): Senior Tristin Hicks, Senior Tristen Howard, Senior Paige Derrick, Junior Hannah Palmer and Junior Alyssa Bahr.

Mayer is the new sheriff at Hartford Speedway;  Nelson, Jenema, Spalding  & Krick pick up checkers

Hartford Speedway hosted three Federated Auto Parts Cyber Stock feature events over the course of this past Friday night yielding three different winners. Andrew Mayer picked up his second career win while Paul “Fireball” Nelson picked up his first ever victory and Nick Jenema nabbed his second checker flag of the year. Jack’s Excavating & Trucking LLC UMP Modifieds would only have a handful of cautions to slow the field over the course of the 20 lap event for stalled cars. Curt Spalding would land in victory lane over Bob Pohlman, Bob Baldwin, Dave Baker and Jared Guinn. Puhrman Hauling & Excavating UMP Stock Cars would represent 20 entries stron

HARTFORD SPEEDWAY… Federated Auto Parts Stock driver Andrew Mayer nabbed his second career win Friday night, June 24. (Photo by Tom Willavize)

g with Josh Frye in a borrowed machine after exploding his primary engine at Kokomo Speedway on Sunday night. Frye in an unfamiliar car would take the fight to Jerrad Krick’s green #99 for everything he could handle, but would fade late in the event yielding the win to Krick. Frye would come home second, Calvin Peek third, Andy Barr fourth and Jake Hoffman fifth. American Ethanol MWA Mini Wedges would run their second event of the year with Gavin Minton earning his first ever win after Breanna Fitzpatrick’s car was disqualified for an illegally modified governor. Hartford Speedway will be hosting a double header weekend for Independence Day weekend. Friday July 1st will be $30 carload night with FIREWORKS to light up the sky. Plus the Michigan Dirt Cup UMP Modifieds, Stock Cars, and Cyber Stocks will be in action. Then on Saturday July 2nd All Star Sprint Cars, GLSS Sprints, and MTS Non-Wing Sprint Cars in a three feature sprintacular event! General admission is $25 with kids 10 & under FREE with racing getting under way at 8 p.m. For details visit our website at or check out Hartford Speedway on Facebook.

John Jewell: A gem of a softball coach, mentor, and quiet leader

If you follow girls’ varsity softball then you know what a blow Grace Christian High School and its team suffered when longtime coach John Jewell announced he was hanging up his cleats and closing the team’s Facebook page. After 17 years at the helm of one of the best – and often underrated – softball teams in our area, Jewell won’t return as softball coach for the Lady Patriots. If you ask Jewell why he won’t return, his answer is a quick and concise one: “I’m tired.” Not of softball, never of softball. After all, the game on the diamond is one he loves, one he is passionate about, and one that will always have a place in his heart.

JEWELL RETIRES FROM GRACE CHRISTIAN SOFTBALL… Grace Christian head coach John Jewell an-nounced his retirement follow-ing the softball season this year. Jewell has headed the softball program at Grace for 17 years. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

“I Am Just a Common Man who is True to His Beliefs” That quote, spoken by basketball player and former UCLA basketball head coach John Wooden, can also be said about Jewell. He first held a baseball when he was eight years old and playing for the Benton Harbor Little League Sox. That first moment, that first team, that first loyalty explains why 53 years later, he still roots for the Chicago White Sox. Lou Harvey, longtime basketball coach at Benton Harbor High School, was Jewell’s first baseball coach – and also his neighbor. Jewell said, “He’d always talks about life, who you’re going to be.” So coaching wasn’t limited to how to run the bases or when to lay down a bunt. Coaching was about being patient, being kind, looking out for your players, and always, always about what type of person – not player – you wanted to be. Jewell played first base in Little League. “I loved first base,” he shared, “and I was good at it.” Baseball those early years whetted Jewell’s appetite and that carried him through his high school graduation in 1974 and a year at Liberty University. “The era I grew up in, every boy wanted to play baseball. Everybody played sand lot [ball]. But, it’s not the American pastime anymore.”  “Young People Need Models, not Critics”  This is another statement that resonates with Jewell, who considers Wooden the greatest coach ever.  “I never wanted to be a coach,” Jewell said with a shrug of his shoulders during our interview. “My daughter started playing [softball] at Coloma then moved to Lakeshore. The coach of her team was a great guy who worked at the bank and was never [at the games] because of his schedule.” In 1996, Jewell coached his first year of varsity softball at Lakeshore. “I was lucky,” he said. “I had a good team.” Jewell has learned through his relationship with those who coached him and the players he coached, that the game is bigger than the diamond. “It’s about wins and losses, but it’s not about wins and losses. It’s about those relationships that are formed. I teach family. Life lessons, that’s what I teach. “The best part of coaching is the kids. They are fun, and I hope that I’m having an impact on them. I’m 60 years old and all but eight years I’ve played or coached [softball]. I love the kids. I love this sport.” “If a Player’s Not Doing the Things He Should, Put Him on the Bench. He’ll Come Around.” Like Wooden on the court, Jewell is not a yeller on the field. He is quick to correct, he’s quick to encourage. He will right a wrong when it happens, but he is never critical.  Jewell relates a story about a  game in Decatur. One of his star players mouthed off to the officials and the coaches. “I sat her,” Jewell said, still shaking his head at the memory. “I put her sister in at second base. You don’t disrespect the umpires or the coaches. You don’t do that. I was worried about [her reaction].  “After the game, she gave me a hug and said, ‘You did the right thing.’ That’s telling me I made a difference.”  Jewell continues, “The qualities of a good coach? Someone who cares and respects the game and the girls. It’s constant teaching. Every day, every practice, every ball game, you’re coaching, you’re teaching.”  “To win once, you must have talent, but to win again you must have character.” Wooden spoke those words, too. And they apply to Jewell, too. In 2001, fifteen years ago, Jewell began building Grace Christian’s softball program. He took the reins as the varsity softball coach. But, ask him what it took to create the program and he says, succinctly, “Work.”  The team played to a 23-5 overall record and went 11-1 in the Cornerstone conference, taking first place. The following year, the team was undefeated with a 16-0 conference record and another first place finish. Conference championships were Grace’s for the taking. The team placed first in the Cornerstone from 2001 through 2012 and in 2014. The team was the Red Arrow champion in 2009, 2011, and 2015.  In 2016 the team topped the BCS White Division standings. Jewell and his Lady Patriots earned two district championships during his tenure. He recorded four undefeated seasons (2002, 2004, 2006, 2007). As a coach, Jewell posted a 323-145 overall record. He was named District Coach of the Year in 2004, 2014, and 2016. He earned the Cornerstone Coach of the Year title in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014. In 2009 and 2011, Jewell was named Red Arrow Coach of the Year. But, he insists, the accolades aren’t all his. He has surrounded himself with quality assistant coaches, including his wife of 31years, Laurie, who incidentally has helped Jewell at Grace Christian. “My wife,” he said, “has been the rock. Without her, there’s no way I could [coach].”  In his statement to the team Jewell wrote, “We have been blessed with great players and outstanding parents and grandparents! I have been very fortunate that God gave me the opportunity to coach here. I think we did some great things.”  It can also be said that Grace Christian was fortunate to find Jewell. “It’s the little details that are vital. The little things make big things happen.” With such a successful record, you may wonder why Jewell tendered his resignation. After all, the love of the game still resonates with him. “I don’t know what it would be like having a spring. I still have goose bumps and butterflies before every game,” Jewell shares with a laugh.  As he said, Jewell is tired. Not only does he coach every game and every practice, he works the field. He drags the dirt. He stripes the baselines. He spray paints the bases. He trims the fence line. He calls his competition to schedule games. He updates the players, the assistant coaches, the parents, and the fans. Jewell is always communicating. He is up before dawn, at the field he loves, checking it’s moisture level after a rain. Or rechalking the batter’s box if the game hasn’t been rescheduled. He is searching for another field on which the game can be played if the home field is too wet. He is providing stats to the newspapers. He searches for sponsors. He is the Grace Christian softball program. And he’s tired. Jewell often crafted a softball team out of some stars and some rookies. “Most years, we had maybe five actual softball players and seven athletes we turned into softball players.” Coaching coaching, coaching. Teaching players not only about base running or slap hitting or pitching but also about character and passion and drive. Every day of the week, softball encompassed Jewell. And right now, he’s tired.  “Earn the right to be proud and confident.” In this Jewell’s final year at Grace Christian, the team played into first round regional action. At host Decatur, Grace Christian ended their season with a 3-1 loss to the Raiders. That, according to Jewell, may have been the most difficult loss he’s ever faced. “Here we are, [almost three week’s] later and it still bothers me. I’m over at third base and I thought, ‘This is probably my last game.’” The loss counts as the game Jewell would like to have back. “That game. This team should have won that game. The losses always stick with you.” He continues, “For the most part we competed every year. That’s a testament to our girls willing to buy into what we were teaching. It’s never been about me, always about the girls.  “I think I did a pretty good job,” Jewell said. “I’m satisfied. I think we did the best we could with what we had.” For now, Jewell is processing the fact that his time at Grace has ended. Almost two decades of dedicated effort to a program that he started will herald a new coach later this year. It’s the beginning of letting go. But parents, players both current and former, and others will join Jewell for an open house on Sunday, July 24 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the school. There will be a special presentation at 3 p.m. Jewell, laughing, says, “I hope it’s a truck.”  For now, Jewell will keep busy spending time with his family, including 20-month old grandson Jackson. Jewell will spend time with Laurie. He will continue as a batting coach during camps at Notre Dame. He will learn about life after softball. Perhaps. Jewell pauses for a moment and collects his thoughts. “I’ve walked away from this chapter. That’s not to say this is the end.”

MHSAA releases championship stats from 2015-16 School Year

WAGNER WINS ALL STATE HONOR… Coloma catcher Morgan Wagner was named to the Division 3 First Team All State. Wagner was one of seven catchers to receive the honor. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

HUTSELL IS ALL STATE… Grace Christian’s Jaidyn Hutsell was named to the Division 4 First Team All State. As a pitcher for the Lady Patriots, Hutsell posted a 21-7 record this year. She pitched 178 in-nings, tossed seven shutouts, and had an ERA of 1.69. She recorded 303 strikeouts.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association culled the results from 130 finals championships awarded to varsity high schools in Michigan for the 2015-16 school year. Seven high schools won their first ever MHSAA championship in any sport. Sterling Heights Parkway Christian earned a championship in baseball, while Detroit Henry Ford took top honors in boys’ basketball. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep won their first ever championship in girls basketball. Tawas and Clarkston Everest Collegiate both reigned supreme in boys golf.  Burton Genesee Christian won a boys soccer championship, and Bloomfield Hills boys tennis team was crowned champions. Ninety-nine total Michigan high schools won one or more of the 130 championships offered in varsity sports. Currently the longest streak of championships won belongs to Birmingham Brother Rice’s boys lacrosse team. They have won the title 12 consecutive years.  The longest streak in girls sports is shared between Gibraltar Carlson (competitive cheer) and Marquette (girls track and field). Each squad has won their respective title six years in a row. Marquette High School won six MHSAA team titles in 2015-16.

Coloma All-Stars Tournament Champions announced

ALL STAR STEELY GAZE… Hartford All Star’s Raven Le-desma eyes third base after blis-tering a double during first in-ning action against Blooming-dale. After winning 15-0, Hart-ford faced Dowagiac. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

The Coloma Youth Baseball/Softball Association completed another stellar All-Star tournament this year for lady ballplayers. The tourney ran Thursday, June 16 through Father’s Day, June 19. Niles-Brandywine was crowned the champion in the 8U division, while Harris Heat took home runner-up honors. Host Coloma’s 10U team won their own division championship, with Harris Heat Sparks finishing in second place. The 12U division was also claimed by Coloma, with rival Watervliet taking second place.  Learn How to sail at PPLYC; Classes open for July Sessions Have you ever had a desire to man your own boat? Learn the rules of the waterway? Know the difference between starboard and port? If you want to learn some nautical know-how, Jeff Phillips of Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club would like to hear from you. PPLYC will hold two youth sailing classes in July. The first session will be held July 11-15 with the second session commencing July 18-22. The cost for the youth sailing classes is $130 each week.

FANTASIA FANS A HOME RUN… Hartford All Star’s Fantasia Eastman fanned an in the park homerun on Sunday as tournament play at Indian Pride Park continued. The 10U game between Hartford and Bloo-mingdale featured an eight-run inning by the Indians, who won the game 15-0. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

For those landlubbers older than 12 years old, an adult sailing class kicks off on July 11.

For more information or to get registered for either the youth or adult sessions, call Jeff Phillips now. He can be reached at (269) 506-0440 or email him at Ahoy, mates! Let the sailing begin!

Golf results for June 27

Ladies Monday Night Happy Hour Golf League June 27, 2016, weekly winner report: Event winner –Low Gross: Carol Klass with 55, Low Net: Carol Klass with 36, Low Putts: Anne Williams with 15, Pars: Katherine Rodriguez #15 and #18, Carol Klass#12, Kathy Osborne #13 and Cheryl Hutchins #17: Chip in:  Anne Pudell #10.

Stewart slams his way to sweet Sonoma victory

 It had been three years and 84 races since Tony Stewart last hoisted a trophy in Victory Lane. That changed on Sunday as he bumped Denny Hamlin out of the way on the second-to-last turn at Sonoma Raceway to snatch a win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Toyota-Save Mart 350.  The winding two-mile road course was the site of Stewart’s redemption. In his final year of driving full-time in the Sprint Cup series, Stewart spent the first eight races of the season at home; he was recuperating from a broken back. He has only been in the driver’s seat for half of the 2016 season.  Perhaps that made the victory that much sweeter. Stewart led the final lap until he was passed by Denny Hamlin. Hamlin tried to pull away from Stewart, but Stewart dropped into the second-to-last turn, got underneath Hamlin, and nudged him into the wall before snaking past and heading to the finish line.  The win gives Stewart his first of the 2016 season and 49th of his career. He led 22 of the race’s 110 laps.  Hamlin finished second; he led 33 laps. Joey Logano took third place, while pole sitter Carl Edwards held on for fourth place. Edwards led 24 laps during the event. Rounding out the top five was Martin Truex Jr.  Other drivers leading laps in the race were Kevin Harvick (3), Kyle Busch (2), AJ Allmendinger (20), Paul Menard (3), and Danica Patrick (3).  Competition was fierce on Sunday as 35 of the 40 drivers finished on the lead lap. There were 12 lead changes and only four caution periods.  With his victory, Stewart jumps up three places in the driver standings. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver lands in 32nd place and is 366 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.  Harvick holds onto first place overall with 562 points. He is 35 points ahead of Kurt Busch, also of Stewart-Haas Racing.   Third place in the standings belongs to Carl Edwards; he’s 52 points behind Harvick.  Brad Keselowski dropped one place and is now in the fourth spot. He trails Harvick by 56 points. Logano is 69 points back and in fifth place.  The teams head back to Daytona International Speedway for Saturday’s Coke Zero 400. The drivers will celebrate the 4th of July by running 160 laps, which is equal to 400 miles, around the superspeedway. Will it be Dale Earnhardt Junior’s chance to shine….and collect his first win of the 2016 season?


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