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Youth football, cheerleading thrive Andy Schmitt smashes QB marks Michigan PGA, Hebert at home

Goal Driven Holt Soccer’s Josh Barens A Man On A Mission

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SPORT CONTENTS

12 YOUTH FOOTBALL SCORES AGAIN Success Begins Long Before Friday Night’s Lights BY Andy Flanagan COVER Photograph J. Robin Sumbler

15 ALL PART OF THE GAME

Youth Football Provides A Chance To Cheer BY ANDY FLANAGAN

16 STILL PULLING SURPRISES St. Johns’ Andy Schmitt Delivers For EMU BY JACK EBLING

24 Hebert makes history, area makes friends

Michigan PGA Championship, Four-Time Champ Love Eagle Eye/Hawk Hollow BY TOM LANG

26 PROS, FANS SHARE IN ASSIST The Goal? To Put Childhood Cancer On Thin Ice BY JAMIE WEIR

06

EB-SERVATION

08

FITNESS

Physiology, Psychology Mesh

Deb Feltz Shows What Quiet Confidence Can Do

20

Putting His Best Foot Forward Stats Don’t Tell The Story For Holt’s Josh Barens BY STEVE GRINCZEL

10

SPORTS AUTHORITY

A Swish For BCAM

Capital City Clearly Clicks For Annual Fall Coaching Clinic By BRENDAN DWYER

By rita wieber

32

FINISH LINE

SPORT COMMUNITY

State-ing The Obvious

Contribute To SPORT Magazine

By Lou Anna k. simon

www.SportLansing.com

Michigan Is Green & White (With Silver Lining)

Send us your News + Notes, story ideas and Last Shot photographs.

SEPTEMBER 2009 3


Assists

SPORT CONTRIBUTORS Terri Shaver The owner of Shaver Photography, Terri is a feature photographer for The Greater Lansing Business Monthly magazine and a free-lancer for Greater Lansing Woman and SPORT magazines. She is also the founder and executive director of The Oldham Project, a new non-profit organization that provides free portraits to those with life-threatening or terminal illnesses.

J. Robin Sumbler Growing up in East Lansing, three blocks from MSU, Rob had a camera in his hands since he was big enough to raise it to his eye. After graduating from East Lansing High, Rob started shooting TV news for WLNS. Thirteen years and several broadcasting awards later, Rob can still be found behind the camera, shooting for Detroit’s WDIV and SPORT magazine.

Andy Flanagan Andy has written about high school teams and athletes in MidMichigan for more than a quarter-century, starting with the Lansing State Journal in 1982. The Everett High and MSU grad helped cover Spartan football from 1987-89. An avid homebrewer, Andy works in corporate communications for Auto-Owners Insurance Company. He and his wife, Jamie, have two children.

Steve Grinczel Steve Grinczel is an award-winning sports reporter for Booth Newspapers of Michigan and mlive.com. He has covered Michigan State University football and basketball since 1986. Grinczel began his soccer officiating career in 1975 and has more than 1,300 NCAA, high school and USSF games under his belt.

The Greater Lansing Sports Magazine

Volume #2 • Issue #1 SEPTEMBER 2009

Publisher NBB Publishing Editor Jack Ebling Assistant EditorS Andy Flanagan Doug Warren ContributING WRITERS Brendan Dwyer Jack Ebling Andy Flanagan Steve Grinczel Paul Kofman Tom Lang Lou Anna K. Simon Jamie Weir Rita Wieber PhotographY Cheney Media Concepts Eastern Michigan University Deb Feltz Tim Hygh Michigan State University MSU Athletic Communications RedGroove Photography Patrick Schooley Terri Shaver J. Robin Sumbler John Young Rita Wieber MAGAZINE Design & LAYOUT Vision Creative Printing Millbrook Printing, Co. Mailer Aldinger’s, Inc.

SPORT, The Greater Lansing Sports Magazine is published monthly by NBB Publishing with offices at 1223 Turner St., Suite 300, Lansing, MI 48906. Postage is paid under USPS Permit #979. Subscriptions: One copy of SPORT, The Greater Lansing Sports Magazine, is mailed complimentary to qualified business addresses in the Greater Lansing metropolitan area. Residential, household, promotional, out-of-area and additional subscriptions are available for $18 per year, half of the shelf price of $3 per issue. Subscribe at: www.SportLansing.com Postmaster: Address changes should be sent to: SPORT Magazine, 1223 Turner St., Suite 300, Lansing, Michigan 48906. 4 SEPTEMBER 2009

Editorial Office 1223 Turner St., Suite 300 Lansing, Michigan 48906 (517) 455-7810 www.SportLansing.com Copyright © 2009 NBB Publishing. All rights reserved.


SEPTEMBER 2009 5


SPORT EB-SERVATION

One-And-Done? No Way! Back For Year 2, SPORT Looks To Grow In Every Way BY JACK EBLING

SPORT, The Greater Lansing Sports Magazine is now officially a 1-year-old. It has separated from the womb, though it will always be linked genetically to the Greater Lansing Business Monthly. And though it has taken some spills as a precocious toddler, it has learned a few invaluable lessons. Today, it’s

The range of reactions has gone from “Oh, look! How cute!” to “Wow! What a goodlooking kid!” The majority of that credit goes to three people at Vision Creative: Camron Gnass, Jon Eslinger and Brian Paulson. If you think in terms of a day-care center, Camron has been a protective parent, Jon has been the supervisor and Brian has taken over the day-to-day shaping. None of their efforts would’ve mattered

there’s more of their work on the way. Without the free-lance contributions of so many writers, including some at the last possible moment, SPORT wouldn’t be where it is in mid-September. It would be struggling to answer key questions about content instead of my favorite query, “When’s the next issue?” With so many people doing a host of other things and with plans changing on the fly, as we saw with the critically acclaimed Spartan basketball keepsake, we’ve had to

saying what most kids do, “Let me go over here!” then “Just hold me!” With 12 magazines off the presses, including a commemorative double issue on Michigan State’s NCAA runner-up basketball season, it’s time for a pediatric check-up. It’s a chance to see where we are with SPORT, what we want to be and how we need to get there. According to most magazine growth charts, we’re ahead of schedule in so many ways. Yet, we keep bumping into sharp corners of tables with Michigan’s tough economy. In terms of looks, nearly everyone who has seen us has been dazzled at some point.

if SPORT hadn’t been blessed with great photography and illustration. A special shout-out there to the eye and extra effort of J. Robin Sumbler and the artistic flair of Dennis Preston. I still get questions about Sumbler’s golf-ball-in-ice-on-a-tee picture. And after some terrific cover portraits, no issue has had more immediate “Wow!” than Preston’s drawing of a DeWitt Panther-Haslett Viking clash. In terms of the words, we’re lucky to have had just as much help with the writing as with the photos. Ted Kluck and Andy Flanagan have been particularly strong with stories I wouldn’t have wanted to tackle. And

scramble much more than we’d like. We hope to be more structured and consistent that way in Year 2. Yet, we never want to lose the spontaneity and sense of adventure that have made people say, “Look at this!” And we definitely want to embrace the outreach for feedback and story suggestions. Many of those e-mails have led to some of our most memorable pieces. And many more of those ideas - your ideas - will be developed over the next 12 months. So whatever you do, don’t stop going to the website or picking up the phone and letting us know what you think, good or bad.

It was all so exciting just one year ago. Guess what? It still is.

Jack Ebling SPORT EDITOR

Jack has covered sports and much more as a writer and broadcaster in Mid-Michigan since 1978. A three-time Michigan Sportswriter of the Year, he was a 2006 inductee into the Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame. He has written five books–four on Michigan State and one on the Detroit Tigers– and has contributed more than 125 pieces for national publications. The former English teacher and coach spent nearly a quarter-century as a beat writer and columnist for the Lansing State Journal and won 21 major writing awards. He became a sports radio host in 2002 and branched into news talk in 2006. Currently, he hosts “Ebling and You” weekday afternoons and co-hosts “The Jack and Tom Show” Saturdays on 1320 WILS in Lansing. A two-time graduate of MSU, he has lived in the area for 36 years and has helped to raise two remarkable young adults. 6 SEPTEMBER 2009


for $18, barely enough to pay the postage. And the No. 1 question I get, “Where can I get this issue?” is easy to answer. You can try most area book stores and pay $3 a copy or subscribe at half-price by going to sportlansing.com or calling 455-7810. Diane isn’t there to pick up the phone in Old Town, leave a message. Someone will get back to you. Getting back to Year 2, it shouldn’t be terrible. In fact, it should show noticeable growth. With Sharon Osborn coming on board to coordinate sales, the future is as bright as the economy allows. And despite my radio work with 1320 WILS six days a week and a new role as columnist for spartantailgate.com, I should be able to get more help - and more sleep - in the coming school year. That doesn’t mean we’ll be asleep at the switch. If we do doze off and miss something, please let us know. Better yet, let us know what you think long before that. We want to make our holiday issue the best it can be. We want Delivery Day to feel like a holiday each month. And we want you to know you’re a part of that process. Newborns can get away with almost anything. As we begin to grow up, we have to do things right. That’s where you come in. After all, it takes a community to raise a community magazine.

©2007 A l zhei mer’ s A s s oc i at i on. A ll ri g ht s res er ved.

If anything has been a major shock, it has been the overwhelming feedback from those who’ve seen us each month. In nearly a quarter-century of newspaper work and more than seven years with two radio stations, I never got that kind of reaction. There was always someone who’d say, “Why don’t you go write in Arizona?” or “Whose idea was it to put you on the air?” Here, I almost wish we’d get more complaints. Luckily, we know what needs to be fixed. And we think we know how to fix it. In terms of distribution, the latest estimate indicates each issue is being seen by roughly 95,000 sets of eyeballs. Obviously, we’re not printing that many copies. But by being in doctors’, dentists’ and lawyers’ offices and in barber, beauty and body shops all over the area, we’re reaching a lot of you from time to time. More impressive has been the response from those who’ve taken advantage of the best deal going, 12 issues home-delivered

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SEPTEMBER 2009 7


SPORT FITNESS

Physiology, Psychology Mesh Deb Feltz Shows What Quiet Confidence Can Do By rita wieber

It was 1963 when 10-year old Deb Feltz first experienced the thrill of running fast. She could beat all the girls and boys in physical education testing. She knew she was fast. And she liked it. Growing up in the pre-Title IX era, she was prevented from participating in school sports until 1972. Feltz had to wait 40 years before she could realize the exhilaration of competing on the track. “I’ve always had that competitive spirit,” said Feltz of Williamston. “In high school there was no outlet for girls in track and field. In college there were only interest groups.” By no means did Feltz sit dormant during the interim between elementary school and the master’s track and field scene. In high school and college she was a top competitive downhill skier. And her love for sports led her to a career in sports psychology and kinesiology.

8 SEPTEMBER 2009

In the soon-to-be published paper, Quiet Competence by Vikki Krane and Diane E. Whaley, Feltz noted, “I had an interest in sport psychology that really went back to my freshman year at Colorado State University, when the ski team I was on worked with this psychologist who called himself a sport psychologist…I had that kind of in the back of my mind, really wanting to pursue that at some point.” Feltz came to Michigan State University after obtaining her Ph.D. in sports psychology at Penn State in 1980. She now functions as the department chair and a professor of kinesiology at MSU. When Feltz turned 50, one of her doctoral

students encouraged her to experience senior track and field. “I thought of myself more as a sprinter,” said Feltz, who began training for the 100 and 200 meters. “But I quickly found that there were much faster women than me.” In her second year of senior competition, Feltz contacted friend and MSU Assistant Director of Intramural Sports, Johnny Allen, for pointers. He has served as her coach ever since. “I knew right after I saw her train that she needed to increase her distance to at least 400 meters,” Allen said. “But she did have a good showing in the 100, 200 and 400 meters at the National Senior Games in Pittsburgh in 2005.” Feltz placed fifth in the 200 (33.97) and fourth in the 400 (1:16.04) at her first National Senior Games in the 50-54 age group. Soon after, Feltz began training with


Photography deb feltz

Fowler’s Ruth Thelen, a seasoned senior runner with success at every distance from 100 meters to the marathon. “Ruth has been the glue,” Allen said. “I knew that training with Ruth would help convince Deb to go longer and begin racing the 800 meters.” The 2007 National Senior Games in Louisville proved to be somewhat bittersweet. Feltz injured her hamstring six weeks before the meet after recovering from ACL surgery. Despite the setback, she still placed third in her age group in the 800 (3:05.92) and earned a bronze medal. In the past few years training has included workouts with the Mid-Michigan Track Club, weekly Grand Ledge summer meets and track workouts with a group of athletes, including Thelen and Sharron Becker of Fowler. “It’s the camaraderie that keeps me going,” Feltz said. “Training with Ruth Thelen is motivating. We are both dedicated and push each other. I wouldn’t do that on my own.” Running no more than three days per week and adding cross-training workouts has kept Feltz healthy for the past couple of years. “It’s more important for me to keep

Hard Work Pays Off Deb Feltz and friends share a moment of triumph on the winners stand. quality and intensity in the workout rather than quantity,” she said. Feltz’s professional research in self-efficacy, the degree of self-confidence in being able to accomplish a goal or task, has lent itself to her personal success on the track. “Being able to reflect on can-do beliefs is important,” said Feltz, the author of SelfEfficacy in Sport (2008, Human Kinetics Publishers). “Imagery is another mental skill I use, along with anxiety control.” No doubt it’s the combination of hard work,

athleticism and knowledge of sport psychology and kinesiology that helped Feltz become the National Senior Olympics 800 champ in the 55-59 age group in Palo Alto, Calif., this summer. Her 2:52.82 was more than 13 minutes faster than her time in 2007. “She is a great person to coach,” Allen said. “We have a fantastic rapport.” Goal-setting continues to drive Feltz. She aims to drop her 800 time to 2:50 and compete in the National Senior Games in Houston in 2011.


GREATER LANSING SPORTS AUTHORITY

A Swish For BCAM

Capital City Clearly Clicks For Annual Fall Coaching Clinic

A lot of sports analogies are built on the notion that there is strength in the middle of things. It’s the sweet spot of a baseball bat. A perfect drive lands in the center of the fairway. And the heart of a defense is usually right up the middle.

“Being in the center is key,” Dutcher said. “Greater Lansing’s central position in the state is a huge reason we come back year after year. No matter where you are in the State of Michigan, it’s always easy to get to Lansing.” So there is strength in the center. That’s good. But there has to be more. What do the other players for Team Lansing do to make this region the long-standing home

Four On The Floor (From left) Organizer Ed Dutcher, coaches Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh and John Beilein of Michigan and Executive Director Tom Hursey share stories at the 2008 BCAM Coaches Clinic.. As it turns out, a strong center position works for hosting sporting events as well. From Oct. 2-4 the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan will hold its annual Coaches Clinic at the Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center in South Lansing. And it’s particularly notable that the BCAM event has chosen to meet in Greater Lansing 26 years in a row. How’s that for a dynasty? If you ask Ed Dutcher, the event organizer and a longtime area basketball coach, why they have decided to meet in Lansing each year, his answer sounds like a coach’s game plan for attacking a zone defense. 10 SEPTEMBER 2009

for a great event? According to Dutcher, quite a bit. “Greater Lansing is a smart host city for our clinic for many reasons,” Dutcher said. “From direct access to the folks at the Michigan High School Athletic Association to the wellrespected basketball culture at Michigan State University to the abundant options for dining and nightlife, we really feel that the community offers everything we could possibly need.” Dutcher was also quick to point out the benefits that the Greater Lansing Sports Authority brings to Michigan’s Capital City as a sports event destination.

“Working with the GLSA has made the sports event experience in this community simply wonderful,” Dutcher said. “They go above and beyond to help plan, clear any red tape and just make things smooth with everything from lodging to the meeting and sports facilities we need. Greater Lansing makes a lot of sense for BCAM - the GLSA is icing on the cake.” So while a great host community and a dedicated partner in the GLSA will help make a great event for BCAM, attendance depends on intriguing topics and notable speakers. It just so happens that this year’s lineup of speakers is absolutely loaded. And that is a huge plus for the anticipated 800-1,000 hoop-crazed attendees for three solid days of all things basketball, from the instructional to the inspirational. “We have both a theater-style speaker experience at the hotel and on-court instruction sessions at Holt High School, led by some of the top names in coaching from across the country,” Dutcher said. Attendees will enjoy entertaining, enlightening presentations from such well-known coaches as Michigan’s John Beilein, Utah leader and former MSU assistant Jim Boylen, Purdue’s Matt Painter and West Virginia’s Bob Huggins, just to name a few. With the star power of this year’s lineup, Dutcher was quick to state that this is not a fan experience per se. It’s professional development with coaches teaching coaches. But that doesn’t mean it will be all business. We are talking about nearly a thousand basketball coaches from nearly every level on the loose in Michigan’s Capital City. Something suggests that they just might squeak in some fun. And Dutcher agrees wholeheartedly. “Our attendees have always had great things to say about this community,” he said. “Though I’ve been approached many times about moving this event to a different city, I simply couldn’t risk hurting the attendance by taking it out of Lansing. This event has grown and thrived here for over a quarter-century. Sometimes you just stick with what’s working.” Again, spoken like a true coach.

Photography John young

By BrEndAn Dwyer


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SEPTEMBER 2009 11


Youth Football Scores Again Success Begins Long Before Friday Night’s Lights

We read about high school football teams in the newspaper and see their highlights on local television. But long before those Friday night heroics, the seeds of success are sown across Mid-Michigan.

Set, Hut East Lansing Pony League players practice in August at McDonald Middle School.

12 SEPTEMBER 2009

Welcome to the world of youth football and all its programs in local communities. It’s here where thousands of boys learn the game – and usually much more than that. Take the Mid-Michigan Youth Football League. Comprised of 13 different organizations, it includes teams in four divisions for ages 7 to 14 in Lansing. According to Karry Smith, the league’s president, the 800 to 1,000 boys and girls who compete in the league – including cheerleaders – are there to learn life skills first, football and cheerleading second. “We’re really trying to build character and integrity in all the kids and cheerleaders,” Smith said. “We look at this as mentoring and raising kids in our community.” The same goals hold true for the Lansing Eastern Junior Quakers. The Quakers compete in the Tri-County Youth Football League, which features teams from Lansing Catholic and the communities of Holt, Grand Ledge, East Lansing, Okemos, Haslett, St. Johns, DeWitt and Waverly. “Our main emphasis is teaching good sportsmanship, proper techniques and the proper playing of the game and life lessons,” said Rich Monti, the coordinator for the Quakers’ youth football program. Terry Hall has coached the LA Dolphins in the Mid-Michigan Youth Football League

Photography TERRI SHAVER

BY ANDY FLANAGAN


graders play eight games, with no playoffs. “We’re more of a developmental league than a competitive league,” Monti said. Mid-Michigan Youth Football League teams play seven games, then have a week of playoffs. Smith said their teams are also eligible to play in tournaments outside of the league. Because of their setups, the leagues also view themselves differently in relation to

“We have to split them between the three schools, and a lot of kids have schools of choice,” he said. “It comes down to wins and losses and what they see (on the field). Of course, there’s also academics. But they pick and choose on what they see.” Another big difference is the fact the teams in the Tri-County Youth Football League are more likely to run the same

“Our main emphasis is teaching good sportsmanship, proper techniques and the proper playing of the game and life lessons.” - Quakers’ Youth Football Program Coordinator Rich Monti

Fun And Fundamentals Zach Francisco, an eighth-grade Pony League quarterback, works on his drop and delivery. for about nine years, moving between older and younger kids. He said his main focus is making sure his players learn discipline, respect and responsibility. “It’s sort of like a boot camp for them,” Hall said. “We try to get them ready for the world, to know how to treat people.” Hall is coaching the youngest players this year, the Mighty Mites. Thus, he said he spends less time on discipline with them because they still listen to their parents. “When they get to 12 and 14 (years old), we straight-talk them,” Hall said, adding that getting the players to go to school and remain there is one of his biggest tasks. The two leagues are run differently. The Tri-County Youth Football League plays a set number of games according to the players’ ages. The fourth and fifth graders play about six games, with the number of games increasing as the players get older. Eighth

high school teams. Take the Tri-County Youth Football League. According to Monti, the Junior Quakers’ mission is to be a “feeder” program for Eastern High. “Our main focus is to take kids at a younger age and develop them so they have all the skills by the time they get to high school,” he said. Smith, on the other hand, said that his teams aren’t set up that way. “I don’t look at ourselves as a feeder program. We don’t have a lot of participation or support from the high schools. We’re kind of our own entity,” he said. “Probably 80-90 percent of our kids go to Sexton, Eastern and Everett anyway.” Everett High head coach Marcelle Carruthers said he appreciates the work put in by the coaches at the Mid-Michigan Youth Football League. Because the Lansing School District hasn’t had middle school football for several years, the league is necessary if Lansing’s three high schools are to be competitive. “We count on the youth coaches for teaching the fundamentals of running, jumping and tackling,” Carruthers said. “When (the players) do arrive to us, they are able to show the talent they have. Without the Mid-Michigan Youth Football League, there’s no telling what we would have.” But while players in the Tri-County Youth Football League are essentially tied to a certain high school, some of the players in the Mid-Michigan Youth Football League have the option of attending any of the three Lansing high schools. That can put the Lansing schools at a competitive disadvantage, Carruthers said.

plays as the high school teams. Because teams in the Mid-Michigan Youth Football League don’t have ties to one particular city school, they are free to come up with their own offensive and defensive schemes. “The outlying schools are teaching the same system that let’s say Holt is going to run when they get to high school, but we can’t do that in Lansing,” Carruthers said. “That’s another reason we’re behind the

Taking Instruction Seventh-grade Pony League players listen and learn before drills.

SEPTEMBER 2009 13


Youth Football Scores Again

Preparing To Win East Lansing Pony League players line up for stretching and instruction at McDonald Middle School. 8 ball. Holt can teach the same blocking schemes (at the youth level that will be used at the high school level). “But that’s where the fundamentals that are taught (by the Mid-Michigan Youth Football League coaches) make it easy to catch up. The kids that are from those youth programs are the ones who turned the (Everett) program around.” Unfortunately, it may be because of numbers and not schemes that will put the three Lansing high schools at an overwhelming competitive disadvantage with the suburban schools. According to Karry Smith, the number of players in seventh and eighth grades has been declining in recent years. This year, for instance, he had to push back the start of the older players’ division one week because of declining numbers. “That’s becoming a problem, and it’s starting to filter into the high schools,” Smith

said. “I’ve been seeing this trend the last three or four years. We’re really struggling to keep kids.” Monti noted that the Junior Quakers program has about 100 players. But he also said that where the Junior Quakers field one fourth/fifth-grade team, Grand Ledge has nine fourth/fifth-grade teams, and Holt has five or six at that level. Monti conceded that the higher numbers in those two programs indicate there is more interest in football for youth in those communities. But he also pointed out that the Junior Quakers are one of 14 organizations (counting the Mid-Michigan Youth Football League) that feature teams in Lansing. “What makes their numbers bigger than ours is they’re the only game in town,” Monti said of the suburban schools. “If a kid wants to play in Holt, he plays for the Holt Junior Rams.” The Junior Quakers play their games at

Eastern High’s practice field. The Junior Quakers began as the Eastside Spartans, an organization Monti said existed for about 18 years. The Junior Quakers are funded by the Eastern Touchdown Club. The Mid-Michigan Youth Football League plays its games at Gardner Middle School. Smith said the Mid-Michigan Youth Football League is a self-funded organization. “We calculate what we need to operate for the season, and that amount is divided among all the teams,” he said, adding that teams then hold fund-raisers. Smith has been president of the league for five years. Prior to that, he coached in the league for seven years. “At one time I was coaching and running the league,” he recalled. “I did that for one year before it killed me.” Not exactly. Smith seemed very much alive. And despite its struggles, so did youth football in Greater Lansing.

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All Part Of The Game Youth Football Provides A Chance To Cheer BY ANDY FLANAGAN

Photography TERRI SHAVER

It’s not just boys who are drawn to youth football leagues in the Lansing area. There are also several hundred girls who cheer on the teams in the Mid-Michigan Youth Football League and the TriCounty Youth Football League. One girl who enjoys cheering at the youth level is Jerica Woyke. Jerica cheers for one of the sixth-grade teams at Grand Ledge. This is her second year cheering for football. She has also cheered competitively in Grand Ledge for four years. “I like the football (cheerleading) better,” Jerica said. “You do more (routines) and you get to watch the game as well.” Jerica’s mom, Stacy Woyke, agreed. “I think overall they have more fun with football. Not that competitive cheerleading is not fun, but there’s more pressure with it,” she said. Stacy Woyke said it’s easier on her when Jerica is cheering for the boys football team. “I have a lot of stress when she’s

Cheering For Fun Grand Ledge’s Jerica Woyke supports her youth football team.

Showing Their Spirit DeWitt’s youth cheerleaders generate support for the players.

competitive cheering. You want them to do so well,” Woyke said. “Cheering for football is a lot of fun. You can watch the game and it’s more relaxed. You can see them (cheerleaders) having a lot of fun.” Stacy Woyke said she believes it is important for girls to begin cheerleading at a young age if they hope to be cheerleaders in high school. She also noted that the pom pom team in Grand Ledge is very popular as well. “Between the two, the younger you start and the more you know about it, the better,” she said. The Mid-Michigan Youth Football League concludes its football season with a

cheerleading competition the Saturday following the end of the season. This year that event will take place Oct. 31. “That’s pretty serious,” said league president Karry Smith, adding that the event is also open to other cheerleading teams that meet the age requirements. Stacy Woyke said that Jerica has twohour practices three days a week. Besides the tumbling and stunts, the girls also learn about the game of football. The girls are also taught to treat each other with respect, and to respect the opposing team. “It’s pretty organized. I love that personally,” Stacy Woyke said. “It keeps the girls more organized too.” SEPTEMBER 2009 15


Still Pulling Surprises St. Johns’ Andy Schmitt Delivers For EMU BY JACK EBLING


Andy Schmitt has done the improbable and the near-impossible. Can the absolutely incomprehensible be just a few months away?

Photography Eastern michigan university

As a senior at St. Johns High, he quarterbacked Dave Mariage’s team to an 11-3 record, the best in school history, and gave mighty Lowell its first scare of 2004 in the Division 3 state championship game. The Redwings were underdogs five straight weeks and never played at home in the playoffs.

Four years later, as a redshirt-junior at Eastern Michigan, Schmitt had arguably the greatest statistical week in NCAA football history. He completed 108 of 156 passes for an even 1,000 yards, threw for eight touchdowns and ran for three more TDs in games just six days apart. To put Schmitt’s numbers in perspective, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State have won Rose Bowls, been ranked No. 1 on New Year’s Day and captured national titles with fewer than 108 completions in entire seasons. This year, under new head coach Ron English, the Eagles will try to shock the MAC the way they have stunned Central Michigan the past two seasons. And even if EMU can’t win the conference or advance to a bowl, Schmitt should get a shot in an NFL camp, if his health cooperates. “My No. 1 goal is to change things right here,” the 6-foot-4, 238-pounder said between workouts in Ypsilanti. “One at a time, we’ll get people to buy in and change the mindset. That’s what I came to Eastern to do.” By the time he leaves, Schmitt will be known for more than great success against the Chippewas. He will have been a building block, not a road block, for everything a new-look program hopes to accomplish. “Coach English is great,” Schmitt said of the head Eagle, a former Michigan defensive coordinator. “I’m just thankful to be able to play one year of football for him. He’s very focused. And he knows where we need to get.” When Schmitt was growing up in St. Johns, he finally got a chance to show the skeptics what he could do. Some noticed that year. Others needed more proof. And they got that irrefutable evidence late last November. In a 55-52 loss at Temple, Schmitt was 50-for-76 for 484 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for two scores. And he

set an NCAA single-game record for the most attempts without an interception. The following Friday against CMU, Schmitt completed 58 throws, an NCAA mark, in 80 attempts and gained 516 yards, all MAC records. He had five TD tosses and a rushing tally, all before halftime, in EMU’s 56-52 upset. “It isn’t often you score 52 points and lose,” Schmitt said. “I saw that happen twice in less than a week. But when you get in a groove like that, you feel you can’t be stopped. We spread the field with five wide receivers and got great protection. It was one of those days.” Schmitt thought his college days might be spent on the baseball diamond, not the football field, until he signed his letter-of-intent – another strange story. Growing up, he was a shortstop in the summer and a running back and middle linebacker in the fall. “My dad was my Little League Football coach,” Schmitt said. “He was a factory worker in Ithaca. But he was always there to help me. And my brother, Scott, was two years older. As soon as he started playing, I was the water boy. I loved being around it and playing baseball, basketball and soccer in those days.” The bloodlines were strong. His father, Dave Schmitt, was a very good athlete in Fowler, quarterbacking the football team, playing basketball and running track. And his mom, the former Amy Snyder, played volleyball, basketball and softball for the Eagles. “There’s a lot of Fowler in me,” Schmitt said. “I have the most supportive family you can imagine. Fowler and St. Johns are a lot alike in terms of hard work and blue-collar attitudes. They’re both sports-oriented towns. And life there centers around family and friends.” His brother is finishing his degree at CMU and grinning when classmates say, “Tell your brother to take it easy on us!” But that twoSEPTEMBER 2009 17


Not All Arms And Legs St. Johns native Andy Schmitt can beat teams by passing, running or just leading the Eastern Michigan offense.

year dominance wouldn’t have happened if the Chippewas or the Northwestern Wildcats had shown more interest. “Central had a different staff then,” Mariage said. “But I never saw Brian Kelly. He sent an assistant to the school. They wanted him to play tight end. I said, ‘Hey, this kid can throw the ball!’ I hand-delivered tapes to MSU. And I called Northwestern and Stanford. They wouldn’t even accept them. He didn’t go to the right camps. I really felt bad for the kid.” “I could’ve gone to Grand Valley,” Schmitt said. “They offered before my senior season. Then, Eastern called. Central came in with a grayshirt offer, where I’d enroll in January. But at Eastern, I knew the situation. There was a senior quarterback, Matt Bohnet from Grand Ledge, so I knew I’d redshirt. I’d always dreamed of being a Division I quarterback and turning a program around.” He had already helped do that once. St. Johns was looking for a new identity on offense and found the ideal leader for a wide-open system. But even Mariage needed a second look to know what he had. “We didn’t bring him up right away as a 18 SEPTEMBER 2009

sophomore,” Mariage said. “Then, in a JV game at Mount Pleasant, he threw an interception. Like a laser, Andy went after that kid and really lit him up. He’d always played nice on the field. But right then, something clicked. The next Monday, we moved him up.” It wasn’t long before Schmitt started moving his team into the end zone. And long before anyone said, “That kid is a pro!” he was part of a process. For the Redwings, that was all part of the fun. “He had a pretty good junior year,” Mariage said. “We won our first district championship, which was pretty big for the school. When we started going to spread formations and throwing the ball, it was mostly due to him…I wish we had him now, when we know what we’re doing.” St. Johns needed a different scheme. Schmitt just pushed the coaches that way. Suddenly, opponents were punished for putting 10 defenders near the line of scrimmage. And it was nice to have a quick-strike capacity in the final two minutes of a half. “We were 8-4 that year with some great, hard-nosed kids,” Mariage said. “But we had a lot of kids back the following season who

hadn’t gotten to play. That was part of the reason we were an underdog in every game at the end of the year.” Schmitt had a lot to do with that development, on and off the field. St. Johns didn’t have a weightlifting class. But a three-sport athlete and a 3.8 student led by example. He lifted weights three days a week at 6:15 a.m. and never missed a session, even after Tuesday night basketball games. “I remember we had a pretty good summer,” Schmitt said. “That’s when guys really started to buy in. We were 6-0 and had nothing to compare it to. We’d never done that at St. Johns before. So we just kept working and winning.” Four playoff upsets put the Redwings into the championship game against the vaunted Red Arrows, a team that usually had huge leads by halftime. Against St. Johns, the first half was anyone’s game. “It was a crazy game, the first time they’d been tied at halftime,” Schmitt remembered. “It was Keith Nichol’s sophomore year. They’d beaten East Grand Rapids in the regional at Lowell. And a bunch of us went over to watch it. We stood next


Still Pulling Surprises to their guys and left saying ‘Wow!’ Still, we were only down a touchdown with 8 minutes left.” “We got some breaks,” Mariage said. “The one thing that was overlooked was that our defense was pretty darned good. Still, Andy made some unbelievable plays. The one where he ran all the way across the field, then threw back for a 40-yard TD, not many guys could do that. But Lowell was scary. It was unbelievable that year. We just didn’t want to get embarrassed.” Schmitt wasn’t embarrassed in two games in Spartan Stadium and two in Michigan Stadium, where he scored again on Sept. 19, before injuring his knee. His first career TD pass came at MSU, where he had dreamed of playing as a kid. He also had a rushing score there last year, as he did at U-M in 2007. The Eagles were 0-4 in those games, as most would expect. They also lost to Army, Northwestern and the Wolverines to begin

2009. But when a team like Toledo can win in Ann Arbor en route to a 5-7 finish, it makes Schmitt think anything is possible. That would include being drafted or making an NFL team as a free agent. At this point, he can identify with both starting Super Bowl quarterbacks, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger from a MAC school and Arizona’s Kurt Warner, whose odyssey makes Schmitt look like Matthew Stafford. “I like watching the rookie quarterbacks in the pros,” said Schmitt, a math education major and future coach. “But I really don’t get caught up in that. I’m not looking ahead. I want to enjoy my senior year. And I’ve seen what happens when guys base everything on making the NFL. I know the chances are slim.” Not according to a coach who has watched pro passers develop in practice and seen them show their talents in bowl games. “We don’t compete in the Big Ten,” English

said. “What we hope to do is take MAC-level players and make them BCS or pro players by the time they leave. That requires the ability to evaluate in a very detailed manner. And MAC teams have done a great job of evaluating. The best quarterbacks in this league are all 6-3 plus. And they can throw the football. They may have come in raw, but we’ll take a guy like Andy Schmitt who’s not as polished as a Chad Henne. “In terms of height, weight and speed, Andy has all the measurables. We won’t run spread-option football this year. We’ll have more of a pro-style attack. This kid has never taken a snap under center. He’s learning to do that and to read coverages. So the sky’s the limit. How fast can we get him to be a big-time quarterback? I don’t know. But we’re working hard at it.” Did someone mention hard work? You can almost see Schmitt’s smile from 70 miles away.

SEPTEMBER 2009 19


Best Foot Forward Stats Don’t Tell The Story For Holt’s Josh Barens BY STEVE GRINCZEL

Twelve minutes and 23 seconds elapsed before Josh Barens touched the ball for the first time. If this were football, the fans in the stands would have wondered why the quarterback wasn’t handing the ball to the stud tailback. If it were basketball, they’d be thinking there was something wrong with the star combo guard because he wasn’t passing or shooting. And if it were baseball, they’d figure their slugging firstbaseman was suddenly afraid to swing.

20 SEPTEMBER 2009

Photography INTERNATIONAL SPORTS IMAGES, INC.

Putting His


Representing With Style Holt’s Josh Barens receives trophy as captain of the Michigan Wolves’ U-15/16 National Championship team in California.

But this is soccer, and soccer does things in its own time. Then, just like that, the most accomplished spectator on the pitch had the ball on his foot, if only for a moment. Barens, a senior midfielder on the Holt High soccer team, deftly directed the ball to the left wing where freshman Justin Pratt brought it under control and sent a crossing pass into “the mixer” for a scoring chance. The Rams didn’t capitalize that time, but Barens helped keep the possession alive with some individual ballwork. Eventually, junior Ben Gates scored off a pass from Pratt to give Holt a 1-0 lead against Ann Arbor Pioneer. Barens didn’t get credit for an assist or goal in the scoring line. Yet, it all started with that flick of the ankle to Pratt. A short time later, Barens dribbled into the left side of the Pioneer penalty area, looking to score. With no opening to exploit,

however, he passed the ball. It ended up, tic-tac-toe, to the right of the goal where Gates gathered in the last pass. With Barens setting up at point-blank range about 6 yards from the center of the goal line, Gates angled toward the near post. And with the goalkeeper frozen by the prospect of a short cross going to the unmarked Barens, Gates simply-as-can-be rolled the ball between the goalie’s outstretched hand and the post for a 2-0 advantage. Again, Barens received no statistical credit, but it all started with him. “I’m not a goal-scorer,” Barens said as if there’s a higher purpose in soccer. “Last year I had 24 goals, but I had 25 assists. I think of myself more as a set-up guy. In the higher levels, I won’t be scoring that many goals.” For years, if not decades, high school soccer in the Greater Lansing area has been the domain of – in alphabetical order – East Lansing, Mason and Okemos. Holt had middling success over a decade

ago with the plodding style it played on a home field intentionally cut with the grass high to slow down swifter opponents. Unfortunately, with all things being equal, the Rams were also relatively slower. Holt’s rise to soccer prominence, with last season’s Capital Area Activities Conference Gold Cup championship, parallels that of Barens. He has gone from driven youth player to nationally acclaimed age-group performer to Michigan State University scholarship designee to international exposure this summer. Barens returned just in time from England, where he participated in a 10-day training camp with Derby County FC Rams professional club, to help the Holt Rams defeat Pioneer, 3-1. With Barens, Holt is expected to again challenge the Big Three for the CAAC Gold Cup and make a deep run in the state tournament The Lansing area has sent several players on to the college ranks, most notably Doug SEPTEMBER 2009 21


Center Of Attention Barens patrols the pitch and controls the action as Holt chases a state championship.

DeMartin of Mason. DeMartin blossomed at MSU and ended his college career with Big Ten regular-season and tournament championships, the league scoring title with 17 goals and 37 points and All-America and conference Player of the Year honors. The crossbar may move up again with Barens, who captained the Livonia-based Derby County Wolves – sponsored by their

“I think he’s going to be the most accomplished player to come out of here in quite some time,” Holt coach Aaron Smith said. “He has won two national championships with his club. And he has helped a Holt program, one that has had some good years but been no better than second or third in the area, win the Gold Cup for the first time. “We beat Okemos for the first time ever.

“Hard work,” he said. “It’s simple as that. What you put in is what you get out. I just want to be the best I can be. I want to go pro. It’s been my dream ever since I was a little kid.” Josh Barens

English namesake – to their second straight U.S. Soccer Development Academy Under 15/16 national championship. On July 17, the Wolves defeated Cal Odyssey, 1-0, at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., in a game televised by ESPNClassic. 22 SEPTEMBER 2009

We beat Okemos, East Lansing and Mason in the same season. And we beat Okemos three times. I don’t think anyone’s ever beaten Okemos three times in the same year. DeMartin was a very good and accomplished high school player, but I see Josh being maybe

more polished going in to college.” With his buzzed sandy-colored hair and his typical wiry teen-age physique, it’s understandable if Barens doesn’t stand out as some athletic wunderkind. Then again, neither does Landon Donovan, U.S. Soccer’s all-time leading goals and assist leader. It’s often what isn’t seen on the surface that defines a soccer player. Barens was introduced to soccer by his grandfather, Joe Matthyssen, a fixture in the Lansing soccer refereeing community for 30 years before retiring last year at the age of 78. In the mid-1950s, Matthyssen played semi-professionally with the forerunner of Football Club Utrecht in The Netherlands before moving to Holt. He began to impart his knowledge of the game to his young protégé during family visits. “When he was 6 or 7 years old, I took him out the backyard and started passing the ball to him,” Matthyssen said. “One time I passed it, and he missed it. I said, ‘OK Josh, go get it.’ And he said, ‘No Ompah, you do it. You pass too hard.’ So I took him inside, his mom and dad talked to him, and there never was a problem with him after that.”


Photography REDGROOVE PHOTOGRAPHY and patrick schooley

Putting His Best Foot Forward

If anything, Barens’ passion for the game was stoked. “His coaches have told me, from Detroit and everywhere, he’s unbelievable. Whatever you tell him to do, he does it,” Matthyssen said. “Individually, it’s his passing, his love for the game. He’s absolutely crazy about it. He’s definitely a team-sport man. He reads the game very well, which is critical.” Dennis Barens said that his son once spent all of his birthday money on training devices, including a set of free weights, even though he was still too young to start lifting. Barens still runs through the agility ladder, with the resistance parachute and the weight-bearing sled attached to a 10-foot chain. Those individual workouts are supervised by his dad and have attracted Rams teammates. When Josh was away at national training camp a few years ago, Dennis needed 10 coats of green paint to put a scale-sized soccer field on one of his bedroom walls. “He might get some of his speed from me, and my husband was also very athletic,” said Barens’ mother, Yvonne, a GM engineer who still holds Holt High records in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the

4X400 relay. “His whole life revolves around soccer. He started playing when he was 4 and has pretty much been playing year-round ever since. From the minute he gets up, he’s either looking forward to practice or the next game.” Barens plays on his high school team in the fall and on his club team the rest of the year. It’s his work ethic, also reflected in his 3.9 grade-point average, which sets him apart. “If your best player is the guy who’s always running the hardest, that’s the best thing for a coach,” Smith said. “If somebody isn’t working, you can always point to him. He’s a Division I player coming through our program, and that’s special.” Effort and attitude have taken Barens a long way. Through his affiliations with club teams, he has played all over the country. He participated in the Olympic Development Program for three years, including at the national level in ’05, before the Derby County Wolves were tabbed by the Development Academy. Metro Detroit-based Vardar Soccer Club is the only other Michigan club represented in the elite Development Academy, which features just 64 teams nationwide. Barens was invited, along with two Wolves teammates and one Vardar player, to practice with Derby County’s English Academy team and scrimmage the parent club. “They were just bigger,” Barens said of the overseas experience. “They were strong and played more physical, but it’s not like they were more skilled. I felt like if I was there for a couple weeks, I’d fit right in. “But everything’s gone by so fast, sometimes I wonder, `How did I even get here?’” It didn’t take Barens long to answer his own question or explain why he’s so driven. “Hard work,” he said. “It’s simple as that. What you put in is what you get out. I just want to be the best I can be. I want to go pro. It’s been my dream ever since I was a little kid.” Before he gets to play with his favorite

team, Manchester United of the English Premier League, or in the German Bundesliga, in Italy’s Serie A or in Spain’s Primera Liga, Barens will continue to develop his game. He was heavily recruited by the University of Louisville. But when new Spartans head coach Damon Rensing assured Barens that he’d be able to take advantage of all the latest training techniques at MSU, he followed his heart. “I’ve grown up watching State my whole life, so getting a chance to play for them is really exciting and a big help for me to go to the next level,” Barens said. “They’ve got a lot of good recruits coming in, and I think everybody’s confident we can play with anyone. “I’ve played all over, but I haven’t really accomplished anything yet,” he added. “I’m really excited to play for Holt this year. Holt has never won a state championship, but a lot of people are saying this is our year. Winning a state championship would mean a lot. I feel I have to be more of a leader and push everybody to be the best they can be. If we work hard, we can win states.”

Ball On A String Barens maneuvers to create another scoring chance for the Rams.. As the clock wound down against Ann Arbor Pioneer, Barens had the ball oneon-one with a defender. Finally breaking free with 10 seconds left, he blasted a leftfooted shot that sailed wide of the post into the evening shadows. Rest assured, it won’t end with Barens there. “I always feel like I can get better,” he said. SEPTEMBER 2009 23


Hebert Makes History, Area Makes Friends Michigan PGA Championship, Four-Time Champ Love Eagle Eye/Hawk Hollow BY TOM LANG

Serious Trophy Collector Four-time Michigan PGA champion Scott Hebert is flanked by Executive Director Kevin Helm (Left) and Eagle Eye General Manager Alex Coss.

24 SEPTEMBER 2009

The Michigan PGA Championship is steeped in history, dating back to 1922, but has seen history made in just the past four years at Eagle Eye Golf Club – in what has become Greater Lansing’s greatest golf showcase.


Photography TIM HYGH

Scott Hebert, head pro at Grand Traverse Resort, won his record fourth title in a row with a course-record 64 in the final round late last month, finishing at 17-under-par 199 for three rounds, the first time he has broken 200. He won the event by 13 strokes, another record by all accounts. All four of Hebert’s wins have come since 2006, when the tournament moved to the Eagle Eye and Hawk Hollow complex that straddles the East Lansing-Bath border. No other golfer has won more than two Michigan PGAs consecutively. One of those was the great Walter Hagen in 1930-31. The Michigan PGA winner has long been invited to the Buick Open. And Hebert has also played in the last two PGA Championships – at Oakland Hills and Hazeltine. “Fans who do not come out here are missing the opportunity to see golf at another level,” Eagle Eye General Manager Alex Coss said. “Obviously, the PGA Tour is another level. But there are guys out here that are playing those Tour events, too.” Coss said that is part of why Eagle Eye and Hawk Hollow host such events – though the properties would make more money by not doing so. “Does it help with revenue? No,” Coss said. “If I just had public play here every day instead of this (Michigan PGA), we would make more money. However, there are certain things I believe that every golf course should do for the game of golf. “There is the marketing part of the equation. It exposes 170-plus golf pros to our facility. And there’s the word-of-mouth. But it also brings up the level of credibility to your facility – to show that the best come to play here.”

In addition to the Michigan PGA the past four years, Eagle Eye and Hawk Hollow hosted a National PGA Junior Series tournament, a USGA Senior Open qualifier, a Srixon Junior Tour event and the GAM (Golf Association of Michigan) Women’s Senior Amateur this year alone. Previously, Eagle Eye has also hosted two U.S. Open qualifiers.

of other states and Canada. Michigan PGA President Dave Kendall likes the two different styles of course layouts and challenges at Eagle Eye and Hawk Hollow, forcing golfers in the tournament to play complete games rather than playing one course that favors one style of golf. “I got more unsolicited comments from

“Fans who do not come out here are missing the opportunity to see golf at another level,” - Eagle Eye General Manager Alex Coss

The complex is also known for hosting weddings, corporate meetings and banquets. They average 280 wedding receptions per year and opened a chapel on site last November to accommodate any wedding from start to finish. Hawk Hollow, which opened in 1996, totals 1,100 acres, Eagle Eye (2003) is 450 acres, and The Falcon (2004) nine-hole course sits on 60 acres. Eagle Eye was ranked the 10th best golf course in Michigan in 2008 by GolfWeek magazine. Then there is the Little Hawk naturalgrass putting course – with no resemblance at all to the traditional clown-face mini-golf businesses. Coss said Little Hawk has the fastest-growing revenue percentage of other sectors of the complex. “There are more non-golfers who play the Little Hawk course than there are golfers,” Coss said. “You can go out there on a Friday and Saturday night, and it’s wallto-wall people. It’s anywhere from families to people on dates to college kids just having fun. I mean, it covers everything.” The PGA Michigan Section headquarters is also on Eagle Eye-adjoining property. The newer location centralized the organization for its state-wide membership, moving from Livonia in 2005. Its other premier tournaments, hosted at different sites, are the Michigan Open, which attracts pros and the best amateurs each June, and the Michigan Women’s Open, which draws professional and amateur women from dozens

players this year than before, amazed and appreciative of what a great job the staff and volunteers do here,” said Kevin Helm, executive director of the Michigan Section. “It adds to the whole experience and the tournament feel. They make everything nice and smooth for the players. So we are fortunate they make things easier for us to run the tournament.” When the Michigan PGA began in 1922, it was won by eventual nine-time champ Al Watrous of Oakland Hills. Then came Hagen. Jimmy Demaret was the 1943 Michigan PGA champ and won three Masters and 31 PGA Tour events overall. Horton Smith of the Detroit Golf Club won it in 1948. And Smith won the first Masters ever played at Augusta National. The last Mid-Michigan winner of the event was John DalCorobbo, formerly of Forest Akers at MSU, in 2005. Hebert has won it ever since – and done so by historic proportions.

SEPTEMBER 2009 25


Pros, Fans Share In Assist The Goal? To Put Childhood Cancer On Thin Ice

Apparently, giving back doesn’t end for Michigan State hockey players once they move on to professional careers. On Aug. 19, fans had the opportunity to skate on the Munn Arena ice with some of the program’s brightest stars – and all for a good cause. train for their upcoming professional seasons, served as an exciting backdrop for this new program. After that day’s Pro Camp session, fans paid $10 for the opportunity to skate with several of the professional players, followed by an autograph session on the north concourse. Posters with pictures of participating players were available to all attendees for the autograph session, but the players signed their share of jerseys, flags and other Spartan memorabilia. “We had a great crowd out here today, and I want to thank everyone who came out to support this cause,” noted Shoot for a Cure founder Justin Abdelkader. “From our alums who participated to the fans who came out to enjoy the afternoon, I think everyone had a great time.” Skate with the Pros was the brainchild of recent Spartans Abdelkader, Following A Hero Jeff Lerg and some new friends enjoy Bryan Lerg and Jeff Lerg, Skate with the Pros. all of whom were involved

In conjunction with MSU’s Pro Camp, a group of 20 former Spartans now playing professional hockey participated in the first annual Skate with the Pros, with all money raised going to the fight against children’s cancer. Pro Camp, a unique program that brings MSU hockey alums back to East Lansing to

26 SEPTEMBER 2009

with MSU’s community service initiatives as undergrads and have continued to participate in MSU’s activities as their professional careers began. Abdelkader began “Shoot for a Cure” in January of 2008 as an offshoot of the Spartan Buddies program, started by East Lansing native Drew Miller. Spartan Buddies brought MSU athletes to the pediatric ward at Sparrow Hospital, playing games and signing autographs for seriously and critically ill children. As Abdelkader and several of his teammates developed friendships with several children battling cancer and their families, the then-junior wanted to do more - and the Shoot for a Cure initative was born. “It was so great to see people get involved in Spartan Buddies when it first started, and to see the involvement grow through Shoot for a Cure is even better,” said Miller, who was traded from Anaheim to Tampa Bay during the Pro Camp. “The guys who come back here know how important giving back to the community is for this program. The kids we meet are important first and foremost. And its great that Shoot for a Cure has allowed MSU to add to that by providing help financially in the fight against children’s cancer.” “When I got the email from Justin about Skate with the Pros, I thought it was a great idea,” added Mike Weaver, who played at MSU from 1996-2000 and now patrols the blue line for the St. Louis Blues. “MSU a big part of my life, I spent four great years here. Being able to give back is a great opportunity.”

Photography MSU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

BY JAMIE WEIR


Shoot for a Cure has recently partnered with Brandon’s Defense Foundation, which was created in honor of Brandon Gordon, a DeWitt teen who became very close with the MSU program during his two-year battle with osteosarcoma. His foundation, run by his mother, Julie, not only helps fund children’s cancer research, but also donates significant resources to improve patient quality of life at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing - which is where Brandon first met members of MSU’s hockey team. “The first week he was diagnosed, Brandon met Chris Snavely, Justin Abdelkader and Tim Kennedy,” Julie Gordon said. “The MSU hockey program kept him going and was a huge inspiration for him to continue to battle and fight to get rid of his cancer. The hockey program and the university were

very supportive of Brandon, and have been wonderful to our family. We thank them not only for the support they gave us, but now for their support of our initiatives with Brandon’s Defense Foundation.” A total of $1,752 was raised at Skate with the Pros through admission, merchandise sales and donations to both Shoot for a Cure and Brandon’s Defense. Since its inception in January 2008, Shoot for a Cure has raised nearly $22,000 for the fight against children’s cancer. The money has been raised through previous events, which included chuck-a-puck at MSU home games, silent auctions and a visit from the Stanley Cup last fall. Showing Support Ex-Spartan star Tim Kennedy provides an escort.

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Running The Flags louisiana Tech vs. michigan state EAST LANSING, MI 09/13/2003 PHOTOGRAPHED BY PETER R. SCHLITT

SEPTEMBER 2009 31


SPORT FINISH LINE

State-ing The Obvious Michigan Is Green & White (With Silver Lining) By Lou ANNA K. Simon President, Michigan State University

If you shift your attention from the action on the Spartan gridiron this season to focus closely on the back of our team’s helmets, you’ll notice a small silver outline of the state of Michigan. It’s a modest, but powerful statement.

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a facility that grew from a deep and multifaceted partnership involving several of our colleges and numerous faculty and staff. Earlier this year we cemented our position as a world-leading particle physics center by landing the half-billion-dollar federal Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, which is being readied for construction on our campus and promises hundreds of direct jobs. We’re expanding our physical presence in western and eastern Michigan’s population centers to extend educational, business and health care opportunities. We, with our University Research Corridor partners in Detroit and Ann Arbor, are enjoying excellent success in attracting federal research grants that enhance Michigan’s already considerable stature as a science powerhouse. And we made sure that General Motors, long a stalwart Spartan athletics sponsor, retains its honored position in a year when it can ill afford to continue its traditional and generous financial support of our program. Coach Mark Dantonio proposed the silver helmet emblem to declare, whether you bleed green or not, that Michigan State University stands with the people of Michigan – in hard times, in effort, in innovation, and in ultimate triumph. I appreciate that this concept came from within the University, creatively, and without prompting. Basketball coach Tom Izzo’s leadership and his team’s rise to the NCAA championship game in Detroit earlier this year reminded us of the genuine inspiration we can take from athletics. Side by side with the tenacious city of Detroit itself, Spartans positively influenced many Americans by demonstrating what determination in times of challenge looks like. Like our fight song says about Spartan teams, the state of Michigan is “bound to win.”

Presidential Perspective MSU’s Lou Anna K. Simon sees things the Spartan way.

In the same vein, Coach Dantonio and Athletic Director Mark Hollis recently engineered the Celebrate the State football series with our partner Michigan universities in Kalamazoo, Mt. Pleasant and Ypsilanti. This series keeps the money and the excitement right here in Michigan. It’s a winning arrangement for the whole state. And that’s the point of the Michigan silhouette, a thumbs-up gesture to all. Such a “silver lining” approach calls this state and this university to remain formidable players on the football field and on the competitive fields of the future – economic, intellectual and cultural. At Michigan State, we are convinced that the optimism derived from hard work and innovation, from commitment and from intellect, from heritage and from aspiration is on target. That’s the Spartan way. It’s the State of Michigan way.

Photography MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

Opposite the helmets’ white center stripe from the American flag, the new emblem is a reminder to the people of Michigan – and of the nation – that there are many reasons for bright hope in our state. There IS a silver lining. Michigan State is one proud example – on and off the field. We leave a $3 billion economic footprint each year in this state and nourish our roots here through worldwide research and business partnerships. We send more students abroad to study than almost any other university and bring many hundreds of the brightest overseas students, researchers and faculty to Michigan. In short, we bring the best of Michigan to the world and the best of the world to Michigan, and that isn’t going to stop even in the face of growing financial pressures. State support will likely continue to dwindle, so we’re taking the hard steps to deal with that reality, while simultaneously organizing ourselves to better meet the challenges of the 21st century. Michigan State fully intends to carry out its mission of offering a world-class education to the people of Michigan, to remain among the top 100 global universities and to serve as a beacon of hope and opportunity for all. Through our extension and economic development activities, we’re unlocking markets for Michigan entrepreneurs; through our engineering, we’re showing the promise of alternative fuels to the country; and through our research, we’re maximizing sustainable crop yields for the world. On the business side, we’re sharpening our focus on commercializing our proprietary technologies. We recently celebrated with global information technology company IBM the official opening of an application services delivery center near campus,


JUGGLING YOUR CAREER, FAMILY AND A PASSION FOR SPORTS? NO SWEAT. The Greater Lansing Sports Authority shares your passion for sports. Do you or someone in your family participate in a tournament sport that could be a good fit for the Greater Lansing area? Need a hand developing your sports event? The GLSA is here to help. For event information and what’s going on in the local sports scene visit www.lansingsports.org. That is, right after you save your company, your kid or maybe the planet Earth...

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sport: September 2009  

Greater Lansing Sport Magazine September 2009 Issue. Featuring Holt's soccer star Josh Barens putting his best foot forward, insiders on the...

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