In the four years since the Rockford High School graduating class of 2009 began their high school athletic career, Rockford has earned 31 OK Red conference championships, 20 district championships, eight state championships and many, many individual all-state achievements. Rockford’s Athletic Director Tim Erickson spoke before a crowd-including print and television news crews-on the achievements of 30 graduating student-athletes who announced their college and university choices on Thursday, May 7 at the Rockford Freshman Center.
Erickson pointed out that high school players are referred to as student-athletes, and that it is telling that the word student comes before athlete in the term. He said the school is proud to have had these fine athletes among our ranks the past four years, and just as important is the quality of their academic achievements as they leave high school for the next phase in their academic career.
In boys baseball, Erickson first talked to Brandon Erhart, who has committed to Adrian College. Erhart called the college a good fit for him, with a good chance that he will be able to play as a freshman. Erhart was recruited as a middle infielder at the college, which in 2008 finished fourth in the nation in their division and qualified for the NCAA Baseball World Series in Division III. Erhart is near the top in almost all offensive categories and holds a grade-point average (GPA) of 3.647.
Mike Parsell will play baseball for Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC). Parsell was a dual sport athlete for Rockford, also playing football. “The last time GRCC won a conference championship was in 1988. I’m on a quest to bring it home,” he said. Parsell was senior captain on his team and leads the Rams offensively. As of mid-April, Parsell was leading his team in hits, doubles, batting average, slugging percentage and total bases. He holds a 3.77 GPA.
Ethan Post has chosen to attend Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, also playing baseball. As a junior he was voted the Most Improved Player and received Academic All-State honors. At Rose-Hulman, he will play other Division III school athletes, including the Vampires of Transylvania. Post said Rose-Hulman is a good fit for him because it is one of the top engineering schools. He maintains a GPA of 4.3.
Shane Street will attend Spring Arbor University, where he was recruited as a catcher. He said the school is Christian-based and has a good baseball program. The school has made back-to-back trips to the NAIA World Series-a semifinalist in 2008 and runner-up in 2007. Street is leading the Rams this year with his outstanding defensive work behind the plate. The Ram captain is also regarded as one of the top catch-and-throw catchers in the area. He carries a GPA of 3.5.
Jacque Farmer announced her choice of Grand Rapids Community College, where she was very impressed with the basketball program and coach as well as the culinary arts program. Farmer was a senior point guard for the Lady Rams and captain her senior year. She is known for her ability to score and play tough defense. One of the quickest guards in the conference, Farmer helped lead the team to a second-place OK Red conference finish.
Jon Prins will attend Davenport University where he will be a strong addition to the men’s basketball program. Prins was named Athlete of the Month this year, and Most Improved his junior year. He was part of two district championship teams and this year’s regional championship team. He maintains a 3.3 GPA.
Gabe Vanderjagt has chosen Davenport University where he was impressed with the basketball coach and the other players. Vanderjagt said he was looking for a good business school and plans to study accounting and receive a masters degree in the field. Vanderjagt has earned three varsity letters at Rockford, was named Student of the Month, and earned All Conference, All Area and All State honorable mention. He thanked his father, brothers and coaches for his success to date. He has earned two academic letters and will graduate with a GPA of 3.5.
Matt VanPelt will attend and play basketball at Spring Arbor College. The student-athlete said he has been playing basketball as long as he can remember. He is excited to play in the number-one conference in the nation. He was impressed with the college’s education program and would like to become a teacher and coach himself. VanPelt has earned four varsity letters, been named Athlete of the Month, was Best Team Player his junior year, and is a two-time conference champion, four-time district champion and regional champion. He made the Michigan All Star team and is a National Honor Society member with a GPA of 3.9.
Katelynn Andreen will be cheering for Michigan State University (MSU) on the co-ed cheer team. Of her memories of Rockford, she said cheering on the football team as they won the state championship was one of her favorites. Andreen grew up watching MSU basketball and was attracted to the school’s pre-med program. At Rockford High School (RHS), she has also participated in sideline cheer and golf, and has earned five varsity letters. She has been an Academic All State her junior and senior years and earned a cheer scholarship in addition to her academic excellence which is shown by her GPA of 4.4.
Andrea Decker will also attend Michigan State University where she is interested in studying nursing or psychology. She has earned seven varsity letters at RHS in sideline cheer and competitive cheer, and has been a team leader. Decker was named All Conference twice, earned Third Team All District honors, and has been an Academic All State for four years. She has earned four academic letters and maintained a GPA of 3.9.
Danielle Gerow will attend Ferris State University where her brother is already in attendance. Gerow was attracted by the actuary science program at the college, and plans to put her talents of mathematics to use as a risk assessor for insurance programs. Gerow has won All District, All Region, Advance All Area First Team, Academic All State for three years, earned the Leadership award and the Orange and Black award in sideline cheer. Gerow has earned three academic letters, been on the honor roll her entire high school career, and maintains a GPA of 3.99.
Emily Harr has also chosen to attend Ferris State University and was impressed with their diagnostic medical sonography (ultrasound) program, a career choice she has had since she was a little girl. She thanked her parents as her mentors in cheerleading and said they have been there for all her competitions. Harr is a talented gymnast who is a base and back spot for the cheer team, showing her versatility and ability to be a team player. She has been on the Honor Roll every year, earned an academic letter her sophomore year, and will graduate with a GPA of 3.5. She earned a scholarship to attend Ferris.
Jennifer Denike will attend the University of Michigan. She has been coxswain for Rockford crew for four years and earned a first-place finish in the Michigan State Regatta (2008), and first at the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati, Ohio (2008) with over 14 states competing. Denike led her team to a fifth-place finish at the national regatta in Tennessee (2008) and has been an outstanding academic student. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA her entire high school career, an impressive accomplishment.
Darcy Peck will attend Grand Valley State University where she is impressed by their amazing crew program-they have competed in Europe and have done well. Peck noted that crew is a leg sport, although many people believe the work is done with the arms. Peck has racked up many top-three finishes in her crew career and worked with eight- and four-person teams as well as taking first in single skull. She graduates with a 3.5 GPA.
Jennifer Pearson looks forward to being a student at Alma College. She said the minute she walked onto the campus she fell in love with it. Alma’s academic program in pre-med made her choice easy. Pearson has also competed for RHS in track and basketball in addition to cross country. She has earned two varsity letters in track and cross country, was named Athlete of the Month, and has earned four academic letters while also performing in the marching band and being a National Honor Society member. Pearson graduates with a GPA of 4.3.
Kelcie Severson will attend Grand Valley State University where she will attend the honors college. She was impressed with Grand Valley’s coaching staff and plans to be on both the cross country and track teams. Severson has earned eight varsity letters, was named All Conference, All Region and Academic All State. She was named Most Valuable Freshman, and as sophomore Most Improved. A member of the National Honor Society all four years of high school and earning four academic letters, Severson graduates with a 4.3 GPA.
Brogan Bibler will attend Grand Valley State University. He has earned an incredible 10 varsity letters and played multiple varsity sports for RHS-in addition to football, Bibler has played basketball and track. Bibler said his brothers have attended Grand Valley and loved it, and he likes that the coaches there push the players hard. Bibler was All Conference two years in a row and was a member of the All Dream Team his senior year. He has earned four academic letters and graduates with a 3.6 GPA.
Landon Burris will attend Olivet Nazarene University, a school he chose because it was his mother’s school and is Christian-based. Burris is currently injured after blowing out his knee. His doctor, Burris said, called it the worst such injury he’d ever seen. Burris has earned two varsity letters in football, one in wrestling and four in crew. He was Athlete of the Month, received the Hammer Award in crew, and was a member of the 2008 state champion football team. While working hard on his athletic talents, Burris also earned Honor Roll status four years in a row while maintaining a 3.4 GPA.
Ryan Cochran will attend Kalamazoo College, where he was impressed with the education program as well as the football program. He plans to study engineering then go on to a further degree in architectural design. Cochran has been Athlete of the Month, earned Academic All State honors, was part of the state championship football team, and was selected Advance All Area honorable mention. He has been on the Honor Roll through high school and graduates with a 3.3 GPA.
Steve Fegel has chosen Northwood University, where he was impressed with the business program and hopes to start playing football as a freshman. He said the football program there is not so hot, but he plans to try to turn it around. Fegel was named to the Detroit Free Press All State team and was on both the All Area and All Conference teams. He is an active community member, a Relay For Life participant, and volunteers as a reader to area elementary schools. He will graduate with a GPA of 3.5.
Drew Maroe will attend Concordia University of Chicago. He chose the school because he liked the city, the coaches and the other players. He plans to major in education so he can coach. A high point of his career at Rockford was winning the state championship in football. Maroe earned two varsity letters in football and an OK Red honorable mention. He also participated in basketball, baseball and track. A member of the conference, district, regional and state championship football team, Maroe graduates with a GPA of 3.0.
Jordan Morren has also chosen to attend Concordia University of Chicago, where he joins the football team. He was awarded the Big Heart award from his coaching staff and was Most Valuable Player for the first game this season. He has earned two varsity letters in football and one in track. He maintains a 3.0 GPA.
Josh Osbun will attend Saginaw Valley State University, where he joins the football team. Osbun has earned two varsity letters in football and one in track. He was Defensive Player of the Year, named All Conference, and earned Most Valuable Player of the state championship football game. Osbun graduates with a GPA of 3.1.
Jesse Somsel has also chosen Saginaw Valley State University. The student-athlete has earned six varsity letters, two in football and four in wrestling. Somsel has been on two state championship football teams, and a state runner-up wrestling team. Somsel maintains a 3.0 GPA.
Nick Stokes will attend Grand Rapids Community College, where he is really impressed with the coach. He said 500 kids showed up to try out for the football team, and the head coach signed him up in 20 minutes. Stokes, who is injured, said he will work hard to recover in time for football season. Stokes has earned eight varsity letters, three in skiing, three in track, and two in football. He was named Athlete of the Year in track, All Area Honorable Mention in football, and was a member of the state championship football team. He was also awarded the Outstanding Academic Improvement award.
Michon Moline has chosen to attend Davenport University. Moline explained the difference between girls’ and boys’ lacrosse. “The boys get more contact, the girls use more skill,” she said. She said the team experienced a lot of big wins this year. At Davenport, she looks forward to joining a good lacrosse program. Moline is an honor student at RHS and is manager of the RHS Ram Shack and works part time as an administrative assistant at Lipe Industrial Services. Moline was selected as Student of the Month by the business education department at RHS. Moline has been awarded the Davenport Platinum and Michigan Promise scholarships.
Shelby Smith will attend Carthage College in Wisconsin. She said the school is the same size as Rockford High School, a bonus she liked, as well as its location on Lake Michigan. She is hoping for a dorm room with lake view. Smith looks forward to continuing to play lacrosse, a sport she has played for the past six years. She hopes to become a doctor and is glad to have found a college where her academic and athletic talents will grow. She graduates with a 3.6 GPA.
Gabe Stulp has chosen Indiana Tech. He is excited that he will be on the school’s first lacrosse team where he will play as goalie. He liked that Indiana Tech is a small school, and plans to study accounting. Stulp has played four years of lacrosse and football for RHS and earned two varsity letters in each sport. He was on the state championship football team and was named Practice Player of the Week. Stulp has earned an academic letter for improvement.
Ryan Curtis will attend Cornerstone University, where he received a soccer scholarship. Curtis was one of the most consistent players for Rockford in 2008. The midfield/forward was second in goals (eight), dished out six assists and had clutch, game-winning goals versus Grandville and Hudsonville in league play and Jenison in the OK Red conference soccer tournament.
Kristin Darby has chosen to attend the University of Michigan. She said it has always been her goal to attend this school and is excited to represent Rockford there. She likes the city of Ann Arbor, and while there plans to study pre-med with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. Darby has earned four varsity awards. She was the head varsity goalkeeper in soccer for four years, team captain her senior year, and has earned four varsity letters. As a senior, Darby has earned six shutouts to date. As a junior, Darby earned eight shutouts. As a sophomore, she earned the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association (MHSSCA) OK Red All Conference Award and All District Award. As a freshman, Darby earned the MHSSCA All State Honorable Mention award, All Regional award and All District award. She has a GPA of 4.4 and is ranked 17 out of 610 students.
Rachel Doud will attend Hope College. She was impressed with the soccer team, which earned second in their conference this year, and liked the strong pre-med program. She credits her success with her coaches throughout her career at Rockford, from her early years of SCOR to the conditioning the soccer team does with Coach Ralph Munger. Doud has earned four varsity letters, has been All District two years in a row, and is a three-time member of the Academic All American and Academic All State teams. She is president of the RHS National Honor Society has earned four academic letters, maintaining a 4.5 GPA.
Trevor Hunt will attend Cornerstone University, where he may start up another trashcan band like Trash Talkers at RHS. Hunt hopes to study physiology or physical therapy. He said he liked the coach at Cornerstone, although they were having their worst season in 40 years in soccer. Hunt has been a senior captain and an anchor at central defense for Rockford. He was nominated Most Valuable Player and awarded unanimous First Team OK Red and All District accolades.
Dean Witt chose Calvin College, where he was impressed with the coach, who called him and expressed strong interest in the student-athlete. Witt credits his faith in God for his success, and has many wonderful memories of his career at Rockford. Witt was a standout at both defensive central midfield and stopper for the Rams in 2008. The senior captain was constantly involved in getting forward into the attack and in most games was assigned the opposing team’s most dangerous player midfield. Witt was selected as this year’s Coaches Award winner for his work ethic, leadership and determination.
Mary Keeley will attend Boston College. She loves the college, is impressed with the coaches, and likes the nursing program there. Keeley has been one of the top swimmers to compete for Rockford. She holds varsity records in the 200 free, 200 free relay and the 400 free relay. She has been All State and All Conference in those events as well as the 100 free. Both teams also earned All American honors, in which Keeley turned in the second fastest split in school history. The captain in her senior year, Keeley has left an indelible mark on the Rockford girls varsity swimming and diving program.
Kelsey Vermeer will attend Grand Valley State University, a school that impressed her with the amount of money they offered her to attend. She said she plans to attend the honors college, and is glad to have friends who will also attend. Vermeer is Rockford’s all-time top sprint freestyler and butterflyer. This year, she broke the varsity record in both the 50 and 100 butterfly. She was also part of free relays that broke the varsity record in the 200 and 400. She placed second in the state in the 50 free and both free relays. She earned All State and All American honors in the 50 free and both free relays.
Emma Breen has chosen Grand Valley State University where her brother plays football. She is excited to go and said she likes everything about the school. At RHS, Breen has been the top long-jumper each season and was voted Most Improved her sophomore year. She has placed at both conference and regional meets each year and has been a top sprinter in everything from the 100 to 400. She earned All Conference as a sophomore and junior and was a three-time All State performer as a junior.
Becky Caywood will attend Hillsdale College. She loves the coach there and believes she will go far. Caywood said she hopes to become a physical therapist. Among her memories of her Rockford track career, she said she liked how the coaches kept things interesting and loved theme days. Caywood has been a top sprinter for Rockford. She earned All Conference as a sophomore and junior, was a two-time All State performer as a freshman and a three-time All State performer as a junior. In 2007, Caywood was team MVP, and won the Coaches Award for versatility and dependability in 2008.
Krysten Fischer will attend Michigan State University. She has been a strong sprinter for Rockford, but hopes to move up to 400s. She credits her parents, family, coaches and teammates for her success. Fischer has been an All Conference player during her sophomore and junior years and was a two-time All State performer in her freshman and junior years. She was selected by teammates as Sprint MVP in 2008, and was selected as recipient of the Coaches Award for versatility and dependability in 2007.
Daniele Putterman will attend Robert Morris College, which she describes as a little school in downtown Chicago. She likes the smaller campus there as well as the city. Putterman has been Rockford’s top hurdler and pole vaulter the last four seasons and she specializes in high hurdles. She is the first Rockford hurdler to qualify for the state meet in each of her first three years as a high hurdler.
Joel Rietsema has committed to attend Hope College. He plans to study nursing or pre-med, and said attending Rockford and competing has been a great journey that he has enjoyed immensely. He likes the Christian-based academics of Hope and looks forward to competing in the 400 and 800. He has been a middle distance runner for Rockford as well as a basketball player. He is one of Rockford’s most talented and dedicated athletes who will well represent the school at the collegiate level.
Katie Kasper will attend Elmhurst College, a school she chose because it is academically “really terrific.” She said she was pleased with the pre-med program as well as the volleyball team. She counts among her mentors her parents, coaches and teammates. Kasper has been a varsity volleyball player for two years and was chosen as captain by her teammates her senior year. She helped lead the varsity team to two Academic All State awards and two district championships. She led the team in numerous matches in blocks and kills. A force at the net, she gave the team a great offensive weapon from a position that usually doesn’t have them. Her coaches say she helped build the volleyball program to an elite level and hopes to continue that skill at Elmhurst.
Kyle Waldo chose Nebraska University after being heavily recruited. He chose Nebraska for the small, compact campus in the city. He likes that the school took fourth in the NVAA and called it a “powerhouse.” Waldo is only the second person in the state of Michigan to take four Division I state titles. He contributed to the success of the wrestling team that, over the past four years, went undefeated in league duals, earned four conference championships, four district championships, four regional championships and two Division I state championships. He is a technician of wrestling moves and is extremely dedicated to the sport. He was selected by his team as one of the co-captains and took time to mentor younger wrestlers. Waldo is the most accomplished wrestler to come through Rockford’s traditionally strong program. Among his stats are: record 49-2, career record 170-5, four-time OK Red conference champion, four-time Division I district champion, four-time Division I regional champion, and four time Division I state champion.