by BETH ALTENA
Six Rockford senior football players put it in writing and have committed to the college of their choice. On Wednesday, February 9 Rockford head Football Coach Ralph Munger invited the public and the media to an honorary signing of letters of intent, delayed one week from the first legal day student athletes can commit to a college or university. The event was cancelled a week prior because of the blizzard.
“We have a much nicer day for this than last week,” Munger noted, before introducing Nate Sanders, Tyler Pratt, Neil Vanderlaan, Brett Egnatuk, Colin Remtema and Parker Ehinger to a crowd of family and friends at Rockford High School. “Each of these young men have represented us well,” he stated. “Your parents, staff, community and teammates are proud of you and the team.”
Munger spoke about each of the athletes, noting that Parker Ehinger received high praise from coach Butch Jones of Cinncinati, his choice. Jones stated during a sports radio program that he couldn’t wait to get Parker down to Cincinati and that he knows he is getting a quality student-athlete when he accepts a Rockford player. Parker, #78, six-feet, eight inches and 270 pounds, plays offensive lineman and has been one of Rockford’s star players during his high school career. Parker is the son of Ric and Michelle Ehinger At Cincinnati he plans to pursue an education in criminal justice.
Colin Remtema, #29, six-feet, one inch at 191 plays offensive linebacker for the team. He was a two-year starter for Rockford who Munger described as a “pillar of our defense.” He said the athlete had an “unbelievable senior year.” Colin committed to playing football for Hillsdale College. Colin is the son of Dave and Diane. He chose Hillsdale because he immediately felt at home on the campus. In addition to continuing his athletic career he hopes to study in the medical field.
Tyler Pratt, #45, at six feet, one inch and 220 pounds was also a two-year starter for Rockford and played linebacker. Coach Munger also called him a pillar of the team’s defense. Tyler, along with Neil VanderLaan, committed to Saginaw Valley State University. Pratt’s position was offensive lineman. Tyler is the son of Jim and Janet. He hopes to pursue a degree in business management.
Nate Sanders, #21, six-feet and 185 pounds, suffered an injury while playing for Rockford High School as running back, committed to Olivete College. “It’s been a heck of a run,” Munger said of the team during Nate’s tennure. “We won 23 games and are 13-1 in the conference. We owe a thank you to the parents of these young men for how you raised your sons.” Nate is the son of Scott and Laurie.
Brett Egnatuk, #32, at six-feet, one inch and 215 pounds, and played inside linebacker, has committed to Central Michigan University. According to Munger “Eggy” was responsible for an incredible number of tackles, including 140 last season. Brett was one of the three team captains and is considered a preferred walk-on at Central. He is the son of Kevin and Donna. He hopes to study psychiatry, business or go into the medical field.
Neil VanderLaan, #4, five-foot eleven and 176 pounds, had a fabulous, fabulous senior year, according to Coach Munger. He has committed to Saginaw Valley State University. He played wide receiver during his athletic career with Rockford. Neil is the son of Cheryl and Jerry. In addition to playing football at SVSU, he has plans to study psychiatry.
When asked what advice they would give to other up-coming athletes, Parker said to give 100-percent. Colin said to work hard every day to be prepared. Brett said to work hard in the weight room as well as on the field. Neil said to give each play all you have because you never know when your last play might be. Tyler said to take it slow because high school goes by so fast. Nate said to make sure you have fun while you are doing your best.
Coach Munger thanked the athletes for their contribution to the team, for their efforts as student athletes and offered them the best wishes for bright futures. To the parents of the six young men going on to the next level of their careers in football, he said, “Thank you for sharing your sons with us.”