Archers, crew, rugby represent district
by BETH ALTENA
Students from Rockford were well represented at this year’s Meijer State Games and during opening ceremonies at Fifth Third Ballpark, a blaze of Ram orange filled the stands. Archers from the Rockford Sportsman’s Club led the parade of athletes Friday, June 24 and teams from Rockford included rowing and rugby athletes. Olympic archer Glenn Meyers shot a blazing arrow across the ball field to ignite the cauldron after the special tip of his arrow was set alight from the torch.
The second annual Olympic-style games for the first time included archery competition, which took place Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Rockford High School.
Begun last year in Michigan as a way to stimulate economic growth, this year’s event is estimated to have brought more than a million dollars in spending. According to Hank Meijer, CEO for the company that is the major sponsor for the state games, Michigan’s is the fastest-growing state games in the nation, with 24 different games and venues across the state.
The West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) is responsible for the annual event, which had over 5,000 athletes of all ages competing in events from wrestling to pickleball. Competition is completed by 2 p.m. at each venue so visitors have the opportunity to visit the town or city which is the host. In addition to Rockford High School, Cannonsburg Ski Area and The Score Restaurant & Sports Bar held events—mountain biking and sand volleyball, respectively.
“This is an opportunity for athletes, young and not so young, to set goals,” said Meijer. “I wish all athletes a great weekend of accomplishment, competition and fun.”
Wayman Britt, WMSC vice chair, introduced a cast of speakers including Michigan’s Luietenant Governor Brian Calley and Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo and football coach Mark Dantonio.
“The state games are a signature event of the West Michigan Sports Commission,” Britt said. He said the games encourage economic development and quality of life.
The archery tournaments were organized by Rockford’s Jeff DeRegnaucourt and will be held in Rockford each year. DeRegnaucourt said all visitors, both athletes and fans, were provided a packet of coupons and information from Rockford merchants. The home of the state’s only Junior Olympic Archery Development program, Rockford was the obvious place for the archery tournaments to be held, he stated.
“Archery is a sport for all ages and abilities. It is one of the oldest Olympic sports and is considered the newest emerging sport at the collegiate level,” DeRegnaucourt said. “As Michigan is the largest bow hunting state in the U.S., it is not surprising that target archery tournaments are so popular here in West Michigan. Being able to join forces with the West Michigan Sports Commission and Meijer State Games of Michigan is the perfect way to showcase our sport to the general public.”
Mike Gusweiler, the director of the WMSC, has visited Rockford on several occasions to discuss how his organization is actively in the process of bringing a premier sports facility to property off Ten Mile Road. Established in 2007, the WMSC has worked with more than 140 events that have brought over 160,000 people into the West Michigan community and generated an economic impact of more than $40 million from visitor spending.