by RANDY GREGORY
Ryan Majerle left Rockford two years ago headed for the University of Toledo and Division 1 basketball with the Rockets. His stay there was brief but successful. But less than halfway into the season Majerle made a stunning decision. He would transfer to another school and give up his dream of playing NCAA Division 1 basketball for something far more important. A chance to be happy and get away from what was rapidly becoming a nightmare at Toledo while being far closer to his ailing father and growing to once again love the game he had devoted his life to at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Allendale.
“Toledo was just a bad place for me at that time,’ said Majerle. “I dreaded every day and couldn’t be happier with my decision to transfer to Grand Valley. I love being a Laker and this is the perfect situation for me. And to be able to be closer to my dad (former Rockford coaching legend Steve) and see him being able to return to coaching at Christian is just the icing on the cake. Parkinson’s disease took a big toll on him but to have the chance to watch him do what he loves doing on a regular basis is unbelievable.”
Majerle averaged 7.5 points a game for a 19-9 GVSU team that featured no less than 11 players who averaged double digits in minutes a game. He also shot a resounding 46% from the three-point line while giving up less than one turnover a game. Majerle said the transition to the Division 2 level has been smooth and the level of play is nearly the same.
“It was an easy process coming here to play,’ said Majerle. “I have great teammates and a lot of them had Division 1 offers and some even played at the top level. We see that at a lot of the schools we play against and it just goes to show how small the differential is in talent from one division to the next. We got upset in our league tournament and didn’t make it to nationals, but we return a ton of minutes and a lot of talent so the future is very bright here.”
After a storied high school career at Rockford that saw Majerle garner multiple All-Conference and All-State honors while leading the Rams to a series of lengthy tourney runs Grand Valley seems like home for many reasons beside the proximity to his folks.
“My sister Jessica lives four doors down from me in Laker Village,” said Majerle. “She plays on the volleyball team here and being so near to her has really helped us to grow a lot closer. We have even had the same class recently with the same professor and have studied and crammed for statistics together.”
Sometimes the thrill of the chase blinds people to the things that are truly most important to them. Majerle has found that and more in his short time at GVSU. We should all be so lucky.