by CINDY M. CRANMER Rockford water polo was well represented with its number of teams and their finishes at the Meijer State Games recently. More than 5,000 West Michigan athletes competed in events including archery, 3-D archery, basketball, BMX biking, bowling, boxing, cricket, cycling, disc golf, fencing, figure skating, golf, a fun run, hockey, judo, karate, lacrosse, mountain biking, pickleball, racquetball, rowing, rugby, skateboarding, various gun-shooting sports, softball, swimming, tae kwon do, track and field, volleyball, wakeboard, water polo and wrestling. The water polo event included three Rockford area teams in its first year at the games. The first Meijer State Games took place in 2010. Thousands of spectators now come out to watch the Parade of Athletes, the opening ceremonies and live entertainment and sports. The games opened on Friday, June 22 with Olympic-style competitions held at venues throughout West Michigan including Rockford, Sparta, East Grand Rapids and the entire greater Grand Rapids area. The Meijer State Games are modeled after the Olympics and have the philosophy of encouraging participation, good sportsmanship and healthy living. Coach Dave McWatters tries to stress these values, among other things, to Rockford’s water polo teams. McWatters said some area high schools sent players to Rockford’s team to be part of a unifying experience and to play. “It’s really a combination of many other sports played in the water,” McWatters said of water polo. He said the sport has elements of soccer, lacrosse, basketball, hockey and swimming. Each team has a goalie and six field players, who all swim throughout the game played in a deep pool, and try to score on the other goal. Players can only use one hand to field the ball or pass other than the goalie. McWatters said it’s an honor that water polo was chosen as one of the 30-plus sports now being played at the Meijer State Games. East Grand Rapids was the location for water polo games. Rockford put together two teams of current students, who were primarily from Rockford, and a team of students who graduated this year. The teams finished in second, third and sixth places out of about eight or “We tried to get as many kids involved as possible including kids from other schools,” McWatters said. Helping […]
July 12 2012
Rockford Little League has many teams with hundreds of players competing at levels from t-ball to seniors. Volunteer coaches and the leaders of Rockford Little League donate endless hours to enable these players to grow in their skill and knowledge of the game, learn the concepts of sportsmanship, and to have fun along the way. Many players and teams excel each year. This year was no exception! Four teams did very well in the Majors division of the District 9 tournament. Coach Kevin Freeman’s team finished second in Class B, Coach Jason Rambo’s team finished second in Class J, and Coach Jim Stull’s team finished second in Class I. Another Majors team, coached by Scot Showers, finished their regular season with a 13-0 record followed by a 6-0 record to win the Class A District 9 tournament championship. Some observers say this may have been the first Rockford Little League team to win the Class A District 9 tournament championship. The tournament run included a game-saving catch, timely pitching and hitting. The championship game included two home runs including a grand slam, a circus catch in right field and very strong overall hitting and pitching to shut out Western Little League for the title. The team posted some pretty impressive numbers in regular season play, with 141 hits in the 13 games, and an overall batting average of .392. The pitchers had a combined ERA of just 1.89, while striking out seven out of every 10 batters they faced. The opposition only mustered a .143 batting average against the hurlers! In the District 9 tournament play, Rockford kept the bats moving with 44 hits in just six games, and a .389 team batting average. Pitchers, however, brought it up a notch with a combined ERA of .75, with opposing hitters struggling to a .135 combined batting average. The positive coaching style has made for a successful season and a fun learning experience for all the boys. They formed friendships that they will always remember.
Wednesday, June 27, the Greater Rockford Area Racing Series (GRARS) hosted its second of four events for the summer in a track and field meet at Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium. “We had between 65 and 70 competitors ranging from age 3 to 55 competing in events from the shot put to hurdles to the 5,000-meter run with a bunch of other events in between,” said Race Director Benjamin Watson. In total the event drew over 100 people. Some event winners from the day were 3-year-old Christopher Williams in the age 6 and under 55-meter hurdles with a time of 11.31, Bill Fix in the age 50-59 5,000-meter run with a time of 20:28, Troy Rock in the age 19-29 400-meter dash in 53.08, Rihana Pillow in the age 7-10 800-meter run in 2:51.52, Annalise Elliot in the age 6 and under Frisbee throw in 15’ 10”, and Terrance Love in the age 30-39 shot put in 33’ 5.75”. “We had a very good turnout in just our second event of the summer, and hopefully people will take advantage of what a wonderful family sport distance running and track and field can be over our two July events,” said Watson. GRARS is hosting a cross-country 5K at East Rockford Middle School on July 11 with registration starting at 4:45 and race time at 5:30 p.m. Another track and field meet is set for July 25 at the Ted with registration starting at 4:45, field events beginning at 5:30 and running at 6 p.m. Any questions can be answered at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by RANDY GREGORY This year’s University of Michigan Football Camp for high school players took place from June 17 to June 22. Rockford Coach Ralph Munger marked his 30th year as an instructor at the camp with this year’s appearance. But what pleased Munger even more was the maiden voyage of Rockford assistant David Lee as a member of the coaching fraternity who instruct thousands of players from around the country at the elite camp. “I was really tickled for Coach [David] Lee,” said Munger. “He is an outstanding young coach and I know this was something he had been looking forward to. He has so much enthusiasm and I know he imparted that and his knowledge of the game to the kids who were fortunate enough to work with him.” Munger spent his time at the camp teaching what he has been widely renowned for over the course of his storied career: the offensive line. While he has worked with other position groups over the years, Munger usually finds his way back to the position he has always been noted for. But the position group is not he most important thing to Munger; it is the experience the campers have. “We place a heavy emphasis on teaching technique to the players,” said Munger. “We want the young men to be better football players when they leave there and have a better understanding of their position. We use the same drills and teaching techniques that the University of Michigan uses with their team. But we also want to do it in an atmosphere that is conducive to being a positive experience for everyone involved.” Included amongst the campers was a healthy contingent of Rockford players. Munger was pleased that 11 Rams took part and hoped that their football acumen had improved as much as their enthusiasm indicated they enjoyed the camp. “I can’t even begin to remember all 11 of their names, so I won’t mention any of them,” said Munger. “It is always great to see some Rams there, and it is nice as well when other coaches tell me how impressed they were with their attentiveness, technique and love of the game.”
by RANDY GREGORY Rockford football Coach Ralph Munger isn’t quite sure how many years it has been going on and isn’t quite sure about everyone who has participated as an instructor over the last several years in the annual Rockford Quarterback Technique Clinic. But the one thing he does know is that the event is drawing from a larger area every year. This year’s camp had no fewer than 29 participants ranging from seventh- to 12th-graders who attend schools as diverse as South Christian, Byron Center, Belding and Fremont (as well as Rockford). “This camp was started by Matt McCarthy and it has grown annually,” said Munger. “Matt was the offensive coordinator at Ferris State [University] and has worked at several other schools. He brought a wealth of knowledge and we have just taken the ball and run with it. We stress technique and practice drill after drill as well as bringing in receivers over the course of the camp. This year went extremely well, and it was great to see a lot of former Rams coming back to help the younger kids who want to become better quarterbacks.” Among the former Ram quarterbacks who were part of the staff this year were Joe Schwander, Steve Fusee, Robert Banaszak, Tim McGee and Mark LaPrairie. The event began on Monday, June 25 and concluded on Wednesday, June 27. “When you are fortunate enough to experience the success we have over the last fifteen or twenty years, it is not uncommon for other teams to want to see what you are doing and see if it will benefit them in the long run,” said Munger. “It isn’t always that you are given the chance to impart the things that you have learned over the course of your career to so many eager young men. They were all a pleasure to work with and we look forward to doing it again next year.”