Black Dog Outfitter staff has hands-on experience in outdoor recreation by BETH ALTENA “Just think about it. We get to go to work and talk about hunting and fishing all day long,” said Ryan Wheeler, co-owner of Black Dog Outfitter (BDO), a sporting goods store at 4444 14 Mile Road. Wheeler, a life-long Rockford resident, along with Tom Hackbardt, are thrilled with the new location of their shop, and consider Rockford an area rich with hunting and fishing opportunities as well as many men and women, who, like them, love everything outdoors and all the things and people associated with it. “Tom and I always saw the potential for a sporting goods store in Rockford, so we teamed up and went for it,” Wheeler stated. Both are confident that any sportsman or woman will be thrilled with the variety of gear and breadth of experience of the staff at BDO. “We enjoy nothing more than helping someone when they are trying to get into something new, whether it be a bow, rod or just some bait,” Wheeler said. An experienced guide, Wheeler was first in business for himself in traditional archery and brings a lifetime of lake and river fishing to the company. In addition to Wheeler and Hackbardt, staff includes Jim Hackbardt and Brandy Brunette. Each brings a different expertise. Ryan Hackbardt is an avid bow hunter, but has the most experience with duck hunting and fly fishing. He is also well versed in arms and ammunition. Jim and Brandy both bow hunt, fly fish and lake fish nearly obsessively. They are also experienced bow techs. Visitors to BDO will appreciate the tremendous diversity the team offers. “We can help you find the right fly, line, rod, choke tube, shot, duck call… whatever it may be,” said Wheeler. Wheeler describes his store as clean and organized and his staff as very friendly. Supplies include it all: guns, ammo, archery gear, compound archery supplies, hunting and fishing gear, duck-hunting and fly-fishing equipment, techno hunt gear, bait and an indoor archery range. The business is named after Wheeler’s black lab West, in honor of Wheeler’s background as a duck-hunting guide. With the partnership with Hackbardt, Wheeler believed the time was right to expand his guiding into […]
June 16 2011
After two hot weeks of removing sod one shovel at a time, spreading nine yards of mulch, and planting approximately 200 native species of plants, the East Rockford Middle School Earth Keepers (EK) students have a completed garden. For the two weeks the EK students have been diligently removing sod from an area on the west side of the building near the entrance. “We only hit and broke through one irrigation pipe. Good thing the owner of Splash has his daughter in our room!” said teacher Barb Altizer. The garden, along with the making of 13 rain barrels, is the culminating activity for the students after learning about storm water, watersheds and the importance of using native plants in landscapes and gardens. After spreading nine yards of mulch on the last day of school, the kids were able to begin planting the native plants provided by Nate Haan from Calvin College. “We also had help from our ‘community partners’ Mike Bruggink of Fenview Landscape Design and Amy Heilman of River City Wild Ones. In the future we hope to split plants and collect seeds to share and plant another garden,” Altizar stated. Funding for this project was provided through a grant from GROUNDSWELL, an organization that promotes service learning and place-based education. “We are very proud of our Earth Keepers kids,” said Altizer. “They worked very hard. According to our partners, some of the plants will grow to be chest high by the fall. We can’t wait!”
Rams defeat Hudsonville and Forest Hills Central Rockford’s varsity baseball team did something that is difficult to do against any team, much less one of the best in the state. The Rams beat Hudsonville for a third time this season in the regional semifinal game. Two of the three games between the Rams and the Eagles were decided by one run and this one went extra innings. Rockford came out on top 6-5 in nine innings by out-hitting the Eagles 11-8 and getting solid pitching performances from fellow lefties, Joe Kropiewnicki and Austin Stephens. Hudsonville drew first blood, offensively, as they scored two runs in the top of the second inning. The Rams answered in the bottom of the second when Christian Leinesch singled, Brent Showers walked, Matt Boonstra singled and Ian Stankus hit a sacrifice fly. Both teams were scoreless in the third and fourth innings. The Eagles plated two more runs in the top of the fifth. Rockford didn’t score in its half of the fifth and was down 4-2. Hudsonville didn’t score in the sixth, but Rockford scored three to take the lead when Showers, Boonstra and Andrew Rademacher singled, and Drew Farmer followed with a double. At the end of six, Rockford led 5-4. The Eagles scored one to tie the game in the top of the seventh. The Rams didn’t score in the bottom of the seventh, and Hudsonville was held scoreless in the eighth and ninth. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Rockford’s Brandon Nostrant singled and reached second on a wild pitch. That was followed by a Shain Showers single and a walk-off double by Tony DiLeo to win the game. DiLeo was injured and couldn’t play in last week’s district competition, but really came through for the Rams upon his return. Rockford was led by Nostrant (2-4, 2B), Boonstra (2-2), Farmer (2-5, 2B, two RBI), S. Showers (1-4), DiLeo (1-5, 2B, one RBI, Leinesch (1-4), B. Showers (1-2) and Rademacher (1-4, one RBI). Defensively, Kropiewnicki got the start and battled a potent Eagle offense the whole way. “Krop” didn’t have his best stuff, but he kept the Rams in contention and was lifted from the game in the top of the seventh inning. He went 6-2/3 […]
Rockford graduate Kennen Less has joined the ranks of the Aquinas College Academic All American for spring sports. The criterion to earn this honor for juniors or seniors is to have a 3.5 or higher grade-point average while participating in a college sport. Less is on the Saints’ men’s baseball team. Congratulations on earning this amazing achievement.
Postseason awards for the Rockford girls lacrosse team have been piling up as fast as their victories have on the field. Senior Alyssa Neumen became the second Ram to earn recognition from U.S. Lacrosse for her play, being named as a Regional Honorable Mention All American. Only nine players from Michigan received this prestigious honor and Neumen joins East Grand Rapids’ Lauren Hooker on the squad. Neumen also earned First Team All Conference and First Team All State honors in her senior season. Joining Neumen on the All Conference and All State First Team is her sister, Erica Neumen. Erica leads the Rams in goals, and caused turnovers this season as a sophomore. Senior Taylor Balch, the second leading scorer on the team, also earned All Conference Honorable Mention in her final season as a Ram. Rockford’s girls really exemplify the student in student athlete as the entire team earned Academic All State status for their team effort in the classroom and on the field. Individually, juniors Carly Dew, Hannah Maroe and Jenna Chaffee earned Academic All State honors. Coaches Mike Emery and Jeff Neerken stated, “We are extremely proud of our entire team and their effort on the field and in the classroom. These young ladies are a great representation of the excellence of the partnership of our Rockford school, parent support and student body.”