Nick Willison

Rockford men’s water polo fields 10 Academic All Americans

September 29, 2011 // 0 Comments

The Rockford men’s water polo team excels in the classroom as well as in the pool. Rockford Public Schools is honored to announce that 10 team members have been selected as Academic All Americans for the 2010-2011 school year. Dan Zang, Rockford High School principal, stated, “We are very proud of these fine young men and this very prestigious recognition. We wish them continued success in polo and so appreciate their commitment to excellence in the classroom.” To qualify for this honor, the selectees must have participated in a national water polo event. The Rockford Aquatic Club traveled to California this past summer to compete against teams from around the United States in the Water Polo Junior Olympics. Nominees must carry a minimum 3.6 GPA. Water polo coach Dave McWatters is very proud of the 10 students. “These young men represent the best of the Rockford student-athlete: succeeding in the classroom and in athletic competition. They are great role models for younger kids who want to accomplish great things both academically and athletically.” Gaining the honors are seniors Cody Brown, Eric Chisholm, Nick Dulak, Mac Finnie, Allyn Kinney and Alex Savage. Juniors honored are Mike Arend, Grant Beach, Corey Fase and Nick Willison. Further recognition goes to Arend, Beach, Dulak, Finnie, Kinney and Willison, who made “outstanding” recognition, which is carrying a GPA above 4.0. The water polo team has currently compiled a 19-1 record and is a model program in the state of Michigan. Superintendent of Rockford Public Schools Dr. Michael Shibler congratulates the team on their success and the 10 academic honorees. “The Rockford High School men’s water polo program is considered one of the most successful in the state of Michigan, if not the Midwest. This is because of our outstanding coaches, parent support, and our student-athletes, who excel in the classroom and in the pool. Without hesitation, I believe our men’s water polo program to be a ‘point of pride’ for the Rockford community.” Following are the plans of the senior recipients: • Cody Brown expects to attend Grand Rapids Community College for pre-med. • Eric Chisholm expects to attend Mercyhurst in Pennsylvania to study criminal justice. • Nick Dulak expects to attend Michigan Tech University to pursue engineering. • Mac […]

Rams place second at freshman/sophomore swim meet

February 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

Over 150 male swimmers from seven West Michigan area high schools competed at the annual freshman/sophomore meet in Grandville on Saturday, Feb. 5. Last year the Rams came out victorious with their first win in seven years. However, this year it was the Hudsonville Eagles that came out on top, with Rockford finishing in second place. Hudsonville placed first with 482 points, followed   by Rockford (379), Jenison (294), Grandville (252), East Kentwood (231), Grand Haven (222), and Holland West Ottawa (162). Despite the loss, the young Rams put forth a tremendous effort with numerous top-16 scoring finishes and several Rams swimming their fastest times of the season. The top 16 individual scorers for the Rams were: •            200-yard free: Mike Arend (second), Reese Patino (ninth), Dylan Dick (14th), Kurtis Loux (15th) •            200-yard IM: Trenton Babcock (first), Nick Willison (third), Corey Fase (10th) •            50-yard free: Chris Lemoine (12th) •            100-yard fly: Craig Wasberg (first), Corey Fase (10th), Jacob Davis (11th) •            100-yard free: Mike Arend (fourth), Justin Hulsebus (10th), Chris Lemoine (14th)   •            500-yard free: Stephan Cress (sixth), Kurtis Loux (ninth), Dylan Dick (12th) •            100-yard back: Craig Wasberg (first), Nick Willison (second), Stephan Cress (ninth), Justin Hulsebus (11th), Reese Patino (15th) •            100-yard breast: Trenton Babcock (second), Kyle Hams (sixth), Tyler Vanderhaag (15th)             Rockford placed second in all three relays: •            200-yard medley relay: Willison, Babcock, Wasberg, Davis (1:44.68) •            200-yard free relay: Lemoine, Davis, Hulsebus, Arend (1:40.89) •            400-yard free relay: Arend, Willison, Babcock, Wasberg (3:26.15) The Rockford divers, Noah Markel and Shane Phillips, finished in third and eighth places for the Rams, with a final score of 288.80 and 234.40 points respectively.   This week, many of these young Rams will join the Rockford juniors and seniors to face off in a dual meet against East Kentwood at the Falcons’ home pool on Thursday, Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m. Both teams still remain undefeated in the OK Red conference.    

Rockford water polo achieves academic success

November 11, 2010 // 0 Comments

As they prepare to defend their state water polo title on November 12, thirteen Rockford Rams took time out to receive Academic All State honors from the Michigan Water Polo Association (MWPA). Eight of the honorees are juniors: Cody Brown, Nick Dulak, Mac Finnie, Allyn Kinney, Alex Savage, Matt Vermeer, Josh Waldvogel and Bryan Wasberg. Five are sophomores: Mike Arend, Trenten Babcock, Grant Beach, Corey Fase, and Nick Willison. “We are proud of our student-athletes at Rockford High School,” said Athletic Director Tim Erickson. “Notice the word ‘student’ precedes the word ‘athlete.’ That is our philosophy: student first. Coach McWatters and the water polo team provide a perfect example of this philosophy.” MWPA Academic All State athletes must have a 3.75 cumulative grade-point average (GPA) after completing at least a full year of high school. All 13 boys meet that benchmark; several of them with a GPA higher than 4.0. “We are very proud of the student participation rate in our Rockford High School athletic program,” noted Principal Dan Zang. “More important than the scoreboard, conference standings, and pursuit of state championships, however, is our students’ performance in the classroom. We are fortunate to have student-athletes who truly understand that classroom performance is more important than what happens in the playing arena. Having our coaches appreciate and value this perspective is vitally important as well.” Coach Dave McWatters agreed, “Half of our team is Academic All State! This achievement represents our greatest hope for these young men: that their experience as part of Rockford water polo will enrich their lives long after they graduate. These young men and others are able to respond to the demands of the sport and also achieve academic excellence. That will serve them well for years to come.”

Rams claim 18th straight conference water polo title

October 21, 2010 // 0 Comments

Rockford defeated Grand Haven last Monday, Oct. 11, in an OK conference boys water polo match. The Rams are now a perfect 7-0 in the conference with one only more game to play. And, because undefeated Jenison was upset by Grandville last week, the Rams are guaranteed at least a share of the conference title. Rockford (31-6 overall) has now won or shared the title for an amazing 18 years in a row! To put that in perspective, the last time someone other than the Rams won the OK conference was 1992, the year a little-known Arkansas Governor named Bill Clinton was running for president against George H.W. Bush. Dave McWatters, now in his 13th year as head coach of the Rams, has built an impressive program that consistently produces strong teams. “We strive to be in the thick of things every year,” said McWatters. “Other teams seem to rise and fall based on a good class or two moving through. But we’ve tried to build a foundation that allows us to be competitive year in and year out.” The Grand Haven game illustrated McWatters’ point. The Buccaneers were regional champions last year, but have struggled to perform at the same level this year, having lost their top players to graduation. The Bucs came to town Monday night and were able to keep the game close in the first period, but the Rams’ depth and strength was simply too much for them. Rockford rolled to a 15-4 victory. The Rams’ balance was on display—seven different players scored goals, nine contributed assists, and 15 Rams combined for 32 steals. Junior Nathan Napolillo led the way with a tremendous all-around effort: five goals, two assists, and five steals. Rockford now hosts Jenison (6-1 in the conference) in the final regular season game of the year on Tuesday, Oct. 19. A Jenison win would give the Wildcats a share of the conference title. But a Rockford win would make the Rams the outright champs. “Jenison beat us in a tournament early in the year,” recalled junior Alex Savage. “Ever since then, we’ve been looking forward to facing them in our pool in this final game of the season.” According to McWatters, “Everything in recent weeks has been building […]

Rams take two water polo conference games

September 30, 2010 // 0 Comments

The Rockford boys water polo team hosted two conference foes last week, defeating each with an impressive display of team balance and depth. At the midway point of the season, the Rams’ record stands at 19-5 overall; 3-0 in the conference. Grandville came to town Monday, Sept. 20, hoping to defeat the Rams in conference play for the second straight year. The Bulldogs won a close game against Rockford last year, causing the two teams to split the conference crown. Rockford was ready for the Bulldogs this year, jumping to a 6-0 first-quarter lead, thanks to crisp ball movement and precise shooting. The Rams then battled Grandville goal-for-goal, cruising to 16-9 victory. Eight different Rockford players scored goals, led by senior Jeff Schmitt with four. Wednesday night, Sept. 22, brought the West Ottawa Panthers to the Rockford pool. Again Rockford sped to an early lead and never looked back, finishing with an 18-8 victory. Ten different Rams scored goals; sophomore Nick Willison was the leader with three. Aggressive defense captured 29 steals, including five by junior Alex Savage. In these two games, the Rams displayed an unselfish team-oriented approach to the game. Of the 34 goals scored, 25 were the result of assists. “We are a much better team than we were just two weeks ago,” observed Coach Dave McWatters. “There are many more challenges to go, but the pieces are coming together. Our individual athletes are figuring out how to lift one another’s quality of play. In other words, we are figuring out the elusive art of great team play.” “We get along well together as a team,” said Jared Martella, one of the team’s senior leaders. “There are no divisions between the different grade levels. We play well together no matter who’s in the pool, and we work to keep a positive attitude in the locker room.” Over the weekend, Rockford finished third at Zeeland’s Bird House Bash Invitational. Stout defense and balanced scoring produced big wins against Hudsonville (11-0), West Ottawa (13-0), and Zeeland (14-3). But Saturday morning the Rams lost a 6-5 overtime match to Birmingham Groves, the number four team in the state. Throughout the week, opposing teams had to contend with Rockford’s deep and talented bench. “Some teams depend […]