by JACKIE HOLLAND-DECKER The Rockford girls varsity soccer team began its season with the same opponent with which it ended the 2008 season. The results were the same as well. However, the Rams are a very different team from a year ago. The Rams lost 2-1 in the regional opener last spring to Okemos, and on Friday, they lost 2-1 again against the visiting Chiefs. But a lot has happened to the Rams since last spring. For starters, the girls are under the tutelage of a new coach. Amira Ponne, the junior varsity mentor the past three seasons, took the reigns from former coach and Rockford player Heidi Greenland for the 2009 campaign. Greenland, a teacher at Rockford High School, led her team to two regional berths in the last three seasons. She stepped down to spend more time with her sons. Ponne, a Spanish teacher at Rockford Freshman Center, has seven years of coaching experience and was a four-year player at Aquinas College. She was not disappointed by her team’s loss Friday night, their first game after just four practices. The Chiefs scored both goals in the first five minutes of the game off incredible shots by junior standouts Chelsea Miller and Kelsey Mullen. The Rams upped their defense the second half and never gave the Chiefs much of a chance to score again. “We did a great job,” said Ponne in her reaction to the team’s loss to Okemos. “In the second half we outplayed them. Their coach told me that he wasn’t sure what I had said at halftime but ‘Wow!’” The Rams got on the scoreboard five minutes into the second half when sophomore Sydney Benda scored off a Matti Graves pass in front of the net. Benda’s shot went high into the left-hand corner, beyond the reach of the Chiefs’ goalkeeper Sarah Banks. Besides having a new coach this season, the Rams also have nine new players. With just 11 returners from last year’s 12-5-4 squad, the team is still trying to figure out where everyone fits. Less than 12 hours after the loss to the Chiefs, the Rams took the field against Battle Creek Lakeview at a tournament at Grand Valley State University. The squad lost the 10 a.m. […]
Rockford High School Athletic Department recently announced retirement and coaching changes of four high school sports. After 35 years as head varsity coach of the Rams wrestling team, Don Rinehart has announced that he will retire at the end of the current season. Coach Rinehart’s accomplishments include 11 OK Red conference team championships, 14 district team titles, 10 regional team titles, and the 2007 Division I state MHSAA team championship. Rinehart has also coached numerous individual state champions, and has also coached baseball, softball and football in Rockford Public Schools. Amira Ponne has been named the head girls soccer coach. Ponne has coached at the junior varsity level for the past three seasons and teaches at the Rockford Freshman Center. She replaces Heidi Greenland, who retired to spend more time with her family. Tim Jacobs and Greg Hobart have been named to lead the varsity men’s and women’s crew teams. Jacobs is a teacher at the Rockford Freshman Center. Hobart is a long-time assistant coach in wrestling. Andrew Martin has been named the head boys track coach. He is also the men’s cross country coach and has served as a track assistant the past several years. Martin teaches in the social studies department at Rockford High School. Last year’s head coach, Brent Cummings, will remain with the staff as an assistant coach.