By John Raffel Amateur baseball at its finest is in the final weeks of action for its summer schedule. But the Art Van Sports Complex will continue to be the site of some of the state’s best amateur baseball even through the fall months. Chad Kryska is the director of the Grand Rapids Amateur Baseball League. “We’ve been in existence for quite some time,” he said. “It’s a bunch of travel baseball teams we put together. This is our first year we’ve played at Art Van (Sports complex).” Ages of players have been from 9 to 16. The 11 to 16-year-old divisions have been at Art Van. There’s over 60 teams in the league. Games are played during the summer season Monday through Thursday starting in April. Kryska said five to six fields are used each game day. “We’re looking to expand next year and use more,” he said. “We had played before in Grand Rapids at different fields.” Art Van has “work out well so far,” he said. “We have some teams in the Rockford area. Most are in the Grand Rapids, Lakeshore area, the surrounding Grand Rapids area, for sure.” The league started at Art Van on April 20 and ends this week. “We haven’t had any standings or anything like that,” he said. A fall league starts up Aug. 23 at Art Van Sports Complex.
“The Diamonds Rams 13U baseball team won the championship of the 13U division of the Thornapple Valley Baseball Travel Tournament on July 12 in Ada, Michigan. The team was a hard-fought 5-0 in tournament play. The Rams also won the championship at the BPA, “The Ketchum”, Baseball Tournament on May 3, played in Marshall, Michigan.”
The Rockford Little League 12 U Baseball All Star Team recently took home their 3rd District 9 Championship in a row. The team remained undefeated in District play by defeating Byron Township 11 – 6 for the 2015 District 9 Title on Saturday July 18th. This group of All Stars also won the District 9 Championship in 2014 and 2013. The Rockford 12U All Star baseball team advances to the State Tournament held in Harper Woods, MI. State pool play begins Saturday, July 25th. Teams that advance beyond pool play enter State Final rounds which begin on Tuesday, July 28th. The tournament concludes with the 12 U Baseball All Star State of Michigan Champion being crowned after the game on Thursday July 30th. All eyes will be on Rockford at Harper Woods as they return to the State Tournament defending their 2014 State Championship Title. Rockford 12 U Baseball All Star players are: Caden Currie, Owen DeVries, Caleb Engelsman, Ryan Frommeyer, Adam Goushaw, Nate Herblet, Sam Krist, Luke McLean, Jackson Moseley, Ethan Nash, Brendan Scheuller, Nicholas Silverman, and Isaac Toole. The team is managed by Josh Scheuller along with coaches Dan McLean and Michael Herbleet.
By John Raffel Art Van Sports Complex drew around 50 baseball players at “Summer Classic” baseball skills camp Tuesday and Wednesday, July 14-15. Age divisions were 6-to-9 and 10-to-14. The camp provided youngsters with a baseball skill and drill instruction in a very fun and creative way. The two-day event was themed around the Major League Baseball all-star game. Instructors featured some of the area’s current or former college baseball players/coaches with wide baseball experience. It was originally intended to be a Monday-Tuesday camp. But a rainout on Monday forced it to be rescheduled. Jeff Vanhuis a representative with Baseball Concepts of Zeeland, which conducted the camp, said his company began running youth baseball camps 2009. “We run around 10 camps a year, spread out every five to six weeks,” he said. “It’s really geared toward the kids in the age range to 6-to-9 and 10-13. We provide really high quality baseball at an affordable rate for kids and families. We’ve done that by utilizing a lot of the local universities and colleges with good, talented instructors.” Both sessions went for three hours. “In the younger age groups, we emphasized the hitting stations and the very basics like how to stand and hit a ball from the tee,” Vanhuis said, “and how to position yourself, your hands, your weight transfers, and do it in a simplify fashion for the young kids.” For the younger players in an outfield station, a tennis ball type of object was used to avoid any type of accidents. “For our older age group, we pulled in some fairly advanced hitting and pitching drills that are there for them to use,” Vanhuis said. “Even the younger kids got a taste of that.” There were about 50 at the entire camp. “It was super organized,” Vanhuis said. “The vast majority were from the Grand Rapids region. We had some as far as St. Joseph.” Vanhuis is hoping to run a couple of camps at Art Van next season, perhaps including one in the spring. “July proved to be a decent time of year to run a camp,” Vanhuis said. “We’re able to have as many as 100 to 125 kids.”
The Rockford football coaching staff has always provided a great experience to the multitude of youngsters that have annually taken part in the FUNdamental Youth Football Clinic and this year will be no exception. Well over 200 third through sixth graders have already signed up and there is still time to register for the event which will be held Monday, July 27th through Thursday, July 30th. The clinic will run daily from 9:00 A.M. to 12:30 A.M. and will group third and fourth graders together and fifth and sixth graders as a unit as well. The entire Rockford coaching staff at every level from 78ers to Head Varsity Coach Ralph Munger will run the festivities along with members of the 2015 varsity team. There will be special contests featuring speed, accuracy and technique all week long. Drill work will emphasize every facet of football including ball security, blocking punts, proper footwork and other aspects. Techniques covered will include proper stance and starts, pulling, blocking and tackling and many other necessities to a game that emphasizes individual and team responsibilities on every play. Late registration will be accepted by mailing a $70 dollar check to Coach Ralph Munger 2857 12 Mile Road Rockford, MI 49341. Please make the checks payable to “Rockford football”. Registration will be at the Plaza area of Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium at Rockford High School on the opening day of the clinic (July 27th). Coach Munger can be contacted at 866-7797 (H) or 204-1857 (C) if you have any further questions. This is a non-contact clinic so no football equipment is to be worn by participants. You may access a copy of the form for the clinic by going to the football web site at Rockfordfootball.com and clicking on summer camps and going to the youth football clinic prompt.