By John Raffel Warmer weather might mean more success in upcoming weeks for Rockford area fishermen. But like anything else, it depends on so many other factors. Chris Herman of the Riverbound Fly Fish Outfitters in Rockford said smallmouth bass fishing at the Rogue River should be productive. He added that various areas of the Rogue are doing good for trout. “Once the weather warms up and the trout slow down, you should check for smallmouth,” Herman said. “But it should be good right now. I pulled out a few smallmouth not that long ago.” Glen Blackwood of Great Lakes Fly Fishing Co. in Rockford said anglers are between hatches. “Fishing, morning at best, has been OK,” he said. “Caddis, nymph and streamer fishing continue to be the dominant way of catching trout in the system. Until the white mayfly shows up in another month to six weeks, depending on weather, we aren’t going to have much mayfly activity. The smallmouth fishing in the lower river below the Rockford Dam is picking up as fish move out of the Grand and into the lower Rogue.” Also in the west Michigan area, the DNR reports that in thee Grand River at Grand Rapids, water levels were down significantly. Flathead and channel catfish are still being caught on worms and bluegills, the DNR said, adding that carp fishing has slowed compared to the last few weeks. Anglers are getting walleye and smallmouth bass have been caught off the wall by those using live bait, the DNR said, adding that bluegills were caught in the backwaters. North of Rockford in Montcalm County, large pike 35 to 39 inches and some bass were caught on Big Whitefish Lake, the DNR said. Undersized walleye and trout are plentiful in the upper and lower portions near Hardy Dam and Croton Dam in the Muskegon River, the DNR reports.
By John Raffel It was virtually perfect baseball weather over the weekend for the United States Spectator Sports Association Global World Series at Art Van Sports Complex. The Michigan Bulls from Novi and the Rhinos from Northern Chicago battled for the Division B 13U title with the Bulldogs taking a 5-4 victory. The game ended the top of the seventh on a double play. “We had teams from Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and the east side of Michigan and a few local teams,” USSSA official Bob Wilkerson said. The Bulldogs were 6-1 for the weekend and have a 52-8 record this season. “The team we beat (in the finals) was very good,” Bulls coach Bobby Martin said. “It was our pitching and our defense. We struggled hitting this weekend which is odd for us. But our pitching and hitting picked us up.” The Bulldogs had solid pitching from Brandon Lowry, Bruce Alsobrooks and Jason Robson. “It’s an awesome tournament,” Martin said. “Hopefully it keeps growing. Bob does an awesome job running this tournament. Every time we come to a tournament they run, it’s fantastic. They do a great job. The facility is great. We’re looking forward to coming back again, probably next summer.” It was one of his team’s best weekends of the season, Martin said. “They performed and competed really well,” Martin said. “We expected to compete.” USSSA returns to Art Van on Labor Day weekend in September. “That will be an Elite All-American tryout on Sept. 4,” Wilkerson said. “Then we have a tournament, a fastpitch tournament, that weekend.”
by John Raffel Art Van Sports Complex will be hosting a “Summer Classic” baseball skills camp Monday and Tuesday, July 13-14. The cost of the camp, $70, includes a t-shirt and West Michigan Whitecaps ticket discount for the game that night. Ages are 6-to-9 and 10-to-14. The camp will provide youngsters with a baseball skill and drill instruction in a very fun and creative way. The two-day event is themed around the Major League Baseball all-star game. Instructors will feature some of the area’s current or former college baseball players/coaches with wide baseball experience. Also coming up are the Grand Rapids Summer Championships July 17-19, followed by the Game Day USA National Championships July 23-26. The Grand Rapids Summer championships are sponsored by Game Day USA and will feature 8U, 9U, 10U, 11U, 12U, 13U, 14U and 15U divisions. All teams are guaranteed at least three games. There will be pool play plus playoffs for a divisional champion.
By John Raffel It’s called the USSSA Global World Series and it’s coming this week to Art Van Sports Complex. The United States Speciality Sports Association will be sponsoring the event, which starts on Wednesday and will wrap up on Sunday. It’s an all-day event each day. “We have 18 teams from Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and Indiana in our 13U Open USSSA Global Sports World Series,” USSSA Michigan official Bob Wilkerson said. “Teams qualified during the regular season to participate in this prestigious event. All teams will play a minimum of six games Thursday to Sunday with champions and runner-ups crowned Sunday afternoon.” The 13U division is the only one playing at Art Van this weekend. The opening ceremonies were scheduled for Wednesday. Global Sports is a part of USSSA and tournament official points out that all ranking points picked up in a Global Sports Qualifier for World Series will count in the USSSA ranking. Any teams with the 13U classification in the Major, AAAA or AAA divisions are not in the World Series. Elite World Series teams, tournament officials state are ineligible to play. Teams participated in Global Sports Qualifying Tournament ahead of time. Teams that were in a Global Sports Qualifier were also eligible to partake. All teams were guaranteed six games for the tournament. The deadline was Sunday. There was to be a limit of 24 teams for the age group. Pool play will be featured the first couple of days, followed by championship action. Championship play was set for Red, White and Blue divisions for a modified elimination tournament. There were three divisional champs crowned as World Series champs and they will earn points with the USSSA’s ranking system.
By Todd Van Eck The 2015 Rockford Lady Rams Varsity Tennis Team put an exclamation point on their history-making season by receiving an official “Proclamation” from the Kent County Commissioners during the Cannon Township meeting on June 22, 2015. County Commissioner Diane Jones presented the award to Head Coach Tom Huizing and the team during the meeting. As best described by tennis parent Pete Elford, it was a ‘truly a great end to a truly great year’. The story of the 2015 Lady Rams Varstiy Tennis team starts with high hopes by Head Coach Thomas Huizing and Assistant Coach Aaron Linsley. Coach Huizing had been the varsity girls tennis coach for twelve years. He had seen great ladies throughout his tenure as coach, but this year seemed special. Assistant Coach Aaron Linsley had been with the team for three years and recognized that this team was special. Both had watched the team during the previous year and were very excited about this year. The feeling was justified during the first day of tryouts. The girls had worked hard during the off-season and looked strong. But, it was early, so both coaches were setting high goals with a reservation knowing how tough the Division 1 – OK Red Girl’s Tennis can get. The Lady Rams had previously won the Conference Championship (2009) and the Regional Championship (2012). They knew how difficult a season could be. Yet, the spark in their eyes would not dim, both could see promise that they had not seen previously. The season started with the Rockford Invitational. Rockford has hosted the Rockford Invitational for a number of years inviting the same teams each year. It is a good season opener with good competition. Although anticipated, the Lady Rams did not lose one match to win the Invitational in every flight. The season continued with great wins over very talented teams. They routinely celebrated success with wins, but there was more. The team was winning the close matches, the tie-breakers. The matches that could be won by either competitor were being won by the Lady Rams. It became a mathematical probability that the Lady Rams would step-up to the challenge of a close match and difficult team. There was something special about this […]