Les David - 1992 DSA
BORN: AUGUST 31, 1908, BITELY, MI
DIED: NOVEMBER 9, 1988, MUSKEGON,
Baseball" to local residents, Les David's involvement with the
national pastime in Muskegon covered a span of more than 60 seasons.
A major league scout for 47 years, he worked for the Chicago White
Sox, Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers, and Cincinnati Reds.
David also served as president of the United Baseball League from
1966 until his death in 1988.
David was the originator and driving force behind the Marsh
Field Improvement Fund Tournament hosted annually in Muskegon.
Serving as caretaker of the city-owned baseball diamond at Peck
Street and Laketon Avenue, David poured time and money into the
site. Les not only kept the grounds in playable shape, but his
efforts were directly responsible for the electric scoreboard,
lighting system, modern restrooms, rebuilt dugouts, and aluminum
bleachers among other improvements to the facility.
At the age of 18, David first became involved in baseball in
Muskegon. A catcher and third baseman with a number of local
teams, he officially hung up the cleats in 1935. Over a span
of 50 years behind the bench, David managed the Muskegon Pepsi's,
the Muskegon Civics, and the Muskegon Zephyrs of the United Baseball
League, among others. His greatest coaching triumph came in
August of 1967 when the Pepsi's defeated the Grand Rapids Sullivans
for the state National Baseball Congress title, and the right to
represent Michigan in the NBC nationals at Wichita, Kansas.
In 1979, he was honored locally for his years of
service to baseball in Greater Muskegon. One year later, David
was one of six baseball boosters from Michigan and Ohio honored
before an exhibition game at Tiger Stadium for his contributions to
Ray Cioe - 1993 DSA
BORN: JULY 18, 1913, CHICAGO IL
DIED: FEBRUARY 14, 1993, MUSKEGON, MI
A 1932 graduate of Muskegon High
School, Cioe served Muskegon Catholic Central for over 25 years as a
teacher, coach, athletic director and business manager. He
received his start in coaching as a volunteer assistant football
coach at Muskegon Central Junior High in 1933. In 1950 he
joined the staff of St. Jean's High School as an assistant
basketball coach. With the merger of the area's three Catholic
schools into Muskegon Catholic Central in 1953, Cioe was put in
charge of the junior high school athletic program. In 1954, he
served MCC as a study hall supervisor, and handled the Crusader
frosh football squad.
Presented with the opportunity to teach, he returned to
school in 1956, taking extension courses at Muskegon Community
College and Aquinas College. He received a Bachelor of Arts
degree from Western Michigan University in 1966 at the age of 52.
Cioe retired from MCC in 1979, but his ties to the school
remained strong. "Catholic Central is what he talked about all
the time," noted his sister Teresa Cioe, "and that's where he went
every day." In 1986, the school showed its appreciation with the
formal dedication of the school's gymnasium in his name.
Yet Cioe's volunteer work was not strictly limited to
Catholic Central. A devoted fan of baseball, for years he
managed teams in the Greater Muskegon Little League, American
Legion, and Connie Mack circuits. In 1989, he was honored for
35 years of service as a volunteer worker at city track meets.
In 1993, he was honored with posthumous induction into the Michigan
High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Nelson Volz - 1994 DSA
BORN: JUNE 4, 1912, TOLEDO, OH
DIED: AUGUST 15, 1998, MUSKEGON, MI
A native of Toledo, Ohio, Nelson Volz has been active
in the local sports community since his arrival in Muskegon in 1937.
Best known as the public address announcer for Muskegon Big Reds,
Volz has served the area in a variety of ways. A baseball,
basketball and football official for 30 years, he was recognized by
the Michigan High School Athletic Association for his years of
Volz received his start in announcing in 1939, as a color man
for a local radio station. In 1941, he began a 38-year stint
as P.A. announcer for the Big Reds gridiron program. In
between, Volz handled the same duties for the Muskegon Lassies of
the old All-American Girls Baseball League. The team played
their home games at Marsh Field from 1946-1950. In later
years, he worked the microphone for Muskegon High School boys and
girls basketball games, and a number of prep contests at the L.C.
Walker Arena. In 1986, he was selected by the Michigan High
School Coaches Association to handle the P.A. duties at the
East-West All-Star game, played at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
A graduate of Western Michigan University, Volz taught
mathematics in the Muskegon Public Schools for 38 years before his
retirement in 1979. Since that time, he has been active member
of the community, assisting the elderly with their taxes and serving
on the Muskegon Elks scholarship committee. An avid bowler and
horseshoe pitcher, Volz has also worked on the design and promotion
of the Moose horseshoe court.
Charles W. Marsh - 1995 DSA
BORN: FEBRUARY 24, 1871, NUNDA, NY
DIED: JANUARY 1, 1943, MUSKEGON, MI
Arriving in Muskegon in 1900, Charles Marsh soon established himself
as one of the community's most successful businessmen and a
respected civic leader. In addition to his prominent role in
community affairs, he also made a significant personal contribution
to sports in Muskegon, specifically in the area of baseball and high
After Muskegon entered the Michigan State League in 1910,
Marsh immediately became one of the baseball team's most active
boosters. In 1912, he became president of the club and served
for two years. When the State League folded after 1914 and one
of the principal home fields, Castenholz Park, was dismantled and
converted to residential property, Marsh spearheaded a campaign to
build a new downtown ballpark.
Professional league baseball returned to Muskegon in 1916
with the grand opening of Marsh Field. In 1919, Marsh and his
associates generously deeded the new baseball park to the city of
Muskegon at its original cost. Marsh continued to provide
financial and moral support to keep Muskegon in professional
baseball and returned as president of the 1923-24 Michigan Ontario
As an influential and respected member of the Muskegon Board
of Education for the last 27 years of his life, Charles Marsh
continued to promote local sports programs in the school system.
He was instrumental in the campaign to construct the concrete stands
of Hackley Stadium, which opened in 1927.
Lyle Moran - 1996 DSA
BORN: MAY 21, 1913, TRAVERSE CITY, MI
DIED: JULY 23, 1986, MUSKEGON, MI
The late Lyle Moran devoted a lifetime to the encouragement and
development of youth sports programs in the Muskegon area.
Although his contribution was felt throughout the county, the people
of North Muskegon especially treasured his impact. Much of the
past sports traditions at North Muskegon High School were influenced
by the hard work and dedication of Moran at the younger age levels
of competitive sports.
It is fair to say that Lyle was the “Godfather” of youth
sports programs in the Greater Muskegon area. In the 1940's he
founded Little League football and in 1952 he co-founded the local
Little League baseball. Many area youngsters learned their
sports fundamentals under the guidance of Lyle Moran. Not just an
organizer, Moran was an expert coach who managed youth teams
throughout his adult life. Along with his dedication to
promoting and teaching youth sports, he often contributed personal
sums from his own modest income to help support the programs.
Another lesser-known contribution made by Lyle Moran to the
area's sports history was done through one of his hobbies - home
movies. With his own movie camera, he recorded numerous sports
events from the distant past. His surviving films offer a rare
window for us to relive games and other sports activities of earlier
After his death, the city of North Muskegon honored Lyle by
naming the city’s Little League Field in his honor.
John E. "Jake" Outwin - 1997 DSA
BORN: AUGUST 8, 1882, PORT JERVIS, NY
DIED: JUNE 3, 1954, MUSKEGON, MI
Jake Outwin was Muskegon’s “Grand Old Man” of
baseball at the time of his death in 1954. His contributions,
especially in later life, in giving local fans entertaining and
quality baseball at Marsh Field for many seasons cannot be
overlooked. Numerous legendary stars of the game, as well as
the “cream” of local talent were showcased for Muskegon fans during
the 1940’s when Mr. Outwin organized his own semi-professional teams
and later a class A level of fully professional baseball with the
Muskegon Clippers of the Central League.
Jake came to Muskegon around WWI and participated in local
factory leagues as player and manager for several years. He
later had a brief fling in the front office of Muskegon’s MINT
League club as secretary and business manager in the 1920’s.
When WWII put the Muskegon Reds of the Michigan State League on the
shelf, Outwin filled the void by assembling the best of local
players into a semi-pro team called the Outwin Zephyrs. From
1942 to 1947, the Zephyrs attracted an interesting variety of
first-rate opponents at Marsh Field, including visits by the Detroit
Tigers and the Chicago White Sox. Many of the great
Negro League teams made stops in Muskegon, as did the Great Lakes
Navy team, made up of big league stars serving their wartime
obligations in the military.
The post-war boom of minor league baseball gave rise to the
rebirth of the class A Central League in 1948. Mr. Outwin was
among the organizers of this new circuit and was instrumental in
gaining a franchise for Muskegon. Jake was president and
principal stockholder in the Muskegon Clippers, a Chicago White Sox
farm team. Many future major leaguers appeared at Marsh Field
during the Central League years. Thanks to the dedication of
Jake Outwin, Muskegon was on the baseball map once again in his
Elsa Lowe - 1998 DSA
BORN: MAY 2, 1925, VIENNA, AUSTRIA
An ice skating instructor at outdoor rinks and at the L.C. Walker
Arena since the 1950's, Lowe embodies the spirit of what the
Distinguished Service Award is all about. While she receives a
nominal fee for her time of teaching figure skating, she has
consistently taken on skaters free who cannot afford the classes,
while spending her own money, talents and time in an effort to
promote figure skating.
A native of Austria, where she became a professional skater
at a young age, Elsa toured Europe performing in ice shows. A
resident of Muskegon since 1948, she took over the L.C. Walker
Arena's skating program from Gil McKellen in 1962. Lowe's
dream was to produce national champion-type figure skaters from the
area and she pushed on toward that goal with a vengeance.
She staged shows at the Arena in which she personally did all
the sewing of the costumes for the 50-plus participants, in addition
to designing and building the props for the set. During the
1960's and early 70's, Elsa's annual shows would draw more than
2,000 fans to the arena. She continued this work tirelessly for 15
years, until ice time at the arena became so expensive that she
could no longer host shows there. Interest in skating peaked
during this era, as nearly 150 skaters enrolled in her classes
annually. Lowe continues to teach the sport she loves, and is
credited with instructing nearly 5,000 skaters during her long
career in the Port City.
Elsa is a member of the US Figure Skating Association and is
rated a Senior Professional with the Professional Skaters Guild of
America. While only one of Elsa's skaters became professional,
many were gold skaters (highest honor) at national amateur
competitions in Ohio. "I've always believed there would be a
champion coming out of Muskegon someday," said Lowe. I still
Jim Dodson - 1999 DSA
BORN: APRIL 13, 1927, MUSKEGON, MI
DIED: NOVEMBER 1, 1992, MUSKEGON, MI
Jim Dodson's technical job description at Muskegon Heights High
School was equipment manager - counting jerseys, taking care of the
balls and washing towels. But his real work went far beyond
that. Dodson made the Muskegon Heights Tigers look good on the
outside from 1966 until his death in 1992, but his real gift was the
ability to reach youngsters' minds, hearts and souls.
An all-state football player for the Heights in 1945, Dodson
was invited back to help out at his alma mater by Heights sports
legend, Ossie McCarty. For 25 years, Dodson's daily routine
for nine months of the year was the same - work eight hours
delivering mail, come home and eat dinner, change his clothes and
head to the high school.
'Dr. D.' as he was known to Tiger athletes was eventually
paid for his work of taping ankles, cleaning jerseys, fixing
lockers, sweeping dressing rooms, rubbing his special ointment on
sprains and sore muscles and anything else the coaches needed.
But he was never paid for his extensive counseling work. And
he never charged for his shirts, pants or jackets the he would give
to kids that desperately needed them.
The father of three children with his wife Helen, Dodson was
active in the U.S. Army Reserves for almost 40 years.
John "Smitty" Vanderplow - 2000 DSA
BORN: APRIL 29, 1908, MUSKEGON, MI
DIED: MAY 16, 1976, MUSKEGON, MI
Muskegon area sports teams and individual athletes enjoyed the
benefits of one of the city's most generous boosters in beverage
distributor Smitty Vanderplow during the mid-twentieth century.
Smitty, himself a football and basketball star at Muskegon High
School in the 1920's, was committed to the promotion of athletics in
his home town and gave generously of his own time and money to make
Muskegon proud of its sports programs and its heroes.
Among his considerable contributions were team sponsorships,
primarily for youth baseball and softball leagues and numerous
bowling teams in the area. Many, many local athletes
participated in their favorite team sports under the banner of "Smitty's
Beverage". Smitty was devoted to local sports and reached into
his own wallet on many occasions to accommodate requests for
sponsorship. He also took a personal interest in individual
athletes needing financial support to further their careers in
college by providing summer jobs at his distributorship.
When professional baseball returned to the city in 1948 with
the formation of the Muskegon Clippers of the Central League,
Vanderplow was one of the stockholders, along with the parent
Chicago White Sox. After two disappointing seasons, the White
Sox attempted to buy out local shareholders and dissolve the
franchise. Determined to keep baseball in Muskegon, Smitty
purchased the team and arranged a working agreement with the New
York Yankees and other Central League clubs to assemble quality
players to continue the Clippers operation another year.
Unfortunately, poor attendance here and throughout the league in
1950 forced Smitty to sell out in a sea of red ink, but he managed
to pay off all outstanding debts, many of them out of his own
In 1966, local sports enthusiasts toasted Vanderplow at a
special banquet. On this occasion, Smitty donated over $8,000
to the creation of a new athletic facility in Norton Shores, which
was named Vanderplow Field in his honor.
Michael Knight - 2001 DSA
BORN: SEPTEMBER 19, 1942, CHARLOTTE, NC
DIED: JULY 4, 1988, MUSKEGON, MI
Knight was not a
native of Muskegon. But few have championed her causes as Knight
has. He fell in love with the area shortly after moving here in the
1970s and immediately got involved with many civic projects on a
volunteer basis. He is credited with personally fighting through
miles of red tape to get a luge, cross-country ski trails, and an
ice-skating facility built on state park land in North Muskegon. The
facility, known as the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, has been
utilized by hundreds of thousands of people since it was
established in the late 1980s, averaging 25,000 participants a year.
The complex’s lodge is called the “Michael Knight Memorial Sports
Lodge,” in honor of Knight who died in 1988 at age 45 of heart
In addition to the Winter Sports Complex, Knight helped
establish the Amateur Athletic Union winter games in Muskegon, which
lured hundreds here for competition in everything from cross country
skiing to gymnastics, to karate. Those games even received national
TV exposure. Knight also established a biathlon near the state park
that was among the most competitive and well attended in the state.
Outside of the sports arena, Knight busily promoted Muskegon in
whatever capacity he could. He served as president of the Miss
Michigan Scholarship Pageant, was founder and executive director of
the Northside Summer Spectacular, served on the North Muskegon city
council and was executive director of the Muskegon Heights Festival
in the Park.
Bill Tilton -2002 DSA
BORN: MARCH 29, 1925, CANTON, OH
DIED: FEBRUARY 29, 2008, MUSKEGON, MI
Bill Tilton moved to the
Muskegon area from Terra Haute in 1964. An avid golfer, he won
38 golf tournaments during his days in Muskegon, but he is best
remembered for his work within the sport.
A retired engineer, Tilton spent much of his adult life
passing golf lessons on to hundreds of area junior golfers and to
the less fortunate.
Gathering unclaimed and demonstration clubs from area
courses, Tilton would put together free sets of clubs for those who
want to try the game.
many accomplishments, in 1967 Tilton developed the junior program at
Oak Ridge Golf Course, then known as the Pontaluna Country Club. He
started the county junior traveling golf program in 1971 and helped
run it for the next 19 years. Soon after, Tilton began the local
“Golfer of the Year” program and was the driving force behind the
tournament which is now known as the James Henderson Memorial Match
Play Championship. From 1989 to 1993, he coached the Muskegon
Community College golf team and he served as president of the
Greater Muskegon Golf Association in 1994.
Leo Campbell - 2003 DSA
BORN: APRIL 18, 1899, ANDERSON, IN
DIED: JUNE 7, 1983, MUSKEGON, MI
Leo Campbell, who taught physical education in Muskegon Public
Schools for 44 years,
helped thousands of kids learn the rules and the value of sports
long before they reached high school. Campbell never married.
Instead, he devoted his energy and free time to his students. A
native of Anderson, Indiana, Campbell lived in Muskegon for 65
years. He started teaching gym at Muskegon’s elementary schools in
1920 and didn’t retire until 1964 — working with Big Red greats from
Ike Kepford to Earl Morrall to Don Arnson and even future Ice
Follies stars Gil and Gordon McKellen.
His final gift to Muskegon’s youth came after his death. The
antiques in his home and shop were auctioned shortly after his
death, with the proceeds going to establish a fund with the Muskegon
County Community Foundation to benefit recreation sports and young
people. In 1990, money from that fund was given to the Muskegon Area
Special Olympics program.
Doctors - 2004 DSA
20 or more years of service
Times were when doctors with black bags full of stethoscopes, band
aids and ointments, stalked the sidelines at high school football
games. Times were when they volunteered their services to help
out the young athletes in their communities. They performed
team physicals, taped ankles, wrapped knees and checked out bumps
and bruises young football players would incur during practice and
on the playing field. There are few left now, replaced by
athletic trainers in the growing area of sports medicine. They
include eight who have given at least 20 years of service on the
sidelines. The distinguished service award honors these
individuals for so selflessly giving their time and talents back to
the schools in their communities.
father-and-son duo of Dr. Louis Beechnau and Dr. Tim
Beechnau at Ravenna kept Bulldogs going for more than 50 years.
Dr. Ed Fugate,
who retired in 1990, served Muskegon High School for 42 years.
an orthopedic surgeon who started manning the sidelines at Muskegon
Catholic Central in 1979, continues to serve today. Hamati has
not only treated, but has performed surgery on many a Crusader
Dr Ned Krohn
of Whitehall who began treating football players in the 1960s,
continued serving the Vikings for over 30 years.
In addition to
football, Dr. Robert Pierce of Fruitport made it a point to
be at girls and boys basketball games, and served the district for
over 25 years.
Dr. Larry Poel also made it a point to be at girls and boys
basketball games, served
Buccaneers for over 25 years.
Teifer served Muskegon football from the 1920s until 1952.
Ralph Burr - 2005
BORN: SEPTEMBER 28, 1936, MUSKEGON, MI
Most Little League baseball fields in the older parts
of towns do not look as beautifully manicured as Sheldon Park in
East Muskegon. Of course, most fields do not have an individual like
Ralph Burr to work on like a second front lawn. Burr has often
single-handedly maintained his own "field of dreams” for no pay
In 1999, Sheldon Park hosted the little League baseball
state tournament a true feather in Burr’s cap. Burr has also served
his hometown as the unpaid official scorekeeper of Muskegon
professional hockey games for the past 26 years and a
minimally-paid official and coach for high school and youth games
for the past 49 years.
Burr, a 1954 Muskegon High School graduate, worked as a
supervisor at Brunswick Corp. for 35 years. When he was not working,
he was serving others. Many Muskegonites still remember him as
‘Coach Burr,’ as he did quite a bit of youth football and baseball
coaching in the 1960s. Ralph and Kathy Burr have seven children, 11
grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Jerry Porter - 2006 DSA
BORN: SEPTEMBER 4, 1935, MUSKEGON, MI
DIED: OCTOBER 1, 2012, MUSKEGON, MI
almost 40 years, Jerry Porter was "Mr. Bowling" in Muskegon
County. Elected to the Greater Muskegon Bowling Association board of
directors in 1969, Porter worked his way up to GMBA president in
1979. In 1982, he became the organization's executive director, and
25 years later, remained on the job. He and his wife, Paulette,
who served a the assistant executive director of the GMBA, worked
thousands of hours running tournaments at bowling alleys all over
the state and even more hours compiling scores and awards at their
longtime home in Lakeside. Porter was one of the founders of the
Muskegon Bowling Hall of Fame in 1995 and was inducted into that
organization in 2000. He also served the sport of bowling on the
national level for 15 years, starting in 1990, as the only
Muskegon-area board member ever for the American Bowling Congress.
Well-known among area bowlers, Porter also was one of
the founders of the Greater Muskegon Golf Association in the 1960s.
Mark Jastrzembski - 2007 DSA
BORN: JUNE 7, 1949, MUSKEGON, MI
Jastrzembski has given more than 20 years of his time to many area
groups, particularly the West Michigan Speedskating club and the
Muskegon Winter Sports Complex. Fitting the job description of
the Distinguished Service Award to a 'T', Jastrzembski has almost
single-handedly run the speedskating organization for nearly 20
years, seldom missing a practice. The club has produced many
top skaters, including the organization's first national champion,
Grand Haven's Kelly Anderson, as well as Caledonia's Kimberly
Derrick, who competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics held in Italy.
Jastrzembski is also the founder of the Michigan Winter Triathlon,
and Muskegon's Wintersportsfest.
- 2008 DSA
BORN: SEPTEMBER 2, 1946, MUSKEGON, MI
Jack Crowell fell in love with
boxing while watching Pete Petroskey work Kenny Lane’s corner during
a 1963 title fight on a hot August afternoon in Saginaw. In a dozen
or so fights over the next decade, Crowell proved he could punch and
developed "a decent left hook." From the start, though, Crowell knew
his boxing legacy would be built outside the ring, not in it.
He began his coaching career in 1976. Working out of
his small Cloverville garage with kids from the neighborhood,
Crowell laid the groundwork for a local boxing renaissance that
blossomed in the mid 1980's. And it was Crowell who, along with
Lane, Petroskey and Terry Markowski, helped keep the Muskegon Area
Boxing Club going as it was kicked around town for almost three
decades before finding a permanent home in the Muskegon Recreation
Center at Smith-Ryerson Park on Jackson Hill.
Featuring a strong stable of successful fighters, the sport
returned to local glory. With bulging crowds filling local
auditoriums, Crowell moved his shows to the L.C. Walker Arena.
With his reputation as a trainer growing nationally, Crowell was
named a coach for the U.S. Golden Gloves team from 1980-82.
Crowell lives in Muskegon with his wife, Sandy. They have two
- 2009 DSA
BORN: SEPTEMBER 11, 1937, MUSKEGON, MI
45 years, kids’ smiles were Earl O’Brien’s only reward for the
endless hours he spent coaching, refereeing and organizing youth
sports leagues. For O’Brien, that was always more than enough.
"I didn’t do the things I’ve done my whole life
for an award," said O’Brien said, a 1955 Muskegon High School
graduate. "I did it for the kids."
Since he first coached the Bluffton Elementary
School softball team in 1964, O'Brien saw the profound effect team
sports can have in shaping a child’s attitudes.
In 1970, O’Brien took on his first big volunteer
challenge when he established the Tri-Cities Family YMCA’s Youth
Basketball League. The league he served as volunteer coordinator for
until 1993 now has more than 800 participants. One of O’Brien
proudest accomplishments is giving girls an opportunity to play in
A soccer and T-Ball coach and referee from 1970
until 1988, he remained a part-time soccer official until he turned
In 2005, O’Brien organized a fishing tournament
in Grand Haven to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. To date
the tournament has raised $104,000. Organizing this year’s
tournament is going to be real challenge, O’Brien says, due to the
poor economy, but he's not backing down.
- 2010 DSA
BORN: OCTOBER 27, 1933, LAPORTE, IN
Barney Sutherland, who taught social studies and coached at Reeths-Puffer
High School for 38 years before retiring in 2001, continues to work
at R-P as an event manager. Sutherland is truly a Rocket legend who
earned the Distinguished Service Award, presented annually to an
individual who has made a major contribution to sports in the area,
but not as an athlete.
Many longtime Reeths-Puffer sports fans can't remember
ever going to a home game and not seeing the jovial, white-haired
Sutherland working the event. He is also a giant in Laketon
Township's black community, starting a human relations club at R-P
in 1964, which brought students of different races together to talk
and work out problems.
"I sensed the need, which is why I started it,"
said Sutherland, who is still invited to the primarily-black Buel
Playground neighborhood gathering every summer.
Sutherland was a standout athlete in a graduating class of 26 at
New Buffalo High School, who went on to run track at Western
Michigan University, specializing in the long jump. Sutherland has
an amazing memory, recalling details about thousands of games and
star athletes and average kids who have gone through the Reeths-Puffer
Sutherland and his wife, Janet, combined to teach 71 years at
Reeths-Puffer. He has two daughters and three sons.
Jim "Red" Heeres
- 2011 DSA
BORN: MARCH 31, 1935, MUSKEGON, MI
never married and has no children, but he became a father figure of
sorts to thousands of Whitehall High School students through 48
years of service as a teacher and coach.
His sports background started in his
prep days at Western Michigan Christian High School, where he was
part of the school’s first graduating class in 1953 and played
basketball for Hall of Fame coach Elmer Walcott. In 1962, Heeres got
a teaching job at Whitehall. Heeres served as the Vikings’ athletic
director for one year and coached football for 22 years, basketball
for 10 years, baseball for 13 years.
He started the softball program at
Whitehall and led the program as head coach for 17 years. In 2005,
the district renamed their softball field in his honor. In the
summer, Heeres worked as the waterfront director at Camp Pendalouan
for eight years, then served for 30 years as the director of the
swimming school at White Lake Yacht Club. For ove 30 years he
led the Whitehall chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
But for many, Heeres greatest impact
came in the classroom where he taught the class for which he is best
known, Entitled "Self-Discovery" Heeres asked Whitehall seniors to
look inside themselves and evaluate who they are and what type of
person they want to become.
- 2012 DSA
BORN: MARCH 31, 1951, MUSKEGON, MI
Gawkowski has invested thousands of dollars and thousands of hours
to better the sport of baseball in the Muskegon area, most notably
refurbishing historic Marsh Field. A 1969 graduate of Muskegon
Catholic Central High School, he played football, basketball and
baseball and also ran track for the Crusaders, then played baseball
at Muskegon Community College.
After his playing days ended, he remained involved in
baseball as a coach, a board member for Roosevelt Park Youth
Athletics, Mona Shores baseball boosters and Lakeshore Baseball
Club. A "behind the scenes guy," he has worked to help the sport he
loves make a comeback in West Michigan.
In later years, he became
the owner of indoor training facilities, Line Drives and Extra
Innings. Through his involvement in the Lakeshore Baseball Club, he
has helped resurrect Marsh Field, a city-owned baseball park that
opened in 1916 and once served as the home to minor league baseball.
During the 1940's the park also served as home for the Muskegon
Lassies of the old All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
- 2013 DSA
BORN: MARCH 22, 1941, MUSKEGON, MI
of the most well-known and respected media personalities in Muskegon
area history, Moyes was the long-time owner of the Bear Lake Tavern
in North Muskegon, but is even better known for the trademark "Hello
sports fans" introduction he used throughout his 43 years as the
radio voice of local high school sports.
A 1959 graduate of North Muskegon High School, where his father had
served as head coach, Moyes played basketball and baseball for the
Norsemen, and worked as a stringer for the Muskegon Chronicle,
covering area sports during his high school days. He received his
start in broadcasting in Traverse City.
He returned to Muskegon in 1976. A self-proclaimed sports nut, the
one-of-a-kind Moyes spent most of his non-working hours contributing
to the betterment of sports in the area and beyond. He
co-founded the West Michigan Track Club, was the driving force
behind the restoration of the North Muskegon baseball field, the PA
announcer at city and conference track meets for 30 years, and has
served as emcee for numerous prep sports banquets. With a love for
research and learning, on a statewide level he assembled a history
of prep track and field in Michigan that dates back to 1898.
A member of the board of directors for the Muskegon Area Sports Hall
of Fame from 1988 until 2012, Moyes was also master of ceremonies
for the Hall of Fame's annual induction banquet for many years. As
with his radio broadcasts, his blend of humor and encyclopedia-like
knowledge on America's past times kept those "sports fans" entranced
and in stitches.
- 2014 DSA
BORN: FEBRUARY 20, 1958, ELGIN, IL
Cyndi Blair founded No More Sidelines in 2006, a program to provide
children and young adults with various special needs the opportunity
to participate on athletic teams and have opportunities afforded to
mainstream children. Blair, the mother of five children and the
Nursing and Medical Supervisor for Muskegon County Community Mental
Health, began the organization with seven children, including her
own daughter Alivia, who has cerebral palsy and autism.
While several organizations exist nationally that
advocate for special needs children, these organizations either
narrowly define their participants, or focus on medical research,
social service, and advocacy for special needs populations. Blair's
vision was for an organization dedicated to integrating children
with special needs into the community. The focus was on sports, and
on fun for all involved.
Today, No More
more than 300 local special needs children and their families in a
variety of activities, including 13 area high schools and four
colleges which participate in integrated clinics and games. For the
majority population of children, the opportunity to engage with
children with special needs increases their understanding and
tolerance for the many differences in people.
an former government office and warehouse, the
organization has renovated the space to provide for a plethora of
activities and jobs for those with special needs. The model has
expanded beyond the city limits and now includes programs in Grand Rapids, Holland and Lansing.
now fielded from advocates looking to
start No More Sidelines programs in other parts
of the country.
- 2015 DSA
BORN: NOVEMBER 4, 1941, HOLLAND, MI
DIED: SEPTEMBER 6, 2015, MUSKEGON, MI
Dick Topp helped put Muskegon-area golf on the state map in recent years, leading the charge to bring the prestigious Michigan Amateur championship to his beloved Muskegon Country Club in 2005 and 2013.
A Holland native and past president of the Golf Association of Michigan who still sits on the organization’s board, has also steered numerous other USGA and state-qualifying events to Muskegon. Topp, a member of White Lake Golf Club since 1969 and Muskegon Country Club since 1978, has also served as a rules official for the Golf Association
of Michigan and is the in-house historian for
the Muskegon club.
A resident of the Muskegon area since 1965
and a retired executive from Webb Chemical, he fell in love with the
game while working as a caddy in his youth in Holland. A
tireless promoter of junior golf, "Topper" as has was called by
friends, sent handwritten letters to
the top Muskegon-area finishers at the high school state golf finals
- 2016 DSA
BORN: , JUNE 11, 1946, MONROE, LA
Jerry Harris devoted almost 50 years of his life to Muskegon Heights
schools, and more accurately, the thousands of children who have
walked those halls in the past. He first came to Muskegon Heights in
1968 as a teacher but quickly became involved with the Tiger
athletic program, handling the ticket booth for football and
coaching basketball at the elementary school. By 1971, he had
become facilities manager for the high school. Scheduling games and
officials, and managing events became part of his routine for
the next 40-plus years.
Daily contact with students as a teacher,
administrator, and travel companion on the bus to away games, Harris
became a constant in the lives of many. Known as "Brother
Harris" by students, he served as a bridge to the past, as he
taught, coached and crossed paths with parents and grandparents of
the athletes. He retired from teaching in 2009, but remained with
the athletic program, serving as associate athletic director.
An active member of Sacred Heart Church in Muskegon
Heights, Harris was a charter member of the Muskegon Heights Jaycees
and the Knights of Columbus, serving the needs of his community. A
sponsor and contributor to the African-American Book Club at the
high school, he also has served the area as an active part of youth
football programs in Muskegon and North Ottawa County.