From Coach Jerome Smalley
This pandemic has given me, and I am sure all of us, a lot of time to contemplate what is really important. It has made me realize that I truly love my job. I miss my students sharing fist bumps in the hall. I miss them sharing what is important to them in their lives. I miss having intellectual discussions (yes, it does happen) in my World History classes. And I miss coaching and the memories that come along with coaching.
I recently met a former student-athlete of mine that I had coached in Davison, Michigan, who now teaches in Roscommon. I would tell you when I coached him, but it might give away my age. He reminded me of how I taught the team to shoot free throws; I am not sure how well they actually shot their free throws, but it was fun to reminisce about the times we had on the basketball court.
I have had people ask why I coach so much, and there are many reasons that I coach. I never coach for the money; I do appreciate the $2 per hour we coaches receive, but coaches receive a lot more than money. The greatest pay for coaching is the relationships we get to build with the fine student-athletes during the season. Over the years there have been so many wonderful people I have been able to coach, I could not even begin to thank them all. In just the past few years the Fran and Richard Seebeck clan has come through my soccer program and that has been amazing. Then there were the Boylen and Pellerito siblings who were a blessing to coach as well.
This year, like those of the past, has been filled with many amazing student-athletes. I believe this year there were over 20 seniors that I’ve had the pleasure of coaching. These outstanding student-athletes have been very successful in the classroom, on the court, and on the pitch. The amazing girls’ basketball team had the highest grade point average of any team in the entire state; now that is an amazing academic achievement. These girls truly exemplify what a student-athlete is. Not only were these girls amazing athletes and students but they are even better people. The joy they brought to every practice and game will always be in my memory and I will never forget them. On the boys side there were also many outstanding seniors. Jon, Allen, Kurt, Cobe, Christian, Eric and others extended our streak for boys soccer as they won at least 20 games in a season for the fifth straight year. That was an amazing accomplishment and they topped it off by winning the district championship. Again, hopefully these memories will last their entire lives.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has ended the spring season. I know the seniors feel that they were cheated, and in some ways I believe they were. But there is something I hope all of you seniors will remember: you have learned some amazing lessons that you will be able to take with you throughout your entire lives. High school sports is an amazing time in your life but you will have many more amazing accomplishments before you are done. I hope that you use these trying times to build character and blessings that you can use as you continue on your journey. Someday when you are married and are raising your own children you can use this experience to teach them lessons as well. Our parents used to tell us how difficult their lives were and how we have it so much easier, but the difficulties that you had to go through this spring make ours pale in comparison. I hope and pray that your children never have to endure the difficulties this pandemic has brought upon us.
So to this year’s spring seniors we can still dream of what could have been. Mara would have had a great dual season in both track and soccer. I’m sure she would have had a PR in the 800 and would have also dominated on the pitch at the center mid position. I know Maddie would have also had fun scoring many goals. Grace would have been happy to lead the lady G’s in softball dominating our league before she headed off to college to play softball. Dillon would have capped off an amazing year on the baseball field as he did on the wrestling mat as well. And all the seniors that I did not mention by name, would have accomplished a lot in their respective sport as well. Every one of you seniors will be missed but never forgotten.
In closing, I challenge all of you seniors to move on into the future and make the world a better place. Use these challenging times to improve yourself, to move forward, and help others. I would love to see all of you at your 10-year reunion, where we can look back at this year as an amazing time, and the spring of what could have been.
From Coach Troy Gary
Gladwin Varsity Baseball coach Troy Gary had six seniors this year on a team that seemed poised to make a run in the Jack Pine Conference.
Letter to Seniors:
Dillon Kroening: I have watched you mature from Junior High until what was supposed to be your senior year of baseball. Your growth and maturity is why I love coaching athletes and especially you. You have transformed before our eyes, you have grown into a considerate, responsible, and mature young adult. I am truly sorry and feel horrible that I did not get the opportunity to coach you in your last season. I know that you are going to go off to college next year where you are going to do well and compete well on the wrestling mat.
Erik Seebeck: I am going to miss seeing your face so frequently. I don’t think I have ever had a player who spent as much time with me during the offseason. You always had a way of making everything about the game fun. During the long winter months or the dog days of summer, you were always there and always enjoying every minute of being with your teammates. I have enjoyed, to no end, watching you grow as an athlete and as a person. Good luck at college next year, where I know you are going to make Gladwin proud.
Jimbo Bailey: The memory of you that will be engrained in my mind is just how hard you practiced. Never have I had a player who ran as hard after fly balls in practice as you did. You gave the utmost effort during every single minute of practice, sacrificing your body, diving after fly balls in practice. You set an example to our younger players. This is a testament to your character, which will lead you on to great things in the future.
Keton Blackmer: The character from Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, is our Keton. You never had a sour word to say to me or your teammates. You had a constant smile on your face and your demeanor never seemed to change, never too happy, never to upset. I will truly miss that opportunity this season. My favorite memory of you isn’t a baseball memory, but rather your attitude in practice. I have never coached anyone who was so even keeled. Steady and unwavering.
Blake McCummings: If ever there was a player I looked forward to coaching between there Junior year and Senior year, it was you. The time and effort you put in between those 2 years was tremendous. Your work ethic and attitude are your strengths. Those strengths are going to be valuable assets in the future. Don’t forget where you came from and I know that you are going to make Gladwin proud.
Ryan Kendall: I was looking very forward to the opportunity of coaching you this spring. When the boys told me that you had decided to play I was so happy. I only had 4 days to watch you practice this spring but it looked so promising, you were going to be a valuable asset to the team. Like I said about Dillon, your maturity and growth from Junior High through your Senior year was tremendous.You are going to go on to do nothing but great things in the future.