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West Michigan Hawks fall to Bengals

The West Michigan Hawks stepped up their game last Saturday against the Wayne County Bengals with 10 turnovers. Photo by K. Alvesteffer.

The West Michigan Hawks stepped up their game last Saturday against the Wayne County Bengals with 10 turnovers. Photo by K. Alvesteffer.

By Shae Brophy

The West Michigan Hawks hosted the #10 ranked Wayne County Bengals, in a divisional matchup Saturday, June 27. The Hawks came up short, in an exciting game, falling 48-34.

Wayne County scored the first touchdown of the game and took a 6-0 lead, after failing to convert on the first two conversions. The Hawks then scored 18 consecutive points in the first quarter. Joel Paasch intercepted a pass in the end zone and returned it 103 yards to the three yard line. On the ensuing drive, quarterback Jeff Krebs found Omar Haynes in the end zone for a touchdown. Defensive end Corey Steele returned a fumble 45 yards for a touchdown, and Dontae Ensley caught his first touchdown of the season as well. The Hawks led the game 18-14 after one quarter.

After a very defensive second quarter, Wayne County led 26-18 at the half. The Bengals proceeded to build a 40-18 lead after three quarters. The Hawks made things interesting late in the game, but were unable to close the gap on the scoreboard.

Wide receiver Dontae Ensley finished the game with two touchdowns and two 2-point conversions. Wide receiver Omar Haynes scored a touchdown, and quarterback Jeff Krebs pounded one in on his own from the two-yard line. Defensively, cornerback Joel Paasch wound up with two interceptions. Safety Nate Johnson also had two interceptions, and cornerback Omar Haynes finished with one interception. All together, the Hawks forced 10 turnovers for the game (5 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 turnovers on downs), while only committing five of their own. The 34 points were more than twice as many as the Hawks had scored in any other game this year, and the most the Bengals had allowed to any team this season.

Ensley remarked: “We started out better than we ever have. I knew it was going to be a good game until (we gave up) the two straight scores, then we fell apart a little bit. That didn’t keep us down too long though, because we started fighting back again. In the end it’s all about having fun.”

Head Coach David Lange had this to say about the game: “We played a hard fought game which I think we could have and should have won. We put up 34 points and forced 10 turnovers, which is outstanding. However, the one thing we as a team need to work on is keeping our foot on the gas the whole game and not let up. We are a first year team; we are going to run into problems along the way. All we can do is overcome these problems and move on. In our next game, we face the Michigan Renegades in Detroit and I can promise that we are going to take it to them.”

After taking this weekend off to celebrate Independence Day, the team will be in action again on July 11, traveling to Detroit to face the Michigan Renegades.

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Meet the Hawks: Darren Trader

Darren Trader

Darren Trader

By Shae Brophy

Meet offensive/defensive lineman Darren Trader. Darren, a 2007 graduate from Tri County High School, is one of a few players who see time on offense and defense. Primarily used on offense, his 6 foot 4 inch frame comes in handy on the defensive line as well. Trader has been involved with football since he was in the third grade, and played baseball at Tri County his junior and senior years of high school.

When he isn’t on the gridiron, Darren enjoys hunting, fishing, and golfing. Some of his idols include (Houston Texans defensive end) JJ Watt, (former NFL defensive end) Reggie White, and Michael Jordan.

According to Trader, the chance to play football again was a chance to fall in love with the game all over again. “I got a phone call from (Hawks captain) Ryan Bell saying there would be a semi-pro team in Cedar Springs. I had my doubts at first, but he assured me that I would fall in love with the game all over again, and he was right. After the very first practice, I had made up my mind that I would join this team, and help build it in any way possible. Plus, my Mom went to Cedar Springs, and she always wanted me to play after high school. I know she’s looking down on me smiling and cheering the team on. The became a member of this team because the owner is a class act man, and the Hawks play football the way it is supposed to be played: hard, and to the whistle with no quit.”

Owner/head coach David Lange added: “Darren is one of our bigger guys. He is an anchor for our linemen. He hits hard and he creates the holes needed for our backs. Darren is not afraid to get down and dirty in the trenches. He is a very physical player with a lot of heart.”

On July 18th, the Hawks will host the Grand Rapids Thunder, in the inaugural William W. Phillips Memorial game, which is dedicated to Darren’s grandfather, who recently passed away. It will also be a military appreciation night.

The Hawks will be off this weekend, as the league celebrates Independence Day. The team will be in action again on July 11th, as they travel to Detroit to take on the Michigan Renegades.

Shae Brophy is the Media/Public Relations Director for the West Michigan Hawks.

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Rockford area kids triathlon


The 11th Annual Rockford Area Kids Triathlon is set to be held on Saturday July 11, 2015 at the Rockford North Middle School.  Races will start at 9:00 a.m. and participants should arrive an hour before race time.

This is a swim/bike/run event for children age 2-17 sponsored by the Rockford Public Safety, Kent County Sheriff’s Department, and the Michigan State Police. The purpose of the Kids Triathlon is not only to promote physical fitness to our children, but to give them positive alternatives to drugs and alcohol through athletic competition.

Every participant will receive a t-shirt, medal, and participation certificate. The top three boys and girls in each age group will receive a trophy. The cost of this race is $20.00 and all proceeds from this event will benefit the Michigan Special Olympics.

The following is a list of races, start times, age groups and the distances they will be performing in:



A 9:00am 16-17 400 yds 6 miles 3 miles
A 9:00am 14-15 400 yds 6 miles 3 miles
B 10:00am 12-13 200 yds 4 miles 2 miles
C 10:30am 10-11 200 yds 4 miles 2 miles
D 11:00am 8-9 100 yds 2 miles 1 mile
E 11:30am 6-7 100 yds 2 miles 1 mile
F 12:00pm 0-5 1 length 100 yds 100 yds

Awards will be presented at approximately 12:45pm.

For any questions or to register for this race please contact F/Lt Kevin Sweeney of the Michigan State Police at 517-719-1195 or by email at sweeneyk@michigan.gov

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Meet the Hawks: Ryan Bell


By Shae Brophy

Meet wide receiver Ryan Bell. Originally from Howard City, Michigan, Bell is currently leading the Hawks in touchdowns, with two receiving touchdowns through three games. He has been involved with football since his days in high school, where he won numerous awards. Some of those awards included a four-year player award, a captain’s award, as well as the Hammer Award, for the hardest hit of the season. Bell is a veteran in the league, having played for the Grand Rapids Thunder last season. He holds the league record for most tackles in a season, with 103 total tackles last year—a year in which he was also chosen as the third overall draft selection in the league all star game.

Some of Ryan’s hobbies other than football include going to church and carpentry. Bell also dedicates a significant amount of free time to the Grand Rapids Recovery Committee, which is an organization designed to help those with drug addictions. A few of Bell’s idols include Tim Tebow, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and author James Patterson’s fictional character Dr. Alex Cross.

When asked why he chose to be a member of the Hawks, Bell had a very specific answer. “2014 was a rough rookie year (with the Thunder) having not won a game all year, and not to mention never being given a real chance to show my versatility and play offense, despite accumulating 110 yards and a touchdown in the final two games of the season. The Hawks gave me a fresh start and a chance to be an integral part in building a successful franchise from the ground up.”

Owner/head coach David Lange had this to say about Bell: “Ryan is a leader, point blank. He knows the game and does an awesome job with making sure everyone is on the same page. Ryan is what I consider our possession receiver. Though he may not be the fastest, he is definitely one that can always find a way to come down with the ball when it is sent his way.”

Shae Brophy is the Media/Public Relations Director for the West Michigan Hawks.

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Hawks game rescheduled


The game between the West Michigan Hawks and the Motor City Jaguars, which was scheduled to be played in Detroit last weekend, was postponed until August 1, because of issues with the scheduling of the field.

But the Hawks will be in action at home this weekend, when they host the Wayne County Bengals, in a divisional matchup. The game will be held at Skinner Field on Saturday, June 27, with the doors opening at 6 p.m., and kickoff slated for 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 a piece, and can be purchased at the door. Hope to see you there!

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Overcoming the pain


Cedar Springs resident to swim in Meijer State Games

Stacie Carr, of Cedar Springs, will swim in the Meijer State Games.

Stacie Carr, of Cedar Springs, will swim in the Meijer State Games.

By Kenneth DeGraaf

The opening ceremony for the 2015 Meijer State Games of Michigan–Summer Games is just a week away, and the games will include a swimmer from Cedar Springs, who is participating despite the pain she faces on a daily basis.

Born in Wyoming, Michigan, and currently a resident of Cedar Springs, 28-year old Stacie Carr considers swimming her hobby and passion only second to her husband, Cody, and newborn baby girl, Clare. Her goal in the sport is simple, to always be better than the previous day. “I want to be faster every time I am in the water,” Stacie said. Stacie began swimming competitively at the age of 12, following right in her father’s footsteps. Her dad was a swimmer in high school and they had a houseboat growing up, so getting involved in the sport was nearly inevitable for Stacie.

Stacie with her husband, Cody, and newborn baby girl, Clare.

Stacie with her husband, Cody, and newborn baby girl, Clare.

Things aren’t always easy for Stacie, however, as she is a victim of Reflect Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome. “It is a chronic pain condition that affects my nervous system,” Stacie explained. “I have had 10+ surgeries over the last 8.5 years including an implanted spinal cord stimulator to help block the pain signal from getting to my brain. I cannot feel my lower left leg except internal pain, so getting used to that while also trying to be a better swimmer has been quite the change.”

Despite the challenges she has faced, Stacie has won her fair share of medals and ribbons over the past 16 years, and she hopes this year’s Meijer State Games of Michigan will present her with another opportunity. The main goal, however, has always gone back to improving herself. “I am going to try to better my most recent times in my events,” Stacie responded when asked about her desired accomplishments for this year’s event. Throughout her years of participation in the State Games, Stacie has always seen the event as an opportunity to compete against some of the best in Michigan while keeping her on her toes and giving her something to really train for.

One phrase Stacie loves to live by is, “There is always someone better than you.” She uses this phrase on a daily basis as a means to engage in positive sportsmanship. “There is always someone better than you and in my opinion the relationships you make doing what you love are far more important than the ribbons and medals,” Stacie explained. When asked about her methods of maintaining a healthy living, Stacie responded, “I try to watch what I eat and workout 3-5 times a week even if it’s just little things. My husband and I had a baby recently so finding time can be difficult but including her in it is also important to me.”

Through the challenges of raising a family in addition to her diagnosis of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome, it would be easy to understand why Stacie might give up on her lifelong passion of swimming. But for Stacie, these have been nothing but minor obstacles in the way of her main objective. “My goals are to always be better than I was the previous day, in all aspects of life.”

The Meijer State Games of Michigan is a multi-sport, Olympic-style event(s) that welcome athletes regardless of age or ability level. The Games embody the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living.

The opening ceremony will take place at Fifth Third Ballpark. on June 26, starting at 7:30 p.m.

For more info on events, visit stategamesofmichigan.com.

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CASSA U12 boys win division

Back row:  Coach Dale Bray, Ethan Kober, Nate VanKampen, Max McCoy, Martin Yakes, Spencer Bray, Dan Cole and Coach Andy Kolekamp. Middle  row: Reece Priebe, Brock Hearth, Jaedon Kutzli, Preston Ricker, Tarik Jack, David Burger Front row: Jayden Kolekamp

Back row:  Coach Dale Bray, Ethan Kober, Nate VanKampen, Max McCoy, Martin Yakes, Spencer Bray, Dan Cole and Coach Andy Kolekamp. Middle  row: Reece Priebe, Brock Hearth, Jaedon Kutzli, Preston Ricker, Tarik Jack, David Burger. Front row: Jayden Kolekamp

The CASSA  U12 boys team won their division in the Portage Classic Tournament this past weekend. The won 5-0, 8-1 and 6-0 to take home the championship trophy. They ended their season 10-2-2, which included six tournament games. In the regular season, they were 5-1-2.

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Meet the Hawks: Kameron Snyder


By Shae Brophy

West Michigan Hawks' middle linebacker/halfback Kameron Snyder with ball.

West Michigan Hawks’ middle linebacker/halfback Kameron Snyder with ball.

Meet middle linebacker/halfback Kameron Snyder. Snyder, originally from Cedar Springs, is one of the rookies on the team this year. Having played football and wrestled in school, Snyder brings a lot of heart and leadership to the team. He is also a mixed martial artist.

Snyder’s idols include Barry Sanders; UFC fighter Georges St. Pierre; undefeated collegiate and US Olympic wrestler Cael Sanderson; and USA wrestling Hall of Famer Dan Gable. When he is not laying big hits on the football field, Snyder enjoys spending as much time as possible with his newborn son; participating in MMA, and being outdoors.

When asked what Snyder brings to the team, owner/head coach David Lange had this to say: “Kam has heart and he’s got power. He’s the kind of guy every coach wants on their team. He looks at everything as a challenge, as an opportunity to get better.”

When asked why he wanted to be a member of the West Michigan Hawks, Snyder has a very encouraging reason. “I wanted to be a West Michigan Hawk because I want to be someone for the younger, troubled generations in Cedar to look up to or come to if ever in need of anything, and also to show them that there is hope to change your outlook on life if you are ever struggling.”

To this point on the season, Snyder is leading the team in solo tackles.

Snyder and the West Michigan Hawks will be in action again this Saturday, when the team travels to Detroit to take on the Motor City Jaguars. Both teams will be searching for their first win of the season. Everyone is invited to travel with the team to cheer on the Hawks, as they make their way into enemy territory! For details on where the game will be played, be sure to follow the West Michigan Hawks on Facebook!

Shae Brophy is the Media/Public Relations Director for the West Michigan Hawks.

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West Michigan Hawks fall in home opener


The West Michigan Hawks played host to the top ranked Michigan Lightning on Saturday evening at Skinner Field, in their first home game of the season. The Lightning won the contest, by a final score of 48-14. The game got off to a rocky start for the Hawks, as they trailed 28-0 after the first quarter, and 35-0 at halftime.

Things started to turn around for the team in the second half, however. Wide receiver Darwin Mathis was able to reel in a 66-yard pass from quarterback Jeff Krebs for the Hawks’ first touchdown of the game. Krebs then ran the ball into the end zone for the two-point conversion. Wide receiver Ryan Bell, team captain, also recorded a touchdown in the game, also bringing in a pass from Krebs, for an eight yard score.

Jeff Krebs finished the game 16-33 passing, with 194 yards. He threw for two touchdowns, one interception, and also carried the ball 8 times for 24 yards. Wide receiver Darwin Mathis led the Hawks with 7 catches for 117 yards, and a touchdown, while also picking up 23 yards rushing on 5 attempts. He also had an interception for the second consecutive game.

“We got off to a slow start to begin the game, but we improved as the game went on. Our goal everyday is to improve as a team,” said Mathis.

Defensively, linebacker Kam Snyder led the team in tackles, with 8. Linebacker Stan Scott had 7 tackles, and safety Nate Johnson had 5. Defensive end Corey Steele picked up the lone sack of the game for the Hawks.

Said Head Coach David Lange: “I think it’s fair to say that we have one of the toughest schedules in the league. It was very clear last night that we are coming together as a team. To score more points than any other team has this year against a team who travels the country is something to hang your hat on. With the exception of one or two bad apples, which have already been dealt with, the team is really coming together. I’m excited to see what we can do as we enter the midway point of our season!”

The Hawks travel to Detroit this Saturday, to take on the Motor City Jaguars (0-3), in a game that will see both teams looking to win their first game of the season. For information on where the game will be played, be sure to follow the West Michigan Hawks on Facebook!

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Two students to compete in world’s largest rodeo

Linnay (Couturier) Mallory competing in Barrel Racing.

Linnay (Couturier) Mallory competing in Barrel Racing.

Ana Moreno competing in Pole Bending.

Ana Moreno competing in Pole Bending.

Linnay (Couturier) Mallory and Ana Moreno, of Rockford, have both earned their spot in the National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR) competition in July. They secured their spots after competing at the Michigan State Finals Rodeo in Ovid, MI last weekend, in Barrel Racing, Pole Bending and Goat Tying.

Both girls are members of the Michigan High School Rodeo Association (MiHSRA), whose intent is to promote high school rodeo at the state level and encourage eligible students to participate at MiHSRA rodeos. This association promotes the highest type of conduct and sportsmanship while at various rodeos, striving to keep Western Heritage alive and active. The MiHSRA encourages students to further their education after high school with an aggressive Scholarship Program. To compete at each rodeo, students must meet National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA) grade and conduct qualifications.

Linnay (Couturier) Mallory

Linnay (Couturier) Mallory

Linnay (Couturier) Mallory, 17, a senior, has been involved with MiHSRA for four years. Two years ago when she was preparing to leave for Nationals, Linnay suffered a severe injury to her foot and had to withdraw one week before competition, leaving her devastated. Now after three years of qualifying, Linnay and her Quarter Horse, Double Vision Time (aka Blaze) are finally heading out West to compete.  “When I had my injury, I felt as if my rodeo career was coming to an end.” said Linnay. “But when I qualified for Nationals again this year…it was a true blessing, and I’m excited for the opportunity to go out to Wyoming and represent Michigan in Barrel Racing. I’m ecstatic about this trip and plan to go out with a bang for my Senior year at Nationals.” Linnay has been a member of the Rockford Equestrian Team, Kent County 4H and is the reigning Barrel Champion of the Double JJ 2014 Rodeo Season.

Ana Moreno

Ana Moreno

Ana Moreno 17, will be a Senior next fall.  Ana has been an active member of MiHSRA for three years and will be competing in Pole Bending. “The opportunity to compete at nationals with my amazing horse is an honor,” says Ana,”It will be memorable and is even more special to me because I qualified last year but due to family commitments I was unable to go.” Ana is also on the Rockford High School Equestrian Team and assisted in taking her Team to the 2014-15 State Finals in Midland.  She has been training and honing the skills of her young Quarter Horse, Playboy’s Jeweled Doc, for the last 2-1/2 years and they are consistently improving each season.  She credits her trainer, Michelle Wolf, with encouragement and direction. Ana is also involved in 4H, and plays on the Rockford High School Basketball and Track teams.

The NHSFR is the World’s largest rodeo and features more than 1,500 contestants from 42 states, five Canadian Provinces and Australia. In addition to competing for more than $200,000 in prizes, NHSFR contestants will also be competing for more than $350,000 in college scholarships and the chance to be named an NHSFR National Champion. Events include Bronc Riding, Team Roping, Steer Wrestling, Goat Tying, Pole Bending, Barrel Racing, Calf Roping, Breakaway Roping and Bull Riding.

If interested in wishing them luck, helping them travel across the country by making a donation or become a sponsor, please contact them thru: iny55@sbcglobal / 6226 Myers Lake Road, Rockford, MI 49341

For more information about MiHSRA please go to their website www.MiHSRA.com.

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