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Local man to be inducted into NCCAA Hall of Fame

Gary Bailey, the Grace Christian University’s men’s basketball Head Coach and Athletic Director, has been announced as an inductee to the 2021 class of the National Christian College Athletic Association Hall of Fame. 

Bailey, a long-time Cedar Springs resident, was inducted into Grace’s Hall of Fame in 2013 for his winning record, and now will be honored on the national level.

Beyond his coaching accolades, which include 335 wins (most all-time at Grace) and 6 National Championships, the recognition is also a reflection of Bailey’s impact within the NCCAA in mentoring other schools and serving in volunteer leadership positions within the organization for the past two decades. Bailey joins Dr. Rick Wright from Manhattan Christian College (KS) in the class of 2021, as they enter a Hall of Fame that currently consists of 61 other members for an NCCAA organization that has had a rich history since its inception in 1968. 

“Gary Bailey has been a great influence on coaches, staff, and so many students who participated in athletics in any way here at Grace Christian University,” said Grace President Dr. Ken Kemper. “He’s led a coaching staff in basketball and other sports to prioritize godly character building in the lives of those at Grace which will transcend their playing days and make better men, women, spouses, parents, Christ-followers, and citizens. This is a well-deserved recognition by a National organization which is committed to athletics for the glory of God and serving others. We could not be more proud of Gary and congratulate him and his always faithful wife Danette.” 

When Bailey started with Grace, it was just supposed to be temporary.

“When I started coaching, it was really just filling in until they did a coaching search at Grace Christian University. Somehow it turned into a career,” Bailey told the Post in a written statement. “My goals were always to help my student athletes to learn about life more than basketball. Getting an honor like this was never even a thought. Grace Christian University has been so wonderful to me and my family. The honor of the Hall of Fame only has my name on it but it is truly all of my assistant coaches, the players that have played for me and the entire GCU family.  I am pretty humbled by all of this.”

The official induction ceremony will take place at the Hall of Fame Dinner on June 3, 2021 during the annual NCCAA Convention in Virginia Beach, VA. 

See the original press release and find more info on Gary Bailey’s accomplishments at gracetigers.com.

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CTA celebrates 20th anniversary

L to R:  Dan George, CTA School Leader/Superintendent; Ron Rizzo, Director, Ferris State University Charter Schools Office; Lexie Coxon, former Superintendent; Dr. Richard Halik, Consultant for Board Policy, National Charter Schools Institute; and Dan Quisenberry, President of Michigan Association of Public School Academies. Courtesy photo.
This ceiling in the auditorium at CTA (which was formerly Jordan Chapel) is made up of planks from area barns. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

This ceiling in the auditorium at CTA (which was formerly Jordan Chapel) is made up of planks from area barns. Post photo by J. Reed.

When Lexie Coxon was told in May of 1998 that Ferris State University was going to issue a charter to Creative Technologies Academy to become a school for grades 7-12, she wasn’t sure how they were going to get the 120 students they needed to open. But they did it by the skin of their teeth—and opened with 122 that September.

“It was a tremendous challenge,” she said.

Coxon and others spoke about the school’s journey during CTA’s 20th anniversary celebration on Friday, May 11.

The property at 350 Pine Street, in Cedar Springs, was originally the home of Jordan College, founded by Lexie and her husband DeWayne. In 1966, they bought the property, and in 1967 they built their first building. Coxon explained how back then, they got building materials from area farmers who were tearing down their barns. A good example is in the planking in the chapel roof—it all came from area farmers.

In those early days of charter schools, Lexie and DeWayne’s son, Rob Coxon, told them to get a charter, they would need to have something unique. So they decided to go into being a computer based program. “We were one of the first schools to have computers for all students,” said Lexie.

She also noted that while most charter schools were for-profit, they wanted to remain a non-profit. And needing to have 120 students was tough—they had no money and no resources. But they made it work.

As time went on, they added in grades K-6. This year the school had 319 students K-12.

Lexie was also proud of the fact they have had 100 percent compliance with all of the paperwork that is needed. Ron Rizzo, with FSU, backed her up on that. “I don’t think there is any other academy that has had 100 percent compliance for 17 years,” he said. “It’s amazing. That means every document turned in on time.”

Rizzo said CTA was one of their original class of nine academies. “I’ve been here for 16 of those 20 years. It’s very welcoming. You truly are here for kids, doing what’s best for the trajectory of their lives. You should very proud of what you have accomplished here,” he said.

Dan Quisenberry, President of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies noted that CTA feels like family. “Charters were intended to be that—partnerships. Think of the kids’ lives you’ve impacted here. You are doing something important.” He also noted that charter schools are the “R&D” (research and development) of education. “Dan (George, current school superintendent) doesn’t view CTA as a competitor, but as a partner,” he said.

He noted that CTA teacher Kayla Campbell, who was recently named one of the top 5 charter school teachers in the state by MAPSA, represented CTA well. “We did a Facebook live announcement and I think you had every student in here. When we announced it, I thought this place was going to fall down,” he said.

Former teacher and coach Gary Bailey shared both some funny stories and some more serious thoughts. “Most coaches know that our success is measured by #s (winds and losses) after our name. But we know success is more than that.” He went on to share how a former student had sent him a video at 1:40 a.m. that morning, thanking him for being a mentor.

Kurt Mabie, a former educator who retired five  years ago from public education, said he’s been involved with CTA for 15 years. And he has been happy to work with Dan George and CTA via the Community Building Development Team. “Through collaboration, great things can happen,” he said. “Nothing happens on its own.”

One of those things is the recent donation of 10 acres to CTA by Fred and Carolee Gunnell. The property will be the future home of a new gymnasium for the school with a soccer field, and a couple of classrooms. And when it is not being used by the school, it will be open to the community, which fulfills one of the goals of the CBDT—to have a recreation center. 

George said that the planning, fundraising, and construction of that facility would be a major undertaking and their biggest project over the next five years.

The Post asked George what he is most proud of accomplishing at CTA. “I can answer that in two ways, institutionally and personally. First, we are proud to be able to give the families of the communities we serve a quality choice for the education of their children while partnering, not competing, with our neighboring traditional public schools. That produces a shared focus on doing what is best for kids. Personally, I’m proud of the staff that has become my team over the last 8+ years. Their dedication, love of kids, professionalism, and pursuit of learning is unsurpassed,” he said.

For more on CTA, visit www.ctachargers.org.

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Dan George honored by NCCAA

Dan George with Ben Belleman, NCCAA Director of Member Relations.

Dan George, Cedar Springs resident and Associate Head Coach for the Grace Bible College men’s basketball team, was honored with the NCCAA Game Plan 4 Life Award this past week in Louisville, KY. This is the highest honor given to an athletics staff member in the NCCAA at the end of each year. Here he is shown with Grace Head Coach Gary Bailey.

Dan George, Grace Bible College’s Associate Head Coach for men’s basketball, was honored Thursday night, June 1, at the National Christian College Athletic Association’s National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, with the “Game Plan for Life Athletic Staff Character Award.” It is the highest honor given by the NCCAA to athletic staff and is awarded to one male and one female athletic staff member in the nation each year. Dan is the only assistant coach to receive the award in its history. The purpose of the award is to honor athletic staff members who epitomize the Christian character qualities of Love, Integrity, Faith, and Excellence. Dan has served Grace with Head Coach Gary Bailey in a program that has won 10 regional championships and 5 national championships during that time. But the GP4L award is prestigious because of its emphasis on more than winning games. It honors those who have a lasting impact on people they serve.

In nominating Coach George for this award, Coach Bailey said, “Dan agreed to be an assistant coach for a year in which I took the job for one season to help them [Grace] out while they looked for their full time coach. That one year has turned into 12 (and going) and Dan has come along side each and every year in leadership of this team.  He is the only assistant coach in the Grace Athletic Hall of Fame. Dan has invested in kids and students’ lives for over 40 years working in either college or K-12 school settings. He currently is the Superintendent at a local charter school [Creative Technologies Academy]. He has served on numerous boards including his home church and Pineview Homes, a home for abused, neglected and delinquent boys for 42 years.  A year ago Dan started a chapter of Polestar Outdoors in west Michigan, a national organization that mentors youth in the outdoors. He is very active in other community service projects in and around his home town of Cedar Springs, Michigan.”

Dan is also a good role model for the players. “He is the ultimate ‘lead by example’ man,” said former player Caleb Combs. “Although many coaches and teachers will often get caught in the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality, Dan walks the walk. This is evident not only while he is on the court, but more importantly, off the court.”

Grace President Ken Kemper spoke about the difference that Dan has made. “Dan has full time employment elsewhere, and volunteers an enormous amount of time to mentor and work with the young men on our campus. His love for the game, and even more so, his love for ministering to young men through the game of basketball has made a huge impact on many young men and their families.”

Finally, long time coaching rival and NCCAA National Chair for men’s basketball, Jon Mack, whose University of Valley Forge teams lost in three national championship games to Gary Bailey and the Grace Tigers, had this to say about Dan George:  “I have been privileged to compete against Dan George and the Grace Bible College Men’s Basketball team over the past decade. Many of those competitions were for NCCAA national and regional championships. Although we have been winless in postseason competition against Grace Bible College, I have personally experienced great spiritual victories that have shaped my faith and purpose with God through the direct and indirect influence from Coach Dan George. Coach George has reflected love, integrity, faith, and excellence regardless of the result. It is very evident that the central focus of his heart is Christ and it’s reflected in how he influences people. I have personally experienced his love for me by his encouraging words during discouraging moments in my life over the past years, including the present. I am forever grateful to Coach George for his eternal investment in my life through the game we call basketball.”

Congratulations, Dan, and thank you for the impact you make on the community around you!

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Cedar Springs duo leads Tigers to regional championship

Two Cedar Springs men, Gary Bailey (right) and Dan George (left) are the head coach and assistant coach for the men’s basketball team at Grace Bible College in Grand Rapids. Last weekend they celebrated their ninth regional championship.

Two Cedar Springs men, Gary Bailey (right) and Dan George (left) are the head coach and assistant coach for the men’s basketball team at Grace Bible College in Grand Rapids. Last weekend they celebrated their ninth regional championship.

Gary Bailey, Dan George continue to build Grace basketball tradition

Two Cedar Springs men continue to build the basketball tradition at Grace Bible College—winning nine regional championships in 11 years of coaching. But the twist in the tale is this: in the beginning, they didn’t intend for the coaching jobs to be permanent.

When Gary Bailey, of Cedar Springs, took over as head coach of the Grace Bible College men’s basketball team in 2005, his intention was to take the job for a year. His son, Kirby, was a senior and an All-American for the Tigers, and Bailey saw his role as a transition one for that one year. He called his former college coach and long time friend, Dan George, currently school leader and superintendent at Creative Technologies Academy, and asked him to be his assistant.

Reflecting on that request, Dan explains, “I said, OK, I’ll do it for a year.” But the Tigers surprised everyone that first year, transforming a mid-season mediocre record to an overtime regional championship victory, and then went on to shock the national tournament’s #2, #3, and #1 seeds in successive games and won the national championship on a last second buzzer beater tip in by former Cedar Springs High School player, Jimmy Booth.

I think we got hooked,” says Dan, with a smile, “so we decided to hang around for more than that one year.”

The Grace Bible Tigers celebrated winning the regional championship last weekend, and are poised to win it all this season.

The Grace Bible Tigers celebrated winning the regional championship last weekend, and are poised to win it all this season.

One year has been extended to 11 and the two show no signs of retirement, yet. This past Saturday, the Tigers won their ninth regional championship in those 11 years with a dominant 79-49 win over Maranatha Baptist University. Bailey was named regional coach of the year for the seventh time to go with two national coach of the year awards and the prestigious Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan College Coach of the Year in 2011.

Bailey and George added a run of four consecutive national championships in 2009-2012, which included a streak of 69 consecutive NCCAA victories, a record that most people in the NCCAA say will never be broken, and brought their total to five rings in 10 years, and this year’s Tigers appear poised to challenge for a sixth.

The Tigers have become a highly respected small college program with a reputation of a willingness to play anyone, anywhere, and being competitive when they do. Signature wins in the last eleven years include victories over Ferris State University, Davenport University, Cornerstone University, and perennial MIAA powerhouses Calvin College and Hope College.

Although the small school does not give athletic scholarships, their schedule annually includes a number of high profile programs that do give athletic scholarships, and Bailey and his coaches have been able to assemble and develop some outstanding talent in the last 11 years. This year’s schedule included Coastal Carolina University, an NCAA Division 1 national tournament team last year, several NCAA Division II schools, including two in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Grand Valley State University, Northern Michigan University, and Saginaw Valley State University, and several NAIA programs. The Tigers also played a preliminary game at the Palace of Auburn Hills on the night the Pistons retired Chauncey Billups’ jersey. The guarantees provided by playing these larger schools help fund the Tigers’ ambitious travel schedule and the tough schedule helps them attract and develop talent that other schools have overlooked.

One of those overlooked players was Allen Durham who played high school ball at Wyoming Park High School, won three national championships at Grace, spent most of this year with the Dallas Mavericks organization, and is now starring in professional play in France. Most of Grace’s high profile games are played early in the season and toughen the Tigers in preparation for the very difficult NCCAA games and end of the year tournaments.

There is little doubt that the success of the men’s basketball program has had an impact off the court as well. The college was recently recognized as the fastest growing Bible college in the United States. The coaching staff has also emphasized community service and the team tackles several projects a year. One of their favorites is an annual visit to Pineview Homes, a home for delinquent, abused, and neglected boys in Evart, Michigan. Each Christmas season, the Tigers spend several hours with the boys in an afternoon and then attend their Christmas party and dinner. Pineview Director Paul Derscheid, says it is something the boys talk about weeks before in anticipation and months afterward they are still wearing their autographed Grace shirts.

Both coaches are members of the Grace Athletic Hall of Fame with Bailey being inducted in 2013 and George being inducted in 2014. While acknowledging satisfaction in the accomplishments and appreciation for the awards and recognition, Bailey is quick to give credit to those who have assisted in this journey.

For George, it is more than the rings and thrill of championships that keeps him going. “It’s the relationships you build along the way, with fellow coaches, with players, and even opponents,” says Dan, “and it’s the opportunity to mentor and influence young men in the things that are more important than basketball.”

Bailey echoes that sentiment. “Our rewards are far beyond wins and losses. It’s the opportunity to see young men develop on and off the court, and become outstanding husbands, fathers, and contributors to society.”

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Bailey named regional Coach of the Year

Gary Bailey, of Cedar Springs, and head coach of the Grace Bible College Tigers mens basketball team, was named Regional Coach of the Year. The Grace Bible Tigers won their regional championship and will play in the national tournament this week. They are coached by Cedar Springs resident Gary Bailey, (second from left.) CTA principal Dan George (second from right) is an assistant coach at Grace.

Gary Bailey, of Cedar Springs, and head coach of the Grace Bible College Tigers mens basketball team, was named Regional Coach of the Year.

The Grace Bible Tigers won their regional championship and will play in the national tournament this week. They are coached by Cedar Springs resident Gary Bailey, (second from left.) CTA principal Dan George (second from right) is an assistant coach at Grace.

The Grace Bible Tigers won their regional championship and will play in the national tournament this week. They are coached by Cedar Springs resident Gary Bailey, (second from left.) CTA principal Dan George (second from right) is an assistant coach at Grace.

Gary Bailey, Cedar Springs resident and head coach of the Grace Bible College Tigers men’s basketball team, was awarded his second consecutive NCCAA DII Midwest Regional Coach of the Year honor last weekend.

This is the sixth time Coach Bailey has received the award in his 10-year collegiate coaching career. He has led the Tigers to a 19-13 record so far this season, including a Regional Championship Title and an appearance to the upcoming NCCAA National Tournament on March 12-14.

The Tigers clinched their regional championship last weekend, when they defeated Maranatha Baptist University 80-65. The win earned the Tigers a guaranteed bid to the NCCAA DII National Tournament held in Circleville, OH at Ohio Christian University.

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Gary Bailey inducted into Grace Bible Athletic Hall of Fame


Cedar Springs resident and Grace Bible College Men’s Basketball Head Coach, Gary Bailey, was inducted into the Grace Bible College Athletic Hall of Fame in ceremonies on October 12, at the Aldrich Center on the GBC campus. Also inducted was Jodi Kline, women’s basketball standout at Grace from 2004-2008.

Bailey was named the Tigers head coach in 2005 and came to Grace with a strong winning tradition. As a player at Wheelersburg High School in southern Ohio, he helped the Pirates to a 64-4 record over four years. Upon graduation, he played at Jordan College, in Cedar Springs, where he helped the Suns to winning records from 1978-1982. Associate Head Coach at Grace, Dan George, the head coach at Jordan College in those years, recruited and signed Bailey as a scholarship athlete at Jordan. The two have remained friends since and Coach George was the master of ceremonies for Bailey’s induction Saturday night.

Gary Bailey coaching during a game.

Gary Bailey coaching during a game.

George joked with the gathering, “This is not the guy I recruited in 1978. To be sure, some things are still the same. He still likes his Ohio State Buckeyes and he can still hit the 22-foot bank shot from the wing. But his knees don’t work nearly as well. His hair is gray and there is a lot less of it. And he’s a lot smarter now than he was in 1978. And the guy I recruited looked a lot more like Donny Osmond.”

Bailey also coached at Pineview Boys Home in Evart, Michigan for eight years, compiling a 153-31 record before coaching at Grace.

In 8 seasons coaching at Grace, Bailey’s accomplishments are nothing short of remarkable.

All-time leader in wins at Grace with 190

Coached GBC to six Regional Titles

Coached GBC to five National Championships, including four consecutively

Most National Championships of any men’s coach in NCCAA History

Teams have averaged over 23 wins a year

Over the last eight seasons, the Tiger’s have a 126-20 record against NCCAA teams nationally and an NCCAA Regional record of 77-8.

NCCAA Midwest Region Coach of the year 4 times (2008, 2009, 2010, & 2011)

NCCAA National Coach of the Year 2 times (2009 & 2011)

The Christian College Sports Network Coach of the Year 2011

The Glen VanWieren (Hope College) Champions of Character Coach of the Year in 2012

The Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan College Coach of the Year in 2011

During the run of four consecutive national championships, from 2009-2012, Coach Bailey’s Grace teams established a record 69 consecutive NCCAA wins, a record that may never be broken.

Coached 13 players named Academic All American.

Coached 25 NCCAA All Region selections & 12 NCCAA All Americans

Coached 9 players named to the NCCAA National All-tournament Team and 5 players selected as the tournament MVP

Coached 2 players named the Pete Maravich Award winner as the top player in the NCCAA (Allen Durham & Cory Jamieson)

It should be noted that Bailey and his teams accomplished all of the above while playing the toughest competition that he could schedule including NCAA DI, DII, and DII and NAIA programs.

Perhaps one of the best measures of a man is what his competitors and members of the coaching profession say about him.

“He certainly has had a big impact on Grace Bible College itself but I’d go even bigger in that, because of his integrity and influence, Grace has had an impact on the bigger community. Because Grace Men’s Basketball has been able to compete with (and beat) colleges in West Michigan I think Grace Bible College as a whole is now seen as an institution of higher learning on a par with so many more schools.” –Kevin Vandestreek, Head Basketball Coach, Calvin College

“Coach Bailey has always impressed me as a man of character, honor and integrity. He understands how to win with dignity and is willing to share this knowledge with his players…I have learned a ton from Coach Bailey and am glad to join in his tribute as he is inducted into the Grace Bible College Athletics Hall of Fame.” –Matt Neil, Head Basketball Coach, Hope College

“Gary is one of the best coaches in the state of Michigan, all divisions included.  What he has done in such a short time at Grace Bible is remarkable. I appreciate the fact that he is willing to schedule anyone. Gary has instilled in his teams confidence and a ‘fear nobody’ mindset. Coach Bailey is one of the classiest coaches that I know. He does things the right way, without compromising any of his standards.  His teams are always well-coached and well-prepared.” –Coach Kim Elders, Head Basketball Coach, Cornerstone University

“I have never had a more amiable relationship with a coach who won every game our teams competed in. Gary has been a friend, a confidant, and has provided a model for building a program that balances athletic excellence with Christian virtue. He demonstrates admiration and respect for his opponents and their efforts. He excels in all areas of the game as a coach, but more importantly seeks to instill godly character into his student athletes. If I had to pick a coach for my son, Gary would be at the top of my list. Congratulations to Grace for inducting a true winner into your Hall of Fame!” –Neil Ring, Head Basketball Coach, Bob Jones University (formerly head coach at Maranatha Baptist Bible College)

“This is a great honor for one of the best coaches in NCCAA history. What I appreciate most about our many battles of competition is the genuine friendship that we have developed over the years.  You have challenged me directly and indirectly how to be a winner beyond the game of basketball, and for that, I am forever grateful for our friendship.  Continue to be a reflector for Christ!  Congratulations, my friend! Well deserved!” –Jon Mack, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Valley Forge Christian College

Behind every successful man is a patient and good woman. Gary has been married to his wife, Danette, for 32 years. He has two children, Kirby 30, an All American basketball player at Grace and a member of the Hall of Fame, and a daughter Kylie and son in law Kyle. He has two grandchildren, Christian and Kennedy Grace (appropriately named).



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Grace Tigers win national championship

Grace Tigers, coached by Cedar Springs residents Gary Bailey and Dan George, are national champions again.

Coach Gary Bailey, of Cedar Springs, and assistant coach Dan George, also of Cedar Springs, led the Tigers of Grace Bible College to their fourth straight national championship last weekend.

It was an emotional but rewarding final game to end the careers of seven seniors, as the Tigers held off a talented and persistent Valley Forge Christian College team, 77-71, to win the 2012 NCCAA II National Championship and finish the season with a 25-10 record. For the seniors, it was their fourth consecutive title.

“‘FINISH’ has been our motto,” said senior captain and CCSN Player of the Game, Matt Kurtz (Lowell).  “We want to make that a lifetime goal, not just for basketball.”  Seniors Kurtz, Cameron Myers, David Steenstra, John Oostema, Carl Getty, Ryan Krombeen, and Cory Jamieson finished well.

The Tigers built a 13-point lead at the end of the first half, 43-30, on double digit scoring from seniors Cory Jamieson (Wayland) and Ryan Krombeen (Calvin Christian), their 3-2 zone defense, and Krombeen’s rebounding. But there was no quit in the Patriots. Valley Forge came out with intense pressure at the beginning of the second half and the Tiger lead evaporated as they found themselves trailing by four midway through the second half. But there was no quit in the Tigers, either, as they fought back and built a lead of 8 points with 2 minutes to go and held off the Patriots for the win.

It was a total team effort that sealed the deal for the Tigers.  Kurtz and Krombeen combined for 26 rebounds.  Jamieson led all scorers with 23 points, junior Zach Schutte (Calvin Christian) had 19 points and 5 rebounds, Krombeen had 17 points, and senior John Oostema (Grand Rapids Christian) completed the double figure scoring for the Tigers with 10 points. Schutte and Jamieson were named to the All-Tournament Team and Jamieson was named Tournament MVP.

“We have tremendous respect for Coach John Mack and the Valley Forge team,” said Head Coach Gary Bailey, who had his father, John, on the bench for the game. “They were tremendous competitors and worthy opponents.” For Bailey and Assistant Coach Dan George, who have been together for seven years at Grace, this was their fifth national championship—2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

The Tigers wish to thank all of their fans and player families who have supported them this year!

Story courtesy of Grace Bible College


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