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Tribute to MARK SCHUMANN

Tribute to MARK SCHUMANN

All-Sports Enthusiast and Teacher of Integrity

In recent years, particularly since last year, the Cedar Springs area has lost some truly good people who have  been a positive part of our community.  These were individuals for whom you almost expected and wanted to see at any given celebratory gathering, town-hall meeting, festival or sporting event.  Such is the case with the passing of Mark Schumann last week.  Mr. Schumann, to the 4,000 or so of his students he taught in 35 yrs, he was affectionately known as ‘Schu’ to all his classmates, boyhood friends and sports acquaintances.  If northern Kent County was part of Great Britain, he would certainly have been “Sir Mark”.  You see, as close to Knighthood that our town could bestow upon a resident for an unprecedented relationship with his high school’s athletic program, Mark would be the antithesis of such a person.

On the coat-tails of my brother and his life-long friend, Tim, I was one of those fortunate enough to call him Schu as early as 1970.  Four grades older can seem like a decade, when you’re a kid, so it was quite rare for someone that much younger to be allowed to join in and participate in ‘much older’ boys’ games.  While you could expect a cold shoulder from other less-patient boys, this was never the case with Mark.  He was always polite and respectful to me; even caring at times about my safety and well-being from injury!  It was that thoughtful, friendly and cordial personality that I witnessed him having toward virtually all people he’d interact with into his adulthood, no matter their age or disposition.  Always seemed like he was the first to wave or greet you with a wide, firm hand-shake, while looking you in the eye to ask how you were.  Anyone who knew him could sense the honest, straight-forward truth that emitted from his stories of thrilling games or life’s events he witnessed.  It was that reliable, dependable and assuming character that made it easy for people to trust him with so much responsibility as his young age.   He certainly didn’t fall far from ‘his tree’.  Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Schumann.

It all started in the early ‘70s when young student, Schu, could be seen at every Skinner Field football game to eagerly help with grounds-keeping; picking up cones, markers and assisting with equipment on the sidelines during Varsity games.  It wasn’t long until he was overseeing fieldhouse and pressbox details of announcing Frosh and JV games.  Ultimately, he fulfilled his duties by becoming the manager of the football team.  He was naturally destined to be such an integral part of the entire football complex, as if it were his front yard; for it was!  Sitting across from the field, at the end of the then unpaved street, sat the well-kept quaint home of a young boy who dreamed of riding with his folks to see his beloved Tigers or his dad’s Cubbies over in Chicago, on beautifully manicured fields,  just the way their family’s yard always looked.  During the fall season, one can only imagine the excitement that that little boy felt on all those football nights, as he gazed out his living room window, seeing the bright lights shining on a colorful display of sporting action and spectator fun.  I’m sure it sometimes wasn’t easy for him to fall asleep with the loud noise of the crowd cheering a late TD, or the announcer’s captivating voice, echoing through the crisp autumn air; as he quietly lay there with a sleepy grin.  His legacy in Red Hawk sports history was beginning to grow, with each game-winning dream at that youthful age.

From various sports involvement through each decade, Mark would wear many Red Hawk ‘hats’, including:  Playing rocket football, youth basketball, little league and 4 yrs HS baseball, Jr High and 4 yrs HS school basketball; coaching youth, girl’s and boy’s HS basketball; reffing rocket football, girl’s basketball and umping softball; keeping score, running clock or announcing an endless number of games for all the CS teams.  His time-consuming contributions of helping support Red Hawks sports for over 40 yrs has never been matched before, probably never being duplicated again in the school’s future.  I can only hope that the powers that be within this community would someday pay indelible homage to this deserving, CS sports figure, by naming a street or sports structure after him. 

Personally, I wanted to write this sports tribute to Schu, for the many boyhood memories I still hold today.  He was, in many respects, my ‘other brother of sports’.  For a little over one year, starting the summer of 1972 when my family moved into town, I would become Schu’s neighbor.  Besides having the obvious fun kids would have hitting whiffle ball HRs over the garage, watching the big game on TV, or throwing TD passes to the corner of the end zone on Skinner field after a game, etc., it was the intangible things that I would learn during that year about sports history, competition and sportsmanship from a mature, junior high student athlete.  I didn’t realize it then, but I was getting to know a real-life sports guru, long before the term was popular.  The rest of us didn’t need to wait until the local TV or GR newspaper arrived to know what happened with our favorite team. It was uncanny to hear him recall scores and time frames of games.  I saw his dedication to following a favorite team and their athletes, even during losing seasons, which helped me understand what team loyalty was all about.  Through all those lean years of his Tigers, or his dad’s Cubbies, I saw how a true fan understood the big picture of enjoying the game for the entire season.  I owe so many “Thank you’s” to Schu for inviting me to ride along to numerous HS games, or the one time I’d be a 4th fan with  his family at Wrigley Field; the only time I’d see that stadium.  It was inspiring for this tag-along to watch him in the art of politely asking big-time, pro athletes for their autograph.  Now, I’d give almost anything to be able to see Schu once more, to be able to ask for his. 

Rest In Peace, My Friend.. My boyhood and young adult years were a lot more enjoyable because of you.

Please save me a seat somewhere near you and your family, in ‘The Stadium on the other side.

Mark Covell

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Ray Winnie
Kent County Credit Union

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