Last Saturday evening almost 200 people filled the Grandville Banquet Center to celebrate and honor the inaugural class of the Jenison Athletic Hall of Fame! According to Booster President, Dave Krombeen, they have been talking about the Hall of Fame for fifteen years and two years ago the volunteer committees finally started coming together to make a memorable evening for all involved. “[The inductees] are all keystones to the success of Jenison athletics. Everybody was part of building that sport for us and I can’t wait to hear them speak and share their thoughts on what Jenison meant to them.”
The event had a two-fold purpose: recognize outstanding athletes but also to raise funds on behalf of the Boosters. Guests were treated to a large silent auction during cocktail hour that included a variety of locally donated items and gift baskets. The auction included an autographed Red Wings jersey, Tigers tickets and much more! By the end of the evening the auction alone had raised $8000!
Six former Jenison athletes and two former members of the Jenison coaching and administration staff were inducted as the first class and nearly all of them were present and humbled by the honor.
Jennifer Crisman-Coffey [center] with friends
Jennifer Crisman-Coffey (1997)
“It’s a really great honor to be recognized with some of the greatest athletes at Jenison; it’s exciting!” Jenny starred at Jenison in swimming and water polo before continuing her career in both sports at the University of Michigan. She later competed in two United States Swim Trials and was a member of the USA National Swim and Water Polo teams. As the current Jenison Aquatics Director, swimming and water polo coach, “I really try to instill a love of the sport and it’s really fun to give back to a sport and the community that I love so much.”
Curt Pals and Sara Dyksterhouse-VanZyll
Sara Dyksterhouse-VanZyll (1986)
“Athletics make you who you are.” Sara was Jenison’s first All-State and Division I softball player for the Wildcats. She starred at the University of Michigan for four years and was a member of the 1992 USA national softball team before returning to assist her high school coach, Jerry Hoag, and help guide the Wildcats to three state titles. Sara is especially passionate about opportunities and encouragement for female athletes.
Curt served as Jenison’s athletic director from 1976-1999, and during those years, the school added volleyball, softball, girls cross country, boys and girls soccer, water polo and hockey. Those teams have combined to win nine state titles. When Curt was serving as Athletic Director he thought about starting a Hall of Fame so he is especially thankful for all the hard work that went into launching it this year. He enjoys hearing the sportsmanship announcement at the beginning of games noting that he wrote it during his tenure. He was proud to be recognized and added, “It’s a nice honor and I hope we set a good example” for current students.
Dave VanSurksum (1976)
Dave VanSurksum & his wife Jennifer [& a grandchild!]
Dave, who is still Jenison’s all-time scoring leader, led the Wildcats to their first district championships in 1974 and 1976. He later played for Grand Rapids Community College and Ferris State University. “This is the culmination of something that is close and dear to me.” His wife, Jennifer, adds that being inducted means “everything” to Dave. He believes that Jenison prepared him for his success by giving him a “ton of confidence, direction in terms of knowing that athletics will always be part of my life; I’m competitive because of it and I try to use that in my every day tasks.”
Jerry Hoag, busy with his fans
Jerry coached Jenison’s softball team for 19 years, guiding the Wildcats to six state championships and 14 OK Red Conference titles. He completed his career with an overall record of 529-95. “You can’t put this kind of thing into words.” “I hope [current students] can take a look at the history of athletics at Jenison High School and say, “I want to be part of that” and then they’ll start working for it. It doesn’t come easy.”
Jennifer Whitehead-Robinson (1995)
Jennifer Whitehead-Robinson [far right] with friends
Jenny is Jenison’s only athlete to earn all-state honors in three different sports. She went on to play volleyball at Michigan State University and later competed for the USA National Volleyball Team and professionally in the United States and Greece. Jenny says that her preparation at Jenison is “beyond words” and her coaches [especially basketball and volleyball] were mentors to her. She adds that her volleyball coach really prepared her “to be a great Division I volleyball player” and now that has Jenny has become a coach, she continues to be mentored in that role as well.
Mark Dewey (1982)
“As far as accolades and honors, I’ve received as an athlete, this is the most special.” Mark played a key role on Jenison’s first OK Red championship team in 1982 before going on to pitch at Grand Valley State University and in the Majors. He played 12 years professionally, including seven with the San Francisco Giants, New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates. Mark knows that his preparation for becoming a successful athlete rests, first and foremost with his coaches and then with this teammates and opponents. “They were good coaches and that was a tremendous benefit…and they were good athletes, good baseball players, in particular, and when you have good coaches and good competition that makes for becoming a good athlete.”
Paul Grasmanis (1992)
Mr. Grasmanis, an All-State and All-American lineman his senior year at Jenison, played four years at Notre Dame and 10 seasons in the NFL after being selected in the fourth round of the 1996 draft. He played defensive end for the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles. Paul was, unfortunately, unable to attend the event.
“This event is a way for us to celebrate the student athletes that have come through Jenison and the great contributions that they’ve made to our athletic program and our school. I’m proud that our Athletic Boosters put this together and it’s a great way to honor the people that have built up our athletic program and competed at the highest levels.” — High School Principal, Brandon Graham
Dave Krombeen welcomes guests
Silent auction items were entirely donated by local businesses and community members!
A sampling of the commemorative plaques honoring the inductees
A great time was had by all!
Congratulations to all of the inductees and we can’t wait to see who, among our current students, will join your ranks in the future!