Fall Sports Update 2020

Out of the box thinking in response to the uncertainty of Covid-19 has not been limited to the classroom. Our coaches and athletes have been tenacious in returning to the water, course, courts, and fields and we’ve seen an interesting start to the fall 2020 sports season.

Jenison High School Athletic Director, Tim Ritsema has been working alongside our high school teams to ensure the safety of our student athletes and provide the best opportunity to return to competition.

Our coaches and student athletes showed up ready to work hard and they continue to do so despite the uncertainty of our fall seasons. Obviously they want to compete, but their commitment to their team and overall resolve has been nothing short of amazing!

Go Wildcats!

Tim Ritsema

Read below for more about the relentless commitment of our student athletes and coaches as they navigate their season during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also, don’t miss the CATS ROAR, an in-depth Jenison Athletic Boosters wrap up of last year’s sports programs and other Athletic department highlights.


Girls Swimming and Diving

Swimming coach, Kyle Stumpf and Diving coach, Brian Zuehlke started training with their teams in August. Covid athletic protocols made it necessary for them to find outdoor venues for their practices. The swimming team travels in two smaller groups for training at a variety of locations including Coopersville, Camp Geneva in Holland and open water training at a local residential lake (with coaches supporting from kayaks). The diving team has been practicing at a local house with a diving board.

The team’s new mantra has been borrowed from Teddy Roosevelt – “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” And they are doing just that. The coaches have been reminding the girls (and themselves) that perseverance is key. They want to have a season and are doing everything they can, considering the circumstances, to expectantly prepare for a return to indoor swimming and diving this season.


Volleyball

Varsity coach, Joe Steenhuysen and Junior Varsity coach, Mya Udell have called the start of their fall season, ‘interesting and non-traditional’. The team is training outdoors as well; on the football field and they have traveled to an outdoor court in Caledonia (in some wet weather). As the football team has dealt with the loss/rescheduling of their season, the team also gained some new team members when four senior guys joined up to train with and manage the volleyball team.

Coach Steenhuysen is a first year coach in Jenison and shared that he has been impressed by the determination and commitment of these athletes and their families. The team is clearly important to them and no matter what has been thrown their way, they come in each day to work hard. Even though it’s been a non-traditional start to the season, he and the players have enjoyed every minute.


Boys Soccer and Football

They proceed with caution, but there are many soccer and football players with fingers crossed these days as we await communication from Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer regarding potentially reinstating their seasons to occur during this fall.

Jenison Football… TO BE CONTINUED. (Photo taken at the final official practice on 8.14.2020)

Boys Tennis

Varsity coach, Aaron Boersma and Junior Varsity coach, Jeff Brown excitedly move forward with their season in full swing.


Girls Golf

Varsity coach, Linda Reimink and JV coach, Alanna Kremkow are happy to have their season count – no mulligan here!


Cross Country

Jacci Storey (Boys coach) and Kelly Tavis (Girls coach) are running full steam ahead with their teams; and the team has recorded some very impressive times in their first few meets.

JHS Recognized with Michigan Exemplary Athletic Program award

The honor and privilege of serving as the Superintendent of Jenison Public Schools is a humbling, yet greatly rewarding experience. As a destination school for many families, it’s no secret just how amazing this place is.

It is well deserved when our staff and programs are recognized for their excellence. JHS has been honored by Newsweek Magazine multiple times as the Best High Schools in America, the Washington Post’s most challenging high school as well as a GRAMMY Foundation Signature School. Also, receiving recognition as one of the best 100 communities in the nation for music education nine times.

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Cody Inglis – MHSAA Director, Tim Ritsema – JHS Athletic Director, Brandon Graham – JHS Principal, Emily Siler – Student Athlete and Tom TenBrink – JPS Superintendent. Banner held by Athletic Booster representatives, Erich Stoezner and Jason Kyle.

Not only do we have an outstanding music and fine arts program, but a successful athletic program as well. Established in 1971, Jenison has a short but rich history of athletics and hard working supporters. At Jenison, we believe in the value and benefits of dedication, motivation, and perseverance. We see our athletic program as a vital part of our total educational program and take pride in its achievements. 

At our Homecoming football game on September 20, Jenison was officially recognized as an Exemplary Athletic Program by the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s (MIAAA). We are one of 25 schools that have received this award – and only a handful of them are in the West Michigan area. This is the result of many years of hard work to create a quality infrastructure and a reputable athletic experience; one that functions as an extension to our fantastic educational and fine arts programs.

Former Athletic Director, Kevin Van Duyn (also 1983 Jenison student athlete/graduate and coach), was instrumental in laying the groundwork to bring our program to this point. After his nearly 20 year career at JPS concluded, it was an honor to see him inducted into the Jenison Athletic Hall of Fame in March of 2019. He embodies a core belief that good sportsmanship and personal integrity are the foundation of what defines success in both winning and losing situations.

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Tim Ritsema, Jenison High School Athletic director is happy to carry the torch and keep our athletic program operating at Exemplary status:

“We’re not perfect but it’s exciting to receive recognition for the hard work that’s taken place. We have some state of the art facilities and the Jenison athletic department strives to share the District’s vision, mission, and core values by stressing Community, Achievement, Tradition, and Service – CATS. When everybody rows together in this endeavor, everyone wins – regardless of the trophies and banners that are on display.” 

Recipient schools experience rigorous screening including an application process, written documentation of the program’s strengths and a two-day visit by an MIAAA evaluation team. Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) states that this award honors programs that model excellence and equity. Schools that are providing for what is best in educationally sound high school athletics.  

Our teachers are relentless in the classroom and many of them continue that effort on the fields after school – 56 of our staff are in assistant or head coach positions at JHS. Our district-wide commitment to the advancement of the emotional, social, moral and physical growth of all of our participants remains strong and is a key component to this recognition. 

I’m beyond grateful for the work of all members of our athletic department to support our “blue ribbon” level program. Our students benefit immensely from relationships built with coaches, the challenge of competition and lessons of teamwork. Go Wildcats!

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Cody Inglis – MHSAA Director presenting the award to Tim Ritsema – JHS Athletic Director

Check out this video footage of the beautiful outdoor Jenison Athletic Campus:

 

“Meet the Teams Night” a Great Introduction to our Student Athletes

With temperatures comfortably hinting at fall, Dr. Brandon Graham and JPS Athletic Director Todd Kolster opened Jenison Stadium last week to introduce the student athletes that make up the fall sports teams. In their second annual “Meet the Teams Night,” the community filled the bleachers to hear Mr. Kolster describe his vision for a new era of athletics in Jenison.

“I’m excited to be here. I’m honored to be here. We have a lot of work to do in a short period of time, but we’re going to get it done. We have what it takes to be successful.”

He continued by outlining the importance of expectations when it comes to achieving great things.

“Expectations are critical. Without expectations there are a lot of people wondering, what are we doing?…where are we going? We’re going to work hard for you to understand where we’re going from a communication perspective.”

“The kids I got to work with this summer are gifted. Competition is so critical in today’s world. For example, when you’re job searching, it’s generally you and one other person lined up for a job, a military position, entrance into a trade school. In those positions you can draw from your years of competition in athletics. What we want to convey to these kids is that there are no short cuts when it comes to working hard!”

Coach Schalk & 2012 Girls Cross Country Team

The night continued with comments from JPS Athletics Boosters’ President Matt McKinnon, who extended an invitation for any interested parents to join the boosters for their monthly meetings:

Every 2nd Monday Evening;

7 pm in the High School’s Triple Conference Room 

The work of the boosters is critical when you consider that 90% of the general athletic budget goes to pay coaches’ salaries. That means there is very little budget money left for uniforms and equipment. Any money generated by the boosters enables teams to purchase and pay for the necessary “extras” throughout the season.

Coach Scripsema & 2012 Girls Swimming + Diving

Mr. Kolster reminded parents that an accurate schedule for all athletics can be found at schedulestar.com. His last words for the stadium redefine success for JPS teams:

“I want to be clear: our work is not just about state titles, conference titles, or winning championships. It’s about being the best that we can possibly be — it’s using the outstanding facilities we’ve built and tapping into the talent we already have. We have a tremendous school district that’s only getting better and better.”

2012 Jenison Football Team

6 Reasons We Appreciate The Jenison Athletic Boosters

I’ll be honest: narrowing down my appreciation list to only six was more difficult than I had first imagined. The reality is, our athletic boosters are the scaffolding to our athletic programs, adding a bit more support and helping us all reach a lot higher.

Merely expressing our appreciation doesn’t quite capture the level of our gratitude, however we owe them thanks and are eager to honor their work. So this past weekend we invited them to the high school for a pizza dinner to celebrate them. It was a small gesture, but a heartfelt one.

6 Reasons We Appreciate our Boosters:

1.  Our boosters coordinate and staff all of our concession stands. Working together to seek out volunteers, our boosters schedule helpers at all events, stock items for sale, organize the displays, and greet our guests with a smile. If you love popcorn at the game, you have these folks to thank!

2. The boosters also encourage our teams by hanging up signs to root them on to victory. We appreciate their positivity and their willingness to support our athletes!

3. Each team has a “team mom” (one of our boosters) who also plans the team dinners at the ends of each season. This mom helps the team wrap up the season with a celebration that showcases the wonderful memories made together.

4. Our athletic boosters also put out a monthly report to our coaches and join them in recognizing an “Athlete of the Month” for each sport. Each student recognized receives a T-shirt from the boosters along with a certificate of their accomplishment. These small nods to our students are so meaningful and would not be possible without the caring help of our parents on this committee.

Booster President, Matt McKinnon

5. The boosters are an integral part of fundraising dollars to supplement our athletic budget. Last year alone the group raised $60,000 for our school athletics. What a gift!

6. But of course the thing we love most about our boosters is that they serve because they love Jenison kids and want them to have a fantastic athletic experience. John Koziatek shared, “It’s not so much about what we do — we do it for the kids. The reason we do what we do is because we want them to have the best opportunities possible.”

This group of friends has in many ways become more like family. Steve Meyer says that they’ve all “grown up together,” adding, “Some of these kids we’ve known since they were little and we’ve known the parents just as long. It’s really neat.”

That bond was evident Friday night as our group was honored at halftime of the boys varsity basketball game. They demonstrate a servant leadership that puts joy on display and keeps the kids at the center of everything.

We thank them for their tireless efforts on behalf of Jenison athletes!