Theme of 'Team' Plays Well for Portland

May 29, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Team-building, and self-sacrifice for those teammates, are among the many lessons taught through educational athletics.

Portland junior golfer Ethan Getchell has picked them up quickly.

Getchell, an all-league selection in 2017 as a sophomore, will not be playing in Wednesday’s Division 3 Regional hosted by his school – by his own accord.

He instead chose for a senior teammate to take his place.

Raiders sophomore Zach Pier – who tied for third at last season’s Division 3 Final – leads the lineup and was locked in for the Regional. Teams send out five golfers, so four more spots remained. But five others also played significant roles on this season’s Portland team – four of the five earned some level of all-league recognition, and the fifth had the team’s third-best score at the league tournament.

After all the numbers for the season were tallied, the final spot came down to Getchell and senior Devin Miller.

Both earned all-league honorable mention this season. Their competitive stroke averages are separated by less than a tenth of a stroke. So the opportunity to play in the Regional came down to a practice round at Willow Wood Golf Course, where this week’s tournament will be played. Getchell shot a season-best 79, while Miller had an off day and fired a 91.

Getchell earned the spot – and gave it right back after the team’s brief post-practice meeting.

As Portland coach Jon Snellenberger wrote: “(Ethan) felt whether he played or Devin played in the Regional tournament, that on any given day his or Devin’s competitive performance would still help their team’s result. He further explained that throughout the season Devin’s play, along with that of their other four teammates, (saw) at least one of them step up in different matches to make Portland a very competitive golf team to compete against.”

Getchell also noted to his coach, “That being a junior, he would look forward to next season, his senior year, to have the opportunity to play in a state Regional tournament, and that for Devin, a graduating senior, this may be his last chance to play in a high school golf match in his career.”

The next day, Getchell and Miller were called into a meeting with Snellenberger and athletic director Kevin Veale. Snellenberger and Veale suspected Miller – noting his character as well – might turn down the opportunity. Miller did state, according to Snellenberger, “(that) his stats hadn’t met the standard for this tournament’s lineup, but that Ethan’s stats had.”

But then Getchell again made his desire known. Miller, “with a degree of humble reluctance,” accepted Getchell’s spot in the lineup.

Miller will join the lineup and Getchell will be the team’s alternate Wednesday.

But regardless of the results, both starred in how they graciously gave and accepted a meaningful opportunity.

PHOTOS: Ethan Getchell (left) begins a swing this season, while Devin Miller watches after his follow-through. (Photos courtesy of the Portland athletic department.)

Mid Peninsula's Boys Sweep UPD3 Titles, Including 1st Team Championship

By Jason Juno
Special for

June 1, 2023

HYDE – The Rock Mid Peninsula boys won their first Upper Peninsula Finals boys golf championship Thursday, earning it in Division 3 at Highland Golf Club near Escanaba.

The Wolverines finished with a score of 324, 13 strokes fewer than runner-up Ontonagon.

“It’s the first time in school history for us, so we’re pretty excited about it,” Mid Pen coach Earlene VanDamme said. “The kids put a lot of work into this year.”

They did it with three golfers among the individual top five, led by medalist Bradly VanDamme, who shot a 77, and tournament runner-up Michael Englund, who carded a 78. Christian VanDamme was close behind with an 81, which was good for a fifth-place tie.

Big Bay de Noc’s Nick Desjarden watches a tee shot at Highland Golf Club. The three golfers have shot consistently around 80 all year. 

“Our top three boys were pretty equivalent. They were within one or two strokes of each other,” Coach VanDamme said. “I kept messing with the order. It didn’t matter where I put them, it always ended up that they were just all always kind of consistent.”

Bradly VanDamme said he has been shooting consistently in the 80s. He shot an 80 here during a practice round. 

“So a 77 today was huge,” he said. “I never expected to play as good as I did today.”

Fixing a key part of his game helped.

“I got off the tee well; usually that’s my struggle,” VanDamme said. “But every tee, I just thought, if I can keep this one in play and keep it in the fairway, then this course is pretty easy if you can keep it in the fairway.”

He said he was happiest about the team title.

“It’s great. All the guys are really excited. That was our goal coming into this – we didn’t care how we all individually placed, we just wanted to win as a team,” he said.

Watersmeet’s Edmond Williams putts during his round.That’s the way team leaders think.

“Bradly is a strong leader for the team,” Coach VanDamme said. “He continuously is just prepping the team, saying, ‘Come on guys, this is about the team score. We all need to do this.’”

His brother Christian VanDamme was just four strokes behind him.

“It helps that (Bradly’s) brother is on the team because he is very competitive with him,” said Coach VanDamme, who also is Bradly and Christian’s mother. “And they put a lot of extra practice in trying to better themselves, so they do practice a lot.”

Ontonagon was team runner-up for the second year in a row.

The Gladiators were led by Abi Pestka, who finished in third place and shot an 80, and Jerry Majurin, who tied Christian VanDamme with an 81.

“That’s the best the boys have done as a group,” Ontonagon coach Jim Jessup said. “Everybody was fairly close in terms of their scores.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Rock Mid Peninsula celebrates its first UP Finals championship in boys golf Thursday. (Middle) Big Bay de Noc’s Nick Desjarden watches a tee shot at Highland Golf Club. (Below) Watersmeet’s Edmond Williams putts during his round. (Photos by Jason Juno.)