We’re all students at YouTube University now, with information — some useful — accessible from experts around the globe. Trending this week are videos ranging from Gordon Ramsay’s breakfast tacos tutorial to step-by-step guides for picking locks with hairpins.
Centreville senior Tyler Overholt made better use of his online browsing time, eventually stumbling upon Poland’s two-time Olympic silver medalist in the discus, Piotr Malachowski. Though he doesn’t know it, Malachowski became Overholt’s coach.
An immeasurable amount of determination, and countless hours of watching film of Malachowski, led Overholt to break a 42-year-old school record earlier this year — a mark he since has bettered twice. At the White Pigeon Invitational in April, Overholt registered a distance of 155 feet, 7 inches to surpass Trent Grossman on the Bulldogs’ record board. A week later, Overholt made a toss of 160-6 in a meet that wasn’t officially finished due to inclement weather. In the following meet, he recorded a throw of 158-1.
“Let me tell you, I don’t smile much, but I had a big smile on my face,” said the soft-spoken Overholt, who earned Division 4 all-state status with a seventh-place finish after posting a mark of 138-3 at last year’s MHSAA Finals. “I was jumping up and down.”
Centreville jumped up to Division 3 this year, but Overholt’s marks still make him one of the favorites a few weeks from now at this year’s Finals at Jenison High School. Yet, you probably wouldn’t assume that with just a passing glance.
As a lanky freshman, Overholt was encouraged to try something other than discus. Still lanky now at 6-foot-6, 192 pounds, Overholt doesn’t look like a prototypical thrower.
But his fascination with the event only grew. As a sophomore, he approached new head coach Mike Hunter about giving it a try. Hunter, like most coaches at smaller schools, does the most he can to instruct his athletes in a wide variety of events. But he’s honest about a lack of expertise in the discus.
“He worked hard at the discus basically by himself,” Hunter said of Overholt. “He did some research and found some people. The hard thing with track is it is hard to coach every event if you don’t understand it, so to speak. I never did field events. I’ve tried to do the best I could to help him, but he’s done a lot on his own.
“He has just worked hard and has great technique. It’s not just arming the thing out there. He’s been great to coach, and he’ll do what you ask him to do. He’s right (in the state championship mix) if he can relax and throw with confidence.”
Overholt, who also took on the shot put and hurdles for the first time this spring, knew mastering the technique could trump strength. So he studied Malachowski and other high-level throwers, had his mother, Debra, record his meets, and he broke down that film as well.
“For the first year, I just searched a lot of Olympic discus throwers and tried to copy them,” he said. “Then I started applying details into the spin. There was a lot of improvement, especially my junior year.”
Gaining 20 pounds over the last year has factored in as well after Overholt begrudgingly followed Hunter’s advice to spend more time in the weight room.
“I wasn’t really into it at first,” Overholt said. “It took me until my senior year to really start lifting. Now I’m a lot stronger.”
And more confident and experienced. He admitted that his performance at the
Finals last year was far from his best as he wrestled with the nerves that often come into play for first-timers. Overholt entered this season with the school record in his crosshairs, and now that he’s crossed that off his list, he’s chasing 170 feet. As a result of his success in the circle, his future plans have been altered in the last week.
Instead of going into the Navy after graduation, Overholt is headed to Olivet College, where he’ll throw for the Comets. He still intends to enlist in the Navy when he’s done.
“Some people are amazed by what I do and want to know the secret,” he said. “I’ve surprised myself.”
Wes Morgan has reported for the Kalamazoo Gazette, ESPN and ESPNChicago.com, 247Sports and Blue & Gold Illustrated over the last 12 years and is the publisher of JoeInsider.com. He can be reached at email@example.com with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Centreville’s Tyler Overholt watches one of his discus tosses soar. (Middle) Overholt unloads a toss during a meet this spring. (Photos courtesy of JoeInsider.com.)
LAWRENCE — If redshirting was a thing in high school, at least two coaches at Lawrence would stick that label on senior John Schuman.
“We don’t want to lose this kid ever,” said Derek Gribler, the Tigers’ first-year varsity football and baseball coach.
“If we could put a red shirt on this kid every year, we would.”
Athletic director John Guillean, who also coaches varsity basketball, agreed.
“He is what we strive to have all our student-athletes achieve: high GPAs, multi-sport athletes, good, overall well-rounded human beings,” Guillean said.
Schuman has participated in five of the seven boys sports Lawrence sponsors.
As a freshman and sophomore, Schuman played football, wrestled, ran track and played baseball.
He had wrestled since he was 4, and went from the 119-pound weight class as a freshman to 145 the following year. That sophomore season he qualified for his Individual Regional. But as a junior, he traded wrestling for basketball.
“My older brother wrestled at Lawrence, so I would come to practices,” he said. “I quit for a couple years (in middle school) because I liked basketball, too. It was hard to do both. Obviously, in high school, I still struggled with choosing,” he added, laughing.
Guillean is thrilled Schuman made the switch.
“He’s 6-(foot-)4, he’s super athletic, defensively he’s a hawk, offensively he can put the ball in the bucket. But really, aside from his skills, just that positive attitude and that positive outlook, not just in a game, but in life in general, is invaluable,” the coach said.
Last season, Schuman earned honorable mention all-league honors in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference, averaging 9.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
Lawrence left the BCS for the Southwest 10 Conference this year, joining Bangor, Bloomingdale, Hartford, Decatur, Comstock, Marcellus, Mendon, Centreville, White Pigeon and Cassopolis. Schuman and senior Tim Coombs will co-captain the Tigers, with Guillean rotating in a third captain.
At a school of fewer than 200 students, Schuman will help lead a varsity team with just nine – joined by seniors Andy Bowen and Gabe Gonzalez, juniors Christian Smith, Noel Saldana, Ben McCaw and Zander Payment, and sophomore Jose Hernandez, who will see time with the junior varsity as well using the fifth-quarter rule.
“I attribute a lot of (last year’s successful transition) to my coach, helping me get ready because it wasn’t so pretty,” the senior said. “But we got into it, got going, and my teammates helped me out a lot.”
Gribler is one coach already looking ahead to spring sports after seeing what Schuman did during football season.
In spite of missing 2½ games with an injury, the wide receiver caught 50 receptions for 870 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“I just like the ability to run free, get to hit people, let out some anger,” Schuman laughed.
Gribler said the senior is “an insane athlete.
“On top of his athletic ability, how smart he is in the classroom (3.88 GPA), he helped mold the culture we wanted this year for football. He got our underclassmen the way we wanted them. He was a big asset in many ways.”
Schuman earned all-conference honors for his on-field performance in football as well.
“I would say that my main sport is football,” the senior said. “That’s the one I like the most, spend the most time on.”
In the spring, Schuman competed in both track and baseball, earning all-conference honors in both.
“Doing both is tough,” he said. “I have to say my coaches make it a lot easier for me. They help me a lot and give me the ability to do both, so I really appreciate that.
“Throughout the week you’re traveling every day, it seems like. Baseball twice a week and track, but it’s worth it.”
Schuman’s commitment is so strong that he made a special effort not to let his teammates down last spring.
“He qualified for state in the long jump and did his jumps up in Grand Rapids, then he drove all the way to Kalamazoo to play in the District baseball game,” Guillean said. “That speaks volumes about who this kid is. He did his jumps at 9 a.m. (but did not advance) and made it back to Kalamazoo for a 12:15 game.”
Big shoes to fill
As the youngest of four children of Mark and Gretchen Schuman, the senior was following a family tradition in sports.
Oldest brother Matthew played football, basketball and baseball as well as competed in pole vault and wrestling.
Middle bother Christopher competed in football, wrestling and baseball.
Sister Stephanie played basketball, volleyball and softball.
“I like to say they blazed a pretty good trail for me at this high school,” Schuman said.
As for feeling pressure to live up to his siblings, “I used to when I was younger, but now I feel like I’ve made my own way and done enough things to be proud of that I’m happy with it.”
His own way led him to achieve something none of the others did.
He was named the Tigers’ Male Athlete of the Year, just the third junior to earn the boys honor over the last 25 years.
“I was very honored to win that as a junior,” Schuman said. “There were good athletes in the grade above me. I guess hard work pays off.”
Guillean said while Schuman is “darn good at every sport here,” an athlete does not have to be a “top dog” in every sport.
“Learn how to take a back seat,” he said. “Learn how to be a role player. That will make you a better teammate and a well-rounded human being.
“Johnny has that work ethic, in the classroom, on the field, on the court, on the track. It doesn’t go unnoticed and, obviously, he’s reaping the benefits now.”
Pam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Lawrence’s John Schuman has participated in five varsity sports during his first 3½ years of high school. (Middle) Lawrence athletic director John Guillean. (Below) Lawrence football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. (Action photos courtesy of John Schuman; head shots by Pam Shebest.)