To Assist and Honor Those Who Served

September 7, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Born into a multiple-generation U.S. Military family, Eddie Ostipow understood early the honor in serving one’s country.

His father, Mike, did so in Vietnam. Grandfather Alex Ostipow – now 90 – was part of the D-Day Invasion of France during World War II, then taken as a prisoner of war during the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, and earned three purple hearts while deployed from 1942-46.

Tonight, as the Orioles’ football coach leads his team against Eaton Rapids, both will take the field with him – symbolically at first, and then down from the stands with a larger group of veterans and active-duty soldiers who will be honored for their contributions to this country.

Mike and Alex Ostipow's names are among those that will be worn on both teams’ jerseys as part of their “Victory for Veterans” game to benefit the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Home for Children based in Eaton Rapids.

Funds raised from the purchase of those jerseys and other donations all will benefit the National Home, which was built in 1925 and provides a variety of services to military members and their families, including housing when a family member is deployed. Total, the schools raised roughly $6,300 for the home, which receives all of its funding through donations.

“The kids don’t always understand what those people sacrificed for the freedom we have to even play football on Friday nights,” Ostipow said.  “It’s close to me. (And) for me, selfishly, I’ll be able to honor my grandfather.”

Kickoff is 7 p.m. Both teams will wear camouflage jerseys featuring the names of military personnel that were purchased with donations of $100. Charlotte players were given the opportunity to wear the names of family members. For those who did not have names to wear, jerseys were sponsored by teachers and other members of the community.

Charlotte 2002 graduates Nick Cantin and Matt Lamoreaux will serve as honorary captains – Cantin is in the Air Force and Lamoreaux serves in the Navy. After the game, players from both teams will present their jerseys to the service members or their families who they honored.

This cause was a natural for the Orioles. On the Friday before Memorial Day each spring, Charlotte hosts a school-wide round table of veterans, who speak candidly with students about their war experiences. And this opportunity allowed both communities to donate to an effort close to home – both schools are in Eaton County, and Eaton Rapids is only 11 miles from Charlotte.

Ostipow had heard of the home previously – in fact, his grandmother had visited the facility while his grandfather was deployed. But until he began researching for tonight’s event, he didn’t realize the variety of services it provides. 

His student teacher, former Eaton Rapids quarterback Matt Marriott, is the son of one of the home’s facility managers. After a series of meetings with Marriott's dad, representatives from the home and Eaton Rapids’ administration and coaches, the plan was hatched.

The Orioles received a bonus when their local National Guard recruiter heard about the effort, and the Guard paid for $2,500 of the $2,800 it would have cost to print the Orioles’ jerseys. That meant $2,500 more that Charlotte could donate to the home.

Click to learn more about the VFW National Home for Children.

Nightingale Embarking on 1st Season as College Football Head Coach

By Scott Hassinger
Special for MHSAA.com

July 10, 2024

CJ Nightingale's family values, small-town upbringing and Christian faith steered the Mendon native into a career coaching college football.

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosNightingale, a 2010 Mendon High School graduate, is busily preparing for his first season as Belhaven University's eighth football coach. He was officially named the Blazers' head coach seven months ago, on Jan. 1.

Belhaven, a Division III school located in Jackson, Mississippi, competes in the USA South Athletic Conference.

Nightingale credits his love of coaching to his father Chris Nightingale and grandfather Charles Nightingale.

"It all started with my dad and grandfather. At one time they were both involved in coaching, and their general love for sports wore off on me," CJ Nightingale said.

Once CJ reached high school, his interest in athletics only intensified thanks to several people who made a big impact on him.

"I had the most wonderful experience attending school and participating in Mendon athletics,” Nightingale said. “We didn't always have the better athletes, but we were successful because of all the time and commitment put in by our coaches, teachers, administration along with parental and community support. Success is the result of many people who focus on the same cause."

Nightingale lettered in football, basketball and baseball at Mendon, earning four varsity letters in all three sports. He was named the St. Joseph Valley League's MVP in all three sports his senior year, and Mendon earned league titles in all three during Nightingale's senior year as well.

As a starting quarterback and defensive back his sophomore year, Nightingale led Mendon to the 2007 Division 7 football championship with the Hornets' 20-0 win over Traverse City St. Francis. Nightingale still holds the state record for career interceptions with 27.

Mendon had finished the 2006 season 3-6. A losing season remains rare in Mendon, and Nightingale stated it fueled the Hornets' title run the following season.

"I think losing is more difficult in football than in any other sport because of how much work goes into preparing for a season,” Nightingale recalled. “We were a very young team in 2006 and got punched in the mouth. It wasn't the best feeling, but it was a real learning experience and served as a big driving force that next season.

"All the hard times we endured the previous year served as a byproduct for our success in 2007. That team was unselfish, and not one player on the team cared who got the stats or accolades."

At Mendon, Nightingale played for legendary coach John Schwartz in football, David Swanwick in basketball and Glen Samson in baseball.

Lessons from Schwartz – a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association's Hall of Fame – and Samson have especially stuck with Nightingale into adult life and his own coaching career.

"Coach Schwartz had a way of getting everyone on the same page not just on the field, but he taught you how to be the best version of yourself off the field in every-day life. Coach Samson knew how to get his players in the right positions on the diamond to make us successful," Nightingale said.

"The environment at Mendon solidified my desire to become a coach and teacher. The best leaders are also the best teachers, and when you are surrounded by people like that it makes a big difference."

Nightingale attended Wheaton College in Illinois, where he lettered in football four years as a defensive back and return specialist. During Nightingale's career, the Thunder posted a combined record of 34-8 and qualified for the NCAA Division III playoffs when he was a freshman.

After graduating college, Nightingale taught history and spent two years as the varsity football coach at Richmond High School in Indiana. In 2016 he secured his first collegiate coaching job at Greenville University (Ill.) as a defensive backs coach, where he spent one season. He then served as special teams coordinator and linebackers coach at Indiana Wesleyan University beginning in 2017 before returning to his alma mater Wheaton in 2019 as the Thunder's defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach.

Nightingale makes an open-field tackle against the Gladiators in the 2007 Division 7 Final. Nightingale coached 24 all-conference players, 10 all-region performers and seven All-Americans over his four seasons at Wheaton, and the Thunder made the Division III playoffs all four years.

The head football coaching position at Belhaven became available in December 2023 when previous coach Blaine McCorkle moved on to Division 1 Northwestern State (La.). Nightingale applied and went through a three-week interview process before being selected as the program’s next head coach.

"I truly feel like God has called my wife Shanel and I and our family here for a reason. We are going to pour into Belhaven as deeply as we can and see what life brings us,” CJ Nightingale said. “As a college football coach, you have the unique chance to pour into your players spiritually, academically, athletically and socially. That's what is really special about this profession."

Belhaven's program has enjoyed a lot of success, especially the past three seasons with a combined 24-7 record, including a 9-2 finish last fall.

"I am very fortunate to be taking over a strong program here at Belhaven. You don't sustain success, but rather you must be able to build on it," Nightingale said. "We are excited about this season after a great spring. This group of coaches and players got a lot done these past six months. We have had a lot of guys here on campus all summer working to get better. There are lot of goals in front of us that haven't been achieved yet. Two of those goals are to go undefeated in conference play and host a playoff game.”

CJ and Shanel have three children, including 5-year old daughter Charlotte, 3-year old son Trey and 14-month old daughter Coco. They are expecting a fourth child in mid-September.

2024 Made In Michigan

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PHOTOS (Top) At left, Mendon’s CJ Nightingale (2) celebrates during his team’s 2007 championship win over Traverse City St. Francis at Ford Field; at right Nightingale is pictured with his wife Shanel and children Charlotte, Trey and Coco. (Middle) Nightingale makes an open-field tackle against the Gladiators in the 2007 Division 7 Final. (Family photo courtesy of CJ Nightingale.)